There are a number of questions you should ask a monument dealer when buying a headstone for a loved one. Here are a number of them below. Any experience monument dealer should not only be ready to answer these questions, but also HAPPY to answer them for you. Any dealer who is not happy and caring towards you as a customer should not be the dealer you choose to work with.
1. Can I see what you have to offer?
2. What are your most popular monuments?
3. What can I customize on a headstone? Do you have options I can look at?
4. Can you show me examples of font types, carvings, etchings, and more?
5. Can you show me a drawing of the monument I'd like to buy before I buy it?
6. Can I see a stone of the same size?
7. How much does this stone cost and can you explain why it costs that amount?
8. What colors do you have available?
9. Can you tell me where this stone came from and what is it's story?
10. Will you set this in my cemetery of choice for free?
Bring a notebook and pen with you when you visit a monument dealer. Take notes. Write down things you like and things that you don't like about certain stones. Do the best you can to help the monument dealer can a feel for what you are looking for specifically. You won't regret it when you see that perfect stone in your cemetery.
Very few people have had to buy a headstone before. It's not something anyone looks forward to, and can be a very difficult process for most. However, it's often difficult because most people do not know the right questions. Below, we've put together notes on How to Buy a Headstone. We hope you find it helpful.
First off choosing an experienced monument dealer who has wide knowledge and expertise of the granite industry is essential. In an industry where the average consumer does not know the difference between types of granites, color, sizes, polishes, carvings, etc, and their related costs, it's important to speak to someone who has extensive experience. Whether you are looking for a simple or extravagant design, you want to have someone to help guide you through the process. Someone who can help you incorporate your ideas to make your headstone or memorial a thing of beauty that shows personality and tells a story.
There are many things to consider when designing your memorial:
First, I recommend you drive around cemeteries and get some ideas of things you like or things you don't. That is what I did when I was looking to buy a headstone for my late husband. I looked at the things I liked, and ruled out the things I didn’t. I took photos and kept them with me so that I could remember what it was I liked about each. Then I made a list of ideas to personalize my headstone.
Below is a list of things to consider, whether you are buying a headstone for pre-need or after a death.
Headstones and Markers:
Size - Many cemeteries have maximum heights and widths of headstones for particular sections of their cemeteries. Even the thickness of the stone, and the base it sets on, are sometimes regulated. Most consumers do not know this, but an educated monument dealer will. There have been stories before of individuals buying monuments from out of this country (China and India mostly) only to find out that the stone is too big for the cemetery that their loved one is buried in. Can you imagine how terrible that would be to find out? Don't be that person. Instead, work with a reputable monument dealer like HeadstoneHub or others who can contact the cemetery for you and figure out size restrictions.
Color - Believe it or not, where a piece of granite comes from in the world often times impacts it's color and hue. Because of it’s beauty and durability, the most popular granite in New England is the color gray from Barre Vt. Different colors often times result in different pricing, and certain colors lend themselves better than others for etchings. There are granites that range from deep blues, to varying shades of red and sandstone, to green, black, and a number of others. A good, honest monument dealer will be very up front with you about pricing and will make sure you understand why certain stones are more expensive than others.
Style/ Shape - (Headstones only) Just about any shape you can dream up, can be made into a monument. Beyond the typical square or rectangular shape, many monument dealers offer stones that are shaped like books, teardrops, hearts, free standing crosses, lighthouses, clovers, etc. The ideas are endless. Keep in mind that it may cost a little extra for a more extravagant shape, because of the number of “cuts” that the manufacturer must make.
Carvings - Just about anything can be carved into your headstone. The most popular carvings are flowers, hearts, crosses, stars, and plants. A carving can also be a 3-D sculpture, on the top of your stone. The more intricate the carving, the more likely the price may rise. But, carvings often times bring out the true life and story of a loved one because they can be so intricate.
Polish - Monuments are polished on the front and backs of the stone on a regular basis, but can also have the sides and top polished too. The cost may rise depending on how many extra surfaces are polished.
Personalize - You can personalize your headstone or marker by adding “etchings” showing military service, education, religion, travel, sports, music, customs, homes, even careers. Most popular etchings are portraits, which can also be added to ceramic medallions, that can be affixed to your stone.
We have this has been helpful in learning more about how to buy a headstone.
By: Ryan Durkin. I hope this was helpful for you. If you have any further questions regarding how to choose the perfect headstone, please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org, or fill out the contact form here.
Colmer Monument Works and HeadstoneHub recently teamed up to take on an exciting project, marking a true landmark for one of Lowell, Massachusetts most famous writers: Jack Kerouac. His most famous book, On the Road, was written in just three short weeks in April 1951 and depicted his travels across America. The New York Times hailed it as "the most beautifully executed, the clearest and the most important utterance yet made by the generation Kerouac himself named years ago as 'beat,' and whose principal avater he is." The Modern Library has ranked On the Road as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.
