Memorial headstones have been, for centuries, the most common way to permanently memorialize members of cultures all across the globe. And they remain so today. Even people whose bodies have been cremated (a tradition whose popularity is increasing dramatically) are typically memorialized with memorial headstones installed in cemeteries, often in a family plot.
For many years, memorial headstones were large, up-right pieces of sculpted stone with chiseled information about the people whose graves they marked. These “up-right” memorial headstones are still common today, but they now usually mark small groups of graves (for example an entire family). Meanwhile small memorial monuments are now most commonly used for individuals. These are smaller plaque-like pieces made of bronze and/or granite is installed directly in the ground at the head of an individual’s grave.
Memorial headstones today are most commonly found in two varieties: bronze and granite. Both varieties of cemetery headstones are widely available in the memorial industry today. (And, it should be noted, many companies that sell bronze memorial headstones also provide complimentary bronze vases to accompany them. Some companies, however, offer this for an additional charge.) Bronze memorial headstones typically include bronze plates with special memorial designs and lettering that names the deceased as well as the dates of birth and death. These plates are then attached to granite bases and then installed in cemeteries as beautiful memorial headstones.
Memorial headstones, of course, serve to help families cope with their losses. By having grave headstones for loved-ones available in specific locations, families are practicing the advice psychologists typically give to people in the grieving process. But, besides their emotional value, memorial headstones are also important for historians. Memorial headstones assure that lives can be documented for years after death. The study construction of memorial headstones assures that the people being memorialized will be remembered long after paper records have been destroyed by the elements or technology has rendered electronic records obsolete.
Memorial headstones, like other memorial products, can be purchased “pre-need” or “at-need.” Pre-need cemetery headstones are paid for while a person is still alive. These memorial headstones have the name (or, if the product is a “companion” cemetery headstones, names) inscribed when it is purchased. Death dates are then added later. Many people choose the pre need option because they want the peace of mind that comes from choosing the design and style of their own memorial headstone. Cemetery grave markers purchased pre-need can also provide a financial benefit in the event prices increase for memorial headstones during a person’s lifetime. Despite the advantages of pre-need buying, many family members buy memorial headstones for their loved-ones “at need.” The decision of when to buy memorial headstones is deeply personal, and both methods are common today.