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Financial Planning for Funeral Expenses

As costs rise across nearly every industry, most of us can’t help but wonder about financial planning. Funeral planning is a critical, though often overlooked, aspect of thinking ahead for your finances. Adding this cost into your budget now can help ease burdens on your loved ones later. Experts say there are over 70 details to be decided on in the first 24 hours after death, and those decisions are being made by family and friends who are overwhelmed, exhausted, and mourning. Taking finances off the table by setting money aside now can help take a weight off their shoulders. Let’s explore some ways you can plan to pay for future funeral expenses. 

Pre-Paid Funeral Plans

Pre-paid funeral plans may be a good choice if you’re looking for a simple and straightforward solution. These plans will have you working directly with your chosen funeral home. Together, you and the funeral director will put together a customized package of services, including funeral home services, flowers, casket, transportation, and other needs. Costs typically range between $10,000 to $25,000, depending on your selections. You can then pre-pay for your funeral cost in either one lump sum or payments broken up over 3, 5, or 10 years. Another option in this same vein is to work with a pre-paid contract provider. Much like an insurance broker, these companies work with multiple funeral homes to find the best price for your chosen services. 

For many, a pre-paid funeral plan is a great option, but be aware there are pros and cons. On the positive side, your funeral details are taken care of well in advance, you can choose exact funeral details, and prices are often locked in even as funeral costs continue to rise. However, there are negatives to consider. An issue some have experienced is the funeral home going out of business before their services are required. In that case, the money you’ve paid might be gone, and your family might be left with the bill you were trying to avoid. You may also change your mind about arrangements or move far from your chosen funeral home. In these cases, knowing whether the funeral home will refund your money is important. Be sure to ask these questions and consider all the factors before writing a large check for a pre-paid funeral plan. 

Funeral Insurance Plans

Perhaps a more flexible option for funeral cost planning is a funeral or burial insurance plan. These are commonly purchased alongside life insurance policies, and you will assign a beneficiary to receive funds after you have passed away. With a pre-paid funeral plan, funds can only be used for agreed-upon funeral expenses. With a funeral insurance plan, loved ones can use the money for funeral costs, medical expenses, remaining debt, or other various expenses. Some states allow a funeral home to be used as the beneficiary. In this case, all funds would go toward funeral expenses and bypass family members. These plans provide the benefit of flexibility in both how and where money is used. However, they do not lock in prices. If costs rise, more funds may be needed for end-of-life expenses. 

Which to Choose

While neither funeral insurance plans nor pre-paid funeral plans are perfect, they are great options for many. Insurance plans are perfect for those who value flexibility. Perhaps you aren’t sure whether you’ll stay in the same area or would like the option to be buried in another state. An insurance plan might be perfect for you. On the other hand, if you’re in your forever hometown and place a higher value on planning details for your own service, pre-paid is a safe bet. Insurance plans pay money directly to the beneficiary and allow loved ones to price shop and find lower costs for services. Pre-paid plans take the pressure of making decisions off of family members, knowing things have been taken care of. Take time to consider which of these plans might be right for you.

According to the National Funeral Directors Association, in 2021, the average cost of a funeral in the United States was $9,420. That cost did not include the burial plot or headstone. With costs rising higher each year, it’s important to plan ahead so your loved ones aren’t hit with a large bill after your passing. Whether you choose to open a simple savings account or use a pre-paid or insurance plan, setting aside this money can give both you and your family peace of mind.

Five of the Most Interesting U.S. Historical Cemeteries

Cemeteries have been a necessity almost since the United States began. Just a few years after landing on Plymouth Rock, Pilgrims established their first burial ground. That first designated memorial space can still be explored today and helped to preserve the history of how early settlers dealt with deceased loved ones. In current-day America, historians and hobbyists alike can visit over 140,000 graveyards across the country. Spending time in these cemeteries may have once been considered morbid, but many now see the value in perusing the aisles of intricate headstones. Together, we’ll look at some of the oldest and most famous historical cemeteries to give budding history lovers some bucket-list ideas. 

Myles Standish Burial Ground

We would be remiss in beginning this list anywhere but in the Myles Standish Burial Ground. Established in 1638 in Duxbury, Massachusetts, this cemetery is considered the oldest maintained cemetery in the United States. Early pilgrims first used this site in 1638, 18 years after first docking the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock. Sadly, many of those first settlers are buried here, but their grave markers have been lost to time. While most of the surviving marked gravestones are from later dates, several have stood the test of time from as early as 1697. Even Captain Myles Standish himself was buried here. This was confirmed after multiple exhumations finally clearly established where he and his family rested. The site has been maintained by the Duxbury Rural Society since 1887 and was named a National Historical Site in 2015. 

Charter Street Cemetery (Old Burying Point)

Arguably the oldest, though not considered the oldest maintained, cemetery in the U.S. is the Charter Street Cemetery in Salem, Massachusetts. Originally established as a private cemetery for the Wade family in 1637, the oldest remaining gravestone dates to 1683. It became a public cemetery in 1717. Visitors will find approximately 485 headstones to explore, though records suggest over 600 people were buried here. Strict rules during that era forbade slaves from being buried with gravestones, and sadly their burial sites are unknown. 

