Since monuments come in so many types and designs, one of the services you can offer your clients is to help them sort through the options. With all the other critical decisions they need to make, this is the one that stumps people unexpectedly. Grieving families who had assumed that a traditional headstone is the only choice may be relieved when you show them the variety available to them today.
Grave markers range from rectangular flat or grass markers that lie flush with the ground to beveled or slanted markers that are at angles that are easier to view, with slanted markers being at a sharper angle and generally taller in height. Grave markers are usually up to 24” long.
Usually headstones are 36” in length for a single plot, so that they fit comfortably on the standard grave plots. If your client has two or more adjoining plots, they may have the option of larger headstones, but will need to check with the cemetery.
The decision as to whether to go with a marker or a headstone is influenced by tradition, religious beliefs, personal preference, and cost. Families that have had a particular type of headstone for other family members may want to have a matching one. People of deep faith may want to have symbols on the headstone or grave marker that express either the faith of the deceased or the family’s own beliefs. Personal preference may prompt the survivors to create an expressive design for their loved one, whereas a limited budget may force the family to opt for a less expensive grave marker.
Headstone shapes range from the traditional rectangle or slightly curved designs to angels and crosses. Materials can be granite (in a variety of colors) or bronze. Grave markers can also be shaped like hearts or crosses or have relief pictures or etchings on them. Granite benches, another option, can stand alone or be connected to the headstone. (Stand-alone benches can also be placed as memorials in parks, or near favorite locations, like libraries, museums, hospitals or churches with permission of the property owner.)
In offering options to your clients as they decide on the design for the headstone or grave marker, encourage them to think about what they want people to remember most about their loved one. If the deceased loved sunsets, the ocean or mountains, skiing or golfing, or had a special hobby, an etching depicting that can be made right on the monument or a smaller version on the grave marker.
Most monument and memorial websites encourage people to design their own headstones and grave markers right there on the website. They usually have customer-friendly, choose-and-click steps so that customers can select the stone color, remembrance style and even type in the wording themselves. As a funeral director, if you have a particular monument shop that you partner with, design a page of your website to introduce memorial options and have a live link that takes your clients directly your partner’s website to browse for headstones and grave markers. If there are several local shops you work with, or three or four websites that you consider reputable, list them on that page with their URLS so that clients can explore them. See if these websites will let you place your own web link or button on their landing pages so that your clients can easily find their way back to your site.
As your clients debate their options, gently remind them that before they finalize their monument purchase, they need to verify that the cemetery approves the size and style that they have chosen. As a convenience, you may want to get copies of burial plot regulations from several cemeteries in your area and have them on hand ahead of time.
By minimizing the stress associated with the selection of the memorial, you free up your grieving family to concentrate more on the other aspects of their loved one’s funeral and burial.