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3 Reasons to Order a Headstone in the Winter

Choosing a headstone or monument for a loved one who has passed is never easy. It’s tempting to keep pushing back the decision. This is especially true in the winter when the ground freezes and makes headstone installation more difficult. However, waiting until spring to place your order isn’t the best idea. Here’s why.

The Benefits of Ordering a Headstone in the Winter

1. Family Can Help Make Decisions

With the winter brings holidays and lots of family gatherings. If you want to get your family’s input on choosing a headstone or monument, now is a good time. Since everyone is likely to be gathered together, each family member will be able to offer up their opinion.

2. It Will Arrive Before Memorial Day

Many families wait until after the ground has thawed to choose a memorial for their loved on. This makes spring a busy season for headstone and memorial creation. If you want to ensure that your loved one’s headstone will be installed before Memorial Day, placing your order in the winter is a smart move. If you wait until spring, there’s a chance that your headstone won’t be delivered in time.

3. Plenty of Time to Get it Right

The headstone or monument you choose represents and honors your loved one. Understandably, it’s a big decision. If you have something specific in mind for a monument, it may take a while to work out all of the details. Starting the process in the winter will give you plenty of time to finalize the design.

3 Ways to Create a Memorial After Cremation

With cremation becoming increasingly common you may be wondering how to memorialize a loved on who was cremated. You have several unique options you can tailor to your needs and your loved one’s personality.

To keep your loved one close to you, you may decide to keep an urn in your home. There are many styles available, and you can ask your funeral provider about etching services to place a message or details about your loved one on the urn. Often home display urns are displayed temporarily. When enough time has passed the urn can then be taken to a cemetery where an everlasting memorial to your loved on can mark the location of their final resting place.

Even after cremation, your loved one’s ashes can still be buried traditionally, so they can have the same type of headstone or monument you would choose for a grave. You can also inter their ashes in a columbarium or funeral niche. This provides a place for you and other family members and friends to visit and see your loved one’s memorial.

What’s the Difference Between Markers & Monuments?

If you’re pre-planning your funeral or trying to pick a memorial stone for a loved one, you might feel overwhelmed by the options available. With many different materials and styles to choose from, how do you find the perfect one? Here is some information about the two most common memorial types.

2 Common Memorial Styles

1. Marker

The simplest of your memorial options a marker is one piece of stone that is low to the ground. It is engraved with basic information about the person resting there including their name and years lived. This memorial style is perfect for those who are looking for an understated resting place. A subtle marker is also well suited for those with a limited funeral budget.

2. Monument

Also known as a tombstone or headstone is an upright piece of stone that sits at the head of the burial site. Often made of granite this memorial type commonly features an engraving that includes the name of the deceased and their birth and death dates. Many people also customize headstones with verses, quotes, sayings, or information about their loved one. The most noticeable of any memorial style monuments range in size and design. For example you may see monuments designed as large statues of angels or saints or as more abstract obelisks made from granite. Monuments are a unique way to honor someone’s life and they can be customized to represent a favorite hobby or an outstanding achievement.

A Guide to Figuring Out What to Put on a Headstone

After a loved one passes away, find a beautiful and personal way to honor their memory and their legacy. Many people opt to convey their feelings of admiration and love on the departed’s headstone. But what should you put on there? The guide below outlines some popular options for a lovely tribute.

3 Ways to Honor Your Loved One With a Headstone

1. A Description

If you prefer a straightforward way of honoring your loved one’s memory, consider putting a short description of who they were on their headstone. This may include information about their family, such as if they were a sibling, parent, or spouse. It can also include notable information about the good they did in their lifetime, such as their profession or if they were a philanthropist.

2. A Picture

For a headstone that’s more artistic, consider having it etched with a picture that was meaningful to you and your loved one. For example, perhaps there was a particular flower they admired, a sport they played, a vehicle they adored, or a location that was of special value to them. You can also have a portrait of the departed etched into the stone to honor their memory and preserve their legacy.

3. A Quote

In times of hardship, many people look to words of inspiration, whether they’re from the Bible, a favorite book, a speech, or a song. If there is a particular quote that reminds you of your loved one, consider having it inscribed on their headstone. It can represent the departed’s values and character and bring about feelings of hope, humor, and strength.

