Considerations for Choosing a Grave Marker for Your Loved One

a cherub sculpture on a headstone

If your loved one didn’t already have a grave marker chosen, designed, or purchased, or didn’t leave any instruction for you, this is one detail you’ll have to work through with a local monument company. There are a number of options when it comes to grave markers, including type of marker, material, design, color, engraving options and styles, and more. Choosing the perfect grave marker for your loved one can be overwhelming, so working with your local monument company can be helpful.

Here’s a guide to choosing a grave marker for your loved one, including information about types of markers and headstones and considerations to keep in mind when making your decision.

Types Of Grave Markers

There are several different types of grave markers to choose from. What you pick can depend on whether your loved one is being buried or cremated, cemetery regulations, and preferences. Some of the most common types include:

  • Traditional headstone: A headstone is what you commonly see in a cemetery marking grave sites. It’s a slab of stone, typically granite, that is set at the head of someone’s grave. These markers can include inscriptions, engravings, etchings, and more, and can be custom designed to fit your vision. There are also different types of headstones such as upright, custom, slant, bevel, and flat.
  • Cemetery benches: Also called graveside memorial benches, these are an alternative to a traditional headstone that are placed by someone’s grave site. A bench gives family and friends a place to sit and spend time reflecting and feeling close to their deceased loved one. There are different types of memorial benches, and they can be customized in a variety of ways.
  • Mausoleums: A mausoleum is an external, free-standing building constructed as a monument enclosing the interment space or burial chamber of a deceased person. They are often designed to be attractive and beautiful, and there are many options for design, construction, and decoration.

Types Of Headstones

The most common types of headstones include:

  • Upright: This is the most traditional and common. Upright headstones are an upright slab of stone that contains the deceased’s information placed at the top of the grave site. They can be designed in different shapes, sizes, levels of complexity, and elegance, and personalized in a variety of ways. They can also be single or double if two people want to be buried together.
  • Custom-shaped monuments: A type of upright monument, custom-shaped monuments are more unique and personalized. You can be more creative with the shape and designs of the stone.
  • Slant: Shorter and shaped to lean back, they are also available in different sizes, shapes, levels of complexity, and elegance and can be personalized in several ways. You can also choose a slant monument with or without a granite base.
  • Bevel: Also called a “pillow marker,” these headstones sit close to the ground but are two to four inches higher in the back so the face is slanted.
  • Flus, flat, or lawn-level: Also called a “footmarker,” these sit flush to the ground. While they are the least expensive option, they are also the most susceptible to damage.

Considerations For Choosing a Grave Marker

When choosing a grave marker, there are a multitude of options to think through and details to consider. Here are just a few to think through and talk to your local monument company about:

  • Cemetery regulations: Cemeteries regulate headstones and monuments placed on graves within their grounds. Cemetery Rules and Regulations outline certain requirements such as size, material, and type of headstone. Always check with the cemetery where your loved one will be buried as they can refuse any headstone that doesn’t meet their requirements.
  • Material: There are different materials the grave marker can be made from, and the most common are granite, marble, and bronze.

Granite is one of the most popular choices because it’s the strongest and most durable (almost impossible to scratch, stain, chip, etc.). It’s also cost effective and comes in many colors like gray, black, brown, green, red, blue, and more.

Marble comes in a number of unique patterns, shadings, and colors, but it can chip, scratch and crack more easily. It also absorbs moisture from the ground that can change the color of the stone. Marble is best for indoor crypts, mausoleums, or urns.

Bronze is a popular material due to its natural elegance and durability. It can lay flat to the ground or be mounted, comes in multiple sizes, and can be personalized with just about anything.

  • Design: If you choose a headstone as a grave marker, you can have a traditional headstone or one that’s custom-shaped. Examples of shapes include a cross, heart, book, serpentine, tear, and more.
  • Cost: Purchasing a headstone can be expensive depending on its size, material, the type of headstone, inscriptions, etc. Set a budget ahead of time and work with your monument provider to choose a beautiful grave marker that is within your budget.
  • Imagery, text, etching, and other designs: Wording on a grave marker can reflect loved one, share something important about them, or serve as farewell message from the family. Designs, images, or words that represent loved one’s hobbies, talents, interests, career, favorite flower or place, etc. can all be considered. These details should be simple but unique to your loved one.
  • Engraving styles: There are different types of engraving styles used for a headstone inscription depending on the type of headstone, fonts chosen, cemetery regulations, and your budget. Examples include:
    • Incised lettering
    • V-cut lettering
    • Embossed lettering
    • Lead letter inscriptions
    • Raised lead letter inscription
    • Headstone symbols and photos
  • Other accessories: Determine whether you’d like a plaque, sculpture, vase, or other accessory to accompany the grave marker.

Contact Tegeler

If you have questions and need help choosing a grave marker, Tegeler is here to help. We have assisted countless families in designing and installing the perfect tributes to their loved ones via quality grave markers in Maryland. Fill out our contact form, and a representative will be in touch.