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How Do I Choose the Best Headstone Engraving?

By J. Beam
Updated May 17, 2024
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Headstone engraving falls under the topic of final arrangements and it is a topic that is difficult for many people to discuss. Oftentimes, final arrangements are made during a sorrowful and emotional time in people’s lives and the decisions that must be made are even more difficult at that time. Headstone purchasing and engraving is one of those decisions and is a fairly big one considering the maker will stand for many, many years in most situations.

A headstone serves as both a marker and memorial to a loved one. Whether placed at a burial site, or erected as a memorial to someone who was never buried, a headstone or grave marker pays tribute to a loved one while providing a place for remaining loved ones to visit. Choosing a headstone engraving is a very personal choice and can be simple or very intricate, depending on the wishes of those involved.

The most common headstone engraving includes the deceased person’s name, followed by the dates of their birth and death. Beyond this conventional engraving, an epitaph may also be engraved. This could range from a favorite quote or Bible verse to a more simple identifying phrase, such as beloved mother, father, daughter, son or friend. An engraving may also include a picture or image that depicts the person’s favorite hobby, lifelong passion, or other symbol of meaning. Engraving is not limited in choice, but ultimately, the decision rests with what those closest to the deceased deem appropriate.

While the choice of headstone engraving is not particularly limited, there may be rules or regulations that apply to the cemetery where the headstone will be placed. Check with the cemetery superintendent to make sure that you understand the rules of the cemetery before ordering a headstone. In many cases, the cemetery works closely with the monument company and the more trivial details are worked out between them.

If the deceased person was in active duty service in the United States military, then the VA provides government issued headstones free of charge. Loved ones or next of kin still have some input regarding the headstone engraving, but the options are much more limited. Other countries may have similar military service benefits for the deceased so be sure to check with the appropriate authorities.

When it comes time to chose a headstone engraving for someone near and dear, remember that there are funeral home and cemetery staff who are readily available to assist you and answer any questions you may have. Headstone selection and engraving is a personal matter and there is no inherently right or wrong way to memorialize a loved one.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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