While one might expect many executed settlers from the Salem Witch Trials to be buried here, this is not the case. In fact, no one who was executed at that time is buried in the Charter Street Cemetery. However, Judge John Hathorne, who sentenced and executed 19 innocent women, is buried here. Hathorne was considered the lead judge in the trials, and after never showing remorse for his verdicts, died in 1717 at the age of 76. 

Saint Louis Cemetery

One of the more unique cemeteries in the United States is divided into three parts in New Orleans, Louisiana. The first section was established in 1789, less than a block from the French Quarter, due to a city-wide fire that destroyed the city’s original burying site and created an urgent need for a new one. Less than 50 years later, in 1823, the second piece of this cemetery was created just a few blocks from the first site. The third site was established a bit further away in 1854 as the additional expansion was needed. All three areas are considered historical and are more than worth exploring, but the original site holds the title as the most well-known and perhaps most visited of the three. This location boasts one of the country’s most visited tombs. The gravesite of Marie Laveau, a well-known voodoo priestess, draws hundreds of visitors to this historical cemetery each year. 

Arlington National Cemetery

No list of historical cemeteries would be complete without the distinguished Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA. This burial ground stretches over 200 acres and houses the graves of over 400,000 soldiers. While we know this space today for its perfectly spaced headstones and stunning memorials, it was once owned by the step-grandson of George Washington and was used during the Civil War to house federal troops. After that, in 1863, this property was used as a transitional space where formerly enslaved people could find food, medical care, and gain access to education. In 1864 the space was reallocated as a military cemetery. Today it hosts more than 3,000 military funeral services each year. 

While it’s often easy to dismiss cemeteries as somber and bleak, they have a great deal of rarely examined beauty. These quiet burial grounds allow visitors to reflect on those who have come before, their families, their lives, and their history. Spending time reading headstones and appreciating their stories can give viewers a window into periods they would never have known. So consider taking a walk through your local cemetery; it might be more rewarding than you think.

Take a Trip to Myles Standish Cemetery

For those interested in early American history, a trip to the Myles Standish Cemetery could be in order. This small, 1.5-acre plot of land is the oldest maintained cemetery in the United States and is said to be the resting place of the famous Captain Myles Standish himself. You can find this ancient burying ground in Duxbury, Massachusetts where it was in use between the years of 1638 and 1789. The cemetery fell into disrepair after it was abandoned for a larger space but was reclaimed and excavated in 1887 when interest in Pilgrim history grew. It is now owned and maintained by the Duxbury Rural Society and was inducted into the National Register of Historic Places in 2015. 

The History

Duxbury itself was inhabited by settlers from Plymouth County in 1627, and after petitioning for their own Meeting House, the area became an official town. Soon after the meeting house was built in 1638 a burying ground was required. Settlers built this early cemetery nearby, and a stone can still be found in the area today to designate where that first meeting house was. The first inhabitants to pass away were buried with markers made from simple stones or wooden crosses. These have unfortunately deteriorated and been lost to time. It’s believed that most, if not all, of Duxbury’s first residents were buried in this cemetery, but their resting places are unknown. 

Only approximately 130 marked headstones remain in the Myles Standish Cemetery today. The oldest carved memorial belongs to Captain Jonathan Alden who passed away in 1697. His parents were John Alden and Priscilla Mullins Alden, both passengers on the Mayflower. This stone is, however, an outlier as most surviving memorials date between the 1760s and 1770s. It’s believed only about 34 headstones pre-date 1750. While this was once a popular resting place with crowded markers, the few that remain are sparse and scattered.

Uncovering the Forgotten

In 1785 the city of Duxbury moved its primary burying site to the new Mayflower Cemetery. With this move, the old burying ground fell into disrepair and was eventually forgotten; it became a regular grazing area for local cattle. This could have been the end for what would become the Myles Standish Cemetery, but in 1858 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote “The Courtship of Myles Standish” which renewed interest in Pilgrim history. Duxbury had fallen into economic hardship, but with increased tourism from their historic connections, they were able to focus attention and money on the forgotten burying ground. Around 1887 the Duxbury Rural Society was formed and set out to repair and restore the old cemetery. They removed brush, put up a fence to deter wandering cattle, and repaired any headstones they could. The property has been kept and maintained as a local historic site ever since.

What About Myles Standish?

With the influx of visitors to the newly restored Myles Standish Cemetery came questions about where this famous man was actually buried. Throughout the 1880s there was a great deal of debate about where he was interred, and after much research, it was agreed that he was likely in the center of the cemetery below two pyramid-shaped stones. The Duxbury Rural Society wanted more than an assumption and chose to exhume the area in 1889 to much dissent. Two bodies were exhumed, one elderly male and one young female, but with no definitive evidence they were re-interred.

Just a couple of years later, in 1891, Reverend Eugene J.V. Huiginn received permission to perform yet another exhumation after proposing the area investigated wasn’t large enough. He and his team excavated and uncovered 