The Boston Globe recently wrote a very nice piece about Jack and our work. You can read it here: http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/09/30/new-jack-kerouac-monument-lowell-the-road-life/HiVN6JQvqbde3nPyJAWKJN/story.html. We wanted to share some information about Jack, his book "On the Road," and some fun facts you may not have known.
Here are two other nice articles that recently came out speaking of Jack Kerouac's new headstone, crafted by Colmer Monument Works and HeadstoneHub.
Fox News article "New memorial arises at Jack Kerouac's gravesite in hometown of Lowell:" http://www.foxnews.com/travel/2014/10/01/new-memorial-arises-at-jack-kerouac-gravesite-in-home-town-lowell/
Lowell Sun article "For Kerouac, etched in Stone:" http://www.lowellsun.com/todaysheadlines/ci_26640733/kerouac-etched-stone?source=rss
Buying a headstone online can be great, or it can go horribly wrong. The most difficult part in the buying process concerns what happens after the stone is purchased. There have been horror stories in which individuals have bought a headstone online, only to have the headstone delivered to their house or cemetery, with no means of installing it at the gravesite. In that case, individuals typically have to then pay exhorbitant fees (hundreds, if not over $1,000 dollars) to install separately from the purchase of the stone to a different company. This contrasts to when you buy online from a reputable monument dealer, who will take care of the installation and spell out all costs.
The following are questions a good online monument dealer will know to ask your cemetery before you buy a headstone, marker, or memorial.
Although you may have the urge to get the information yourself, it is in your best interest to have a reputable monument dealer call the cemetery, as they are the ones who know exactly what to ask, and will guide you through the buying and installation process.
Remember, if you call for information, and misunderstand or relay it incorrectly, it could be very costly to you, as cemeteries are firm on their rules and regulations. They can refuse the monument if it does not meet their standards.
Here are questions that your monument dealer will ask:
1.) What section of the cemetery is the memorial going? He/she is referring to the burial plot area.
2.) Are upright headstones allowed?
3.) Are there any special restrictions, for upright stones? i.e. Slate for Historical areas.
4.) What are the dimension guidelines for height, width and thickness of the monument?
5.) Are there design restrictions? (example: Are bases required? Are “cut-outs” allowed?)
6.) Is a foundation required?
7.) What are the foundation fees?
8.) Who installs the foundation?
9.) What are the permit fees? (determined by the dimensions of the monument )
10.) Are there design restrictions and size requirements for flat markers?
11.) What are the permit fees for flat markers?
12.) Are benches, or unique- “one of a kind” designs allowed? (be specific about your ideas)
13.) Do you need a foundation under a bench?
14.) Are Columbariums allowed? (cremation urns are placed inside)
15.) Who will install the monuments? (Some Historical cemeteries do their own installations.)
16.) Are LARGE monuments or unique shapes like animals, hexagons, cubes, pyramids, or obelisks allowed?
17.) Are Mausoleums, allowed? ( there are many rules and regulations about Mausoleums)
18.) Are slate, marble slabs, or natural rocks allowed?
All of these are great questions to ask before buying a stone. If you have any questions on any of these and would like to speak to one of our reputable monument dealers at HeadstoneHub, feel free to email email@example.com or call 617.279.0050.
Today, CNN did a really nice article on the Top 10 Most Scenic Cemeteries in the World. One of Boston's own cemeteries, Granary Burying Ground, made it on the Top 10 list. For anyone who has walked by this Tremont Street cemetery which was founded in 1660, you may notice a tall "Franklin" tombstone. This is not the headstone of Ben Franklin (who is buried in Philadelphia), but is actually that of his family. Other famous individuals buried within this cemetery include John Hancock, Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and James Otis. Samuel Sewall also is buried here. Samuel is infamous due to his history as the magistrate who presided over the Salem witch trials. Many of the headstones in this cemetery have carvings of skeletons, winged cherubs and skulls, and other symbols of death. It is a famous cemetery that surely any visitor to the city of Boston likely will visit (or at least walk past).
Here is the full CNN article, complete with pictures: http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/30/travel/worlds-most-scenic-cemeteries/index.html?hpt=hp_t5
And for all those wondering, Mt. Auburn Cemetery likely would have been in the Top 20 most scenic cemeteries. In terms of my own personal favorites, it ranks much higher.
Over the past few days, news has come out that an Iraq war veteran named Kimberly Walker, who is believed to have been murdered this past Valentine's Day by her ex-boyfriend, recently had her cemetery stone removed from her grave. The reason why? Regulations by the cemetery.
Ms. Walker is a proud Patriot who supported our nation in the U.S. Military. She also happened to be a fan of SpongeBob SquarePants. And upon her death, her family wanted to honor Kimberly by making her headstone a 7-foot tall SpongeBob SquarePants headstone in an Army uniform with Walker's name and rank.
Most people do not know this, but 99% of cemeteries have regulations on things such as size, shape, and material of headstones that they allow within their cemeteries. My father's cemetery, for example, has a restriction on the size of the base of a headstone. It also has a restriction on height. If a person wanted to put a 20 foot tall monument within his cemetery, the cemetery (based on their guidelines) would say "no" that that.
