Learn about headstones, and how to buy a headstone.
We wrote this guide to tell you about the six important things that you will need to know when purchasing a headstone. We realize that for most of you, making a permanent purchase like this is very intimidating. After reviewing questions that we hear daily, and facts from monument dealers, we have broken down the information into 6 topics, to make it less confusing. Whether you purchase in a traditional store, or online, our information is to guide you in the process. Monument dealers will work very hard to make sure you are happy with your headstone.
VISIT CEMETERIES FOR IDEAS
Any good monument dealer, whether online or offline, is going to speak to you about the following five things, when discussing a headstone: size, color, shape, text and artwork. He or she will help guide you through the process. The best way to get ideas, is to visit local cemeteries. Look at the basic colors, as well as traditional and unique shapes. Take pictures of styles that you like, fonts, interesting etchings, and carvings so that you can show the dealer what you like. It is also important to know what you do not like. Remember, showing a picture, or sending one online will help the monument dealer understand your vision.
DO YOUR RESEARCH ONLINE
We would recommend doing the following:
1. Read about how to buy a headstone, just like you are doing now. Read articles, blogs, anything you can to make you feel comfortable with the process. There is a lot of good, free information out there for you. That is why we wrote this guide, to make it a little easier for you.
2. Ask friends and family who may have gone through this process before. Chances are that you know someone who has, and they may have some thoughts on the process.
3. Google “monument dealers”to find a local business that sells monuments. You will want to ask yourself the following questions as you learn about each store.
MEET WITH 2 to 3 MONUMENT SHOPS
Now it is time to visit 23 monument shops that you found online, or in your area. It is best to call ahead and make an appointment, as you need uninterrupted time to discuss many things.
Make sure you have the following information with you:
• The Name, City and State of the cemetery where the headstone will be delivered to.
• Information that will be inscribed on the stone. The correct spelling of the family name of the deceased, as well as the correct date of birth and date of death. If you are buying "preneed” it is still very important to make sure that the names and date of birth are correct.
• Any/all photos you have of headstones, carvings, anything that you will want to incorporate into your memorial.
Because of their years of experience, most monument shop owners are very good at speaking with customers and making them feel comfortable during a very difficult time of their lives. Most of them have dealt with thousands of people who have experienced the loss of a loved one. They understand the grieving process. We have found them to be very kind and compassionate people who truly want to help you make a true “memorial” to your family member. Occasionally, there may be a dealer who is just in the industry simply to “make a living”, but more often than not, the dealer is a true professional that takes pride in their craft.
TALK THROUGH THE BASICS
Here are the types of questions you will want to be prepared to answer when speaking to a monument dealer:
Who is this headstone for: What was he/she like?
The more information he/she knows about your loved one who passed away, the better he/she can paint a picture in his/her head head as to what your loved one would have wanted in a headstone.
Size of stone: What cemetery is this headstone going in? This is important for the monument dealer to know so that he/she can make sure that the sizing requirements are correct.
Color of stone: What color do you like? Headstones come in many colors, from light and dark grays and blacks to all colors of the rainbow: red, blue, green, pink, and more.
Shape of stone: Do you like more traditional shapes, or more unique shapes? Headstones come in basic square and rectangular shapes, and also come in the shape of hearts, shamrocks, tear drops, and much more.
Text and artwork: Are there any types of text and artwork you prefer? Do you want a carving or something more simple? Do you prefer block fonts or more scripted fonts? These are the types of things you’ll want to talk through.
Budget: What is your budget? This will help the monument shop owner guide you in your decision making. Remember that headstones can range in price from a few hundred dollars up to many thousands of dollars. Keep your budget in mind.
It’s very important to decide on a budget BEFORE walking in to see a monument dealer or buying online. Speak to a trusted family member if you do not know what type of budget you should be setting based on your own level of income, savings, etc.
The average headstone in New England costs $3,500.
Upright headstones can range from the low-end of $1,500 to $8,000+. If you’re looking to spend less, think about a flush or beveled marker, which typically cost $600 - $1,500. If you are looking for a bronze marker, be willing to spend $1,200 - $1,800. And if you’re looking for a mausoleum, be prepared for a $20,000+ price tag.
PURCHASE, PAYMENT, & INSTALLATION
At this point, you have decided on the size, color, shape, text and artwork on your headstone. You may have even added a sculpture and engraving. Now, it is time to pay for your headstone. BUT, BEFORE YOU DO, just remember: 1/3, 1/3, 1/3.