4 Headstone Symbols & What They Mean

If you are planning for a loved one’s burial or preplanning arrangements for yourself, choose lettering and designs for a headstone that represent the deceased’s character and beliefs. A unique monument will honor their life for many years. Here are some common symbols to consider putting on a memorial.

Understanding Headstone Symbolism

1. Flags

Those who served in the military often have an American flag etched on their headstone to denote their time fighting for the country. Also, some individuals display flags of their home states or countries. For example, people who emigrated to the U.S. may want to pay homage to their home country by featuring its flag on their memorial.

2. Doves

Doves are symbols of peace and harmony. Many graves are adorned with doves in flight or carrying an olive branch, a sign of hope.

3. Angels

If you walk through a cemetery, you’ll likely spot many statue angels perched on headstones or etched in monuments. These flying messengers of God are often thought of as guardians for the living and provide comfort to loved ones as they visit the grave.

4. Books

Individuals who loved reading or cherished their time in academia as students or scholars may have a book etched on their tombstone. Books are also commonly used by people who want to share their love of the Bible.

How to Protect Flowers You Leave on a Headstone

After snow and ice from winter weather melts grass mowing season begins. Contractors bid against each other to secure very well paying contracts to mow cemeteries. Mowing in cemeteries is a prestigious contract that allows mowing contractors to build confidence in the community by mowing the communities cemetery well. Cemetery mowing is likely the biggest contract and most difficult work winning bidders of mowing contractors do each year. Cemeteries require mowing as often as every week and while it is easy to mow a large open field with nothing in it cemeteries are full of stone monuments. The stone shreds string trimmer strings so the hardest part of mowing a cemetery is string trimming and there is a lot of string trimming to do because riding mowers can’t touch the stones or both mower and stone are damaged. Before bidding on these lucrative cemetery mowing jobs the people mowing need to know how much time and effort it will take to do the job right so the community is happy with their work. Before bidding on the job they often require cemetery caretakers remove all mowing obstructions left by visitors in order to give their best price. Communities have limited budgets for cemetery maintenance so they like to go with lower bids to do the work so they often agree to remove obstructions to the mowing crew and inform the community that obstructions will be removed. If you plan to leave a bouquet on the headstone below are ways to ensure it won’t be removed by the cemetery caretakers.

How to Ensure Flowers Aren’t Removed From a Headstone

1. Place Flowers in a Mounted Vase

A breeze could blow the flowers laid on a headstone and onto the ground. Groundskeepers throw out flowers that get blown onto the mowing path. There are several products available to secure the arrangements in place. Headstone saddles work well. They are available at many stores the week before Memorial Day. They are attached to the stone by stiff wire prongs that grip the stone with spring tension to keep a wreath or spray attached to the top of the stone. Flowers can also be placed in memorial vases that attach to the base of monuments. Placing artificial flowers in vases attached to the base of the monument is preferable because the flowers are more likely to stay in place than with a saddle mount on the top of the stone.

2. Check the Cemetery Guidelines

Some cemeteries have strict rules in place regarding where and how flowers can be displayed. The maintenance staff might discard of flowers when the guidelines aren’t followed. To make sure your flowers aren’t removed reach out to cemetery management and ask what they need to allow the mowing crew to do their job without damaging your decorations.

4 Common Headstone Shapes

The right headstone honors and memorializes your loved one for all time. Since most families are tasked with choosing one during a time of significant grief and distress, finding the ideal memorial can feel overwhelming. To help in that process, below are four common headstone shapes, discussed in more detail.

A Guide to Headstone Shapes

1. Flush Markers

A flat stone that lays flush against the ground so lawnmowers can go over top of it. Typically rectangular and made of either granite or bronze, flush markers are simple and elegant. They can be marked with custom engravings, symbols, or images. Simple is often better since the space is limited.

2. Upright Stones

Upright tombstones are the most common type of grave memorial. They consist of two pieces: a base and a vertical tablet that extends upward called. The vertical tablet may be square, rectangular, or a custom shape. Upright markers have ample space for writings, etchings, engravings, and imagery. The large amount of space is why they are the most common type of tombstone.

3. Slant Stones

Slant stones are just as their name implies. The front has an angled surface. They are easier to read at a distance than flush markers that face upwards but not as easy to read from a distance as upright stones. These stones resemble smaller, thicker versions of upright stones. Slant stones come in two ways. They can be set on a base like a tablet on a base making them a two piece monument or they can be without a base making them a one piece marker.