However, in the case the Walker's, a staff member of the cemetery that has Kimberly's grave actually told the family that having a seven foot tall SpongeBob SquarePants memorial was permissible. Now, the cemetery has come forth to say that that staff member was wrong, and that the memorial should never have been put in in the first place.
This is clearly a messy situation. My personal belief is that error falls on the side of the cemetery. They did not have their staff properly trained, and therefore, they are responsible for this mixup. However, instead, they have had the memorial (and it's twin monument next to it in the same shapeof SpongeBob, but with a different uniform for Kimberly's living sister) removed. The Walkers spent $26,000 on these headstones, and the cemetery is prepared to reimburse the family for this. Clearly, this is a dicey situation.
What is the lesson? Well, I'll suggest two.
FIRST, forever remember that 99% of cemeteries have restrictions on things such as size, shape, and type of stone(s) that can be placed in their cemetery. Not checking and double-checking with a cemetery before hand can lead to issues such as this (and this is definitely not the first time this has happened).
SECOND, whenever possible, work with a monument dealer who understands the market and knows what questions you should be asking. These businesses, many of which are family owned and operated, have been doing this for decades and know every in and out of the system.
To read more about this story, go to: http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/22/us/spongebob-gravestone-controversy/ or http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/10/22/cemetery-removes-iraq-war-vet-spongebob-squarepants-headstone/
If you have any questions about this article, please feel free to ask them in the comments section or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm here and happy to help.
Where do you start when trying to design a “flat marker?" Well, although the choices are more limited than designing an upright headstone, there are still many options. The majority of the ones you will see in cemeteries are going to be the traditional shades of grays, pinks, and browns usually with flowers, or religious symbols on them. Your ideas can easily be “mixed and matched” to fit your budget. But think about this: maybe instead of traditional, go modern! With today’s technology , you can take any photo you have and have it “etched” onto a beautiful piece of polished black granite. Etched markers have become the most popular because they can be personalized by adding portraits, scenery, hobbies, careers, insignias etc. Very few monument shops own laser etchers, however, HeadstoneHub does. This allows us to sit down with you to help you create the perfect marker. Can’t decide on one favorite photo? Bring in a bunch of them, and design a collage! This can show the many phases of your loved ones life, and bring back many wonderful memories each time you visit their grave. Something different, something great.
A memorial serves two distinct purposes. First, its design, selection, and erection helps surviving family members through the difficult transition period in which the loss of a loved one is accepted. The second function of a monument is to provide family members with a tangible link between the past, the present, and the future. Memorials are a bedrock foundation of our heritage and culture and are a visible reminder of who we are, where we have been, and where we are going. Cemeteries provide ideal places for living people to go to and reflect upon their family member's memorial and place in history.
Motivational researchers tell us that people buy to satisfy one of the following needs. Buying a memorial, headstone, or monument is no different:
1. Need for security: Security includes things beyond personal safety and freedom from want. It also includes things like security from criticism by your peers. This is one reason individuals choose to spend beyond their means on a gravestone (to impress other family members or friends). Do not feel pressured to spend beyond your limits. Only spend what you are able to afford.
2. Sense of worth. This is why people are motivated by spending $50,000 on a car for themselves. Looking at and driving the car reassures them of their worth. Just remember, while it is important to acknowledge the wishes of your loved one who has passed away, be careful of spending beyond your budget.
3. Love. Without the love of someone for something or someone there would not be much personal memorialization. The stronger the love, the stronger the motivation. Because of this, headstones often times have symbols of love (hearts, flowers, angels, and more).
4. Creativity. Many individuals have an interest to do something unique and design something eternal. With advancing technology, people can now have stones customized to their exact desire. Laser engravers can also put photos onto headstones, and design in color.
5. Power. Many people want to control the creation of a memorial and what it says about their family member. Luckily, many monument makers recognize this desire and allow individuals to create their own stone with the monument maker's design help.
6. Roots. The refers to the sense of belonging. Many people choose to be buried in a faith based cemetery. Others prefer to have a monument for them placed in their favorite place on earth to visit; maybe the beach or the mountains.
7. Immortality. Monuments offer a opportunity to satisfy the urge of immortality many people feel at some point in their lives. It allows people to "be remembered in the history books" to future generations.
Whether it be for family members to convene around or to reserve their place in the history books, the idea of marking ones gravesite with a memorial is overwhelming encouraged by society. Just make sure you are doing it for the right reasons and are not going beyond your budget. This is a unique and tough experience. It should be taken slowly, with careful thought.
Ryan Durkin, Nancy Durkin-Calkins, David Calkins, and their family have been in the headstone, monument, and granite business for over 35 years. We want to make sure that the process of buying a headstone is simple and transparent, and so they created HeadstoneHub. The company helps educate customers and also provides them with the ability to buy granite headstones, monuments, and memorials when the time is right.