You should NEVER pay 100% up front for a headstone. Any monument dealer who is reputable should follow the following payment plan:
Understand that many times, there will be additional costs associated with the purchasing of a headstone. Here they are listed below so that you understand:
You just read “6 Things to Know Before Buying a Headstone” by HeadstoneHub. We hope that this guide has helped you.
We’d like to conclude this guide with our empathy and condolences to you and your family. As a team of monument makers who have been in the monument and headstone business for over 35 years, we have worked with thousands of families dealing with the loss of their loved ones. We know that these individuals have been survived by their children, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandparents, cousins and friends. And we know that while time heals all, certainly the loss of a loved one never truly goes away. We are here to help answer any of your questions.
If you’re like millions of Americans, chances are you have never gone through the process of buying a headstone before. It’s not something that people look forward to, and to many it is an uncomfortable necessity that can be very confusing. After speaking with a large number of people who had recently gone through the process of buying a headstone, we decided to assemble this guide to help simplify the process.
CHOOSE YOUR HEADSTONE SIZE
Size: To start, it’s important to contact your cemetery and ask them about the maximum size headstone you are able to have. All cemeteries have requirements as to what they can and cannot allow in terms of size.
Do not make the mistake of buying a stone before checking first with your cemetery. For example, many cemeteries have rules in place that say a headstone can’t be more than 4 feet long x 2 feet wide x 6 feet tall.
Questions to ask your cemetery:
CHOOSE YOUR HEADSTONE COLOR
Colors: Granite headstones come in a variety of colors from different parts of the world. Barre Gray, for example, comes from Barre, Vermont in the United States and is the most popular headstone color in New England. We prefer the colors below due to their consistency, high quality rating, and beautiful tones. Here are the 12 most popular colors, below.
CHOOSE YOUR HEADSTONE SHAPE
Shape: You have the option of getting something more standard, like the shapes below, or customizing your own shape. Most monument dealers can get very creative and create anything you can dream up. The general rule to remember is that, typically, the more angles on a stone, the more expensive it will likely be.
CHOOSE YOUR TEXT
Text: Most people choose to write the family name on the front of their headstone (Ex: “SMITH”) and the full name and date of birth and death on the back (Ex: “Jim Smith, January 8, 1954 – November 23, 2015”).
Fonts: You will have hundreds of options of fonts to choose from. Often, it is best to start with some understanding of whether or not you want a traditional Times Roman Font, Script Lettering, Block Lettering, Old English Lettering, or Celtic Lettering. Examples are provided below for you.
Inscriptions: Give the monument shop owner the sheet of paper with your loved one’s full name on it (make sure it is spelled correctly), birth date, and date of death. Then think about the following: Would you like to include an epitaph? Something like “Forever in Our Hearts” or “We Love you Dad.”
CHOOSE YOUR ARTWORK
Artwork and Designs: You can include engravings like ivy, flowers, and religious symbols. You can also ask to customize your own. Be sure to insist they are cut deep into the stone and either sandblasted or laser engraved by a professional.
Sculptures can really add a lot of value to a headstone. Whether they are carved roses, religious symbol, turtle doves, angels, or a picture of your loved one’s sailboat he/she used to ride, sculptures can turn an ordinary stone into something that looks truly extraordinary. We have provided some examples below as some ideas.
You just read “5 Easy Steps to Buying a Headstone” by HeadstoneHub. We hope that this guide has helped you understand that when it comes to picking out the perfect headstone for your loved one, there are five things you will need to choose: the size, color, shape, text, and artwork. All of these will combine to influence the price of your headstone. It’s better to know that each of these will impact the price of your stone before buying online or walking in the door to a monument dealer. If you are buying a headstone, it is likely an emotional time in your life. Be informed and ask questions about each of these five steps.
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 email@example.com, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com. 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.
HeadstoneHub is a Boston, MA based headstone and monument company that has been designing and building granite headstones, monuments, benches, and urns for over 35 years. We are family owned and operated and stand by the quality, beauty, and craftsmanship of our memorials. HeadstoneHub proudly serves the greater New England area.
Areas we serve:
Boston & Greater Boston Area, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire & Vermont.
Or visit our showroom in Leominster, MA