What You Need to Know About Purchasing a Headstone


If you are in the process of choosing a headstone for a loved one, you may feel overwhelmed about this decision during an already emotionally challenging time. After all, the headstone will be your loved one’s final resting place, and you want to choose wisely and carefully to pay respect to your loved one and honor their life and legacy.

Understanding how to navigate this process will help you pay tribute to your loved one as well as offer you peace and closure during this time. We have compiled a guide with everything you need to purchase the right headstone for your loved one.

1. Observe Headstones at the Cemetery or Memorial Provider

It can be a good idea to visit the cemetery where your loved one will be buried to get an idea of the different kinds of headstones they have. There you can determine what you like and dislike in regards to the various kinds of headstones, monuments and gravemarkers. You can take this information with you back to the cemetery, funeral home or memorial provider, or wherever you will be purchasing the headstone from to let them know what kind of headstone you would like.

You can also visit a local headstone or monument provider to look at the monuments and headstones they have on display and  get a better sense of the kind of headstone you may want to purchase for your loved one. 

2. Know the Cemetery’s Rules and Regulations 

You should also become familiar with the rules and regulations the cemetery has in regards to the kinds of headstones they use. They may have restrictions on the size or material of headstones that are allowed which will influence the kind that you will ultimately choose. As every cemetery’s rules and regulations vary, it is important that you understand the by-laws of the cemetery where your loved one will be buried prior to purchasing a headstone for their grave. 

3. Choose the Material of the Headstone

The most common types of materials for gravestones are granite, marble, bronze, concrete or cement, iron, sandstone and limestone or fieldstone. As you want your loved one’s headstone to stand the test of time, it is crucial to choose durable material that will stand up to the elements. It is also advised to again check with the cemetery as they may restrict certain types of gravestone materials, and prefer certain materials over others. Ask your memorial provider to show you all of the different types of headstone materials they offer, so you can compare prices. 

For example, while marble polishes well, over time with exposure to moisture the material may gradually wear down which can erode carvings and blur out names and dates on the headstone. Bronze is aesthetically pleasing and tasteful in its appearance with an elegant luster, but is susceptible to developing a green patina that would need to be restored using chemical treatments. 

4. Carefully Select Wording for the Epitaph 

As a lasting tribute to your loved one, it is imperative to choose the right words on their headstone to exemplify their life and legacy with meaningful language using a brief inscription  A short inscription in prose or verse that honors a deceased person, an epitaph usually includes their name, their birth date, death date, and information in regards to their role as a wife, mother, daughter, etc. It may also also include quotes, proverbs or other words of wisdom that were important to the deceased. 

How do you encapsulate the entire life of a person in just a few words? Take the time to reflect on your loved one, and how much they mean to you to carefully select the words that will be carved on their tombstone, as an enduring representation of their memory. You can search for inspiration for wording for your loved one’s epitaph by browsing online or by observing the carvings on other tombstones at the cemetery where the decedent will be buried. 

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