Designing Your Grave Memorial

Shaped Grave MonumentRegardless of the type of marker you select, you will normally include the deceased’s name, date of birth and date of death. In addition to this information, you have many options on how you can enhance your tribute. Should you have a photo? How about an illustration or quote? Should you use humor? All of these can be tough questions.

Below are 6 easy to follow steps to help guide you through the design process.

  1. Know the cemetery regulations. Some cemeteries have guidelines for what can be on stones and markers. Understanding the cemetery’s specific guidelines can help narrow down your options. For example, your cemetery may only permit the person’s name, dates of birth and death and a short quotation. If this is the case then you won’t need to decide on a graphic or illustration.
  2. Select the type of head stone or marker. If you know what type of marker you will be purchasing it will be much easier to design your memorial since the size and type will help you determine how much information you have room for. (Click here to learn more about how to buy a grave marker).
  3. Think about the person you are memorializing. The best place to start when designing is to think about the person you will be memorializing. What was his or her personality like? If you are designing for yourself then that part is easy. Once you have thought about the person you can zero in on the type of memorial design that is appropriate.
  4. Review your budget. Some added features may add to the cost of the stone or marker. Knowing how much you’d like to spend will help you determine priorities for what you can add to the memorial.
  5. Sayings or slogans. The most important factor in determining what is appropriate for the person you are memorializing is to remember that the words or phrase is meant to honor the person. It is also something that will be “etched in stone.” So keep your inscription short and relevant to the person’s life. Perhaps they have a favorite poem or quotation that you think would be appropriate. If not, you can find many suggestions on the Internet, in your public library, or through a local funeral home or cemetery. Scripture references are also commonly found on grave markers.
  6. Examples of typical grave marker inscriptions:

    • Loving father, son, soldier
    • In memory of…
    • The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. – Psalm 23
    • Beloved daughter
    • Gone, but never forgotten
    • Forever in our hearts
  7. Select artwork or illustrations. There are many options when it comes to selecting artwork for use on granite memorials. The company through which you are purchasing your marker will probably have a list of graphics that they can accommodate on your stone.

Due to size, your options will be more limited on smaller granite or bronze markers. Remember that what you are designing is intended to be a tribute to a person’s life and personality. Some of the more popular symbols include flowers, angels, birds, praying hands, and symbols such as alpha & omega, an ankh.

In addition to traditional symbols, many people opt to include images that bear a relationship to groups or organizations with which the person being memorialized were associated. Examples of these would be the symbols of the branches of the military, masonic symbols, animal illustrations, and sports-themed logos.

While creating the perfect grave marker can be stressful, especially if you are doing so at a difficult time, it can also be extremely rewarding. So take a deep breath, think about the person you are memorializing, and take your time. In no time at all you will have a beautiful design that offers the perfect tribute.

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