4. Obelisk Stones

An obelisk is a grand memorial shaped like a single column that comes to a point at the top. The base is a four-sided square pedestal.. Obelisks have minimal space for writing and other customization on the column due to being narrow and tall however the four sided base below the column has ample space for lettering and artwork. Obelisk stones make a bold statement and are sure to catch the eye.

How to Address Lichen Growth on a Tombstone

Your loved one’s tombstone is meant to serve as a lasting memorial — a place where family and friends can gather to reflect on the life of the deceased. Though tombstones are made from durable materials, the natural effects of weather and nature can lead to wear and tear and diminish their appearance. Lichen is a particularly common issue that appears in graveyards. Here is how you can address this growth and keep your loved one’s tombstone looking its best.

What Is Lichen?

Lichen is a slow-growing organism that is distinguished by its crusty appearance. This plant is actually the result of several different types of fungi growing together to create the thin leafy crust. Lichen is usually black, brown, grey, green or orange. As it grows in thickness it becomes increasingly more difficult to remove.

Over time the thickening lichen can make the tombstone’s lettering harder and harder to read.

Cleaning Lichen From Tombstones

Lichen needs to be cleaned as soon as possible, or it will become harder to remove. Lichen can be removed by wetting the tombstone with distilled water and then scrubbing the affected area with a nylon brush. Harder to remove crustose lichen may require a specialized lichen cleaner.

Cleaning a Granite Headstone in 5 Easy Steps

Granite headstones are beautiful and extremely durable, making them a popular choice for memorializing lost loved ones. While this stone is capable of withstanding the elements for centuries, over time dirt, moss, and other elements can obscure the engraving. Fortunately with some common cleaning products and the tips below, you can keep your family member’s monument pristine for years to come.

5 Steps for Cleaning a Granite Headstone

1. Sweep Away Debris

Leaves, excess soil, and even litter can quickly accumulate around a headstone. Remove these large pieces of debris before you start cleaning.

2. Wipe Polished Surfaces With Soapy Water

Mix a few drops of dish soap with one half-gallon of clean water, then use a cloth to wipe down the headstone.

3. Rinse the Stone

Use as much water as necessary to completely remove the soap, then dry it immediately with a clean cloth to prevent streaks.

4. Clean any Engraving

Even if the surface is clean, dirt may cling to the letters and symbols engraved into the surface. A brush can help get down into valleys where the cloth couldn’t reach.

5. Buff the Finish

Polished granite has a natural luster, so you won’t need to apply any special polishes to buff the surface. Using a clean, dry cloth, rub the polished areas to remove any leftover residue and moisture.

6. Stubborn Things On The Surface

Sometimes soap and water just aren’t enough to remove stubborn things from the surface. Many things can be on the surface and there are just as many ways to remove them. If you have something hard to remove take a photo to an expert for advice before experimenting with harsh chemicals or your efforts might make it worse instead of better.

A Brief Guide to Selecting a Headstone Style

During the difficult time of planning final arrangements, you may be tasked with important responsibilities such as planning a funeral and choosing an appropriate headstone. Many families are surprised to learn that there are many options available to them. If you’re not sure which to choose, here are some options to consider as you select a memorial stone.

How to Choose a Headstone

1. Consider the Shape

While the traditional headstone conjures an image of a simple rectangular slab, there are actually many different shapes available. You might opt for an oval, a square, an asymmetrical shape, or the shape of an object your loved one liked. The professional that designs your memorial can provide you with a comprehensive idea of your options.

2. Decide on a Size

If your loved one has a companion or a spouse, it may be worth considering a double monument. This is a thoughtful way not only to honor that special bond and meaningful relationship but also to bring some measure of comfort to the family or partner who is left behind. Another option is a single headstone, which is a classic and traditional option. Both styles can be beautifully personalized to reflect the person’s values, beliefs, or interests.

3. Customize the Details

The standard headstone includes the name, dates of birth and death, and perhaps a few words of description. Many families are pleased to learn they can further personalize these memorials with additions that represent their loved one’s faith or personality. You might opt for an angel, a flag, or an image reflective of something that they enjoyed, such as a vehicle, a sport, or a flower. You can even have a vase attached to the memorial so that family and friends can leave flowers. Custom engraving also provides loved ones with wonderful options to pay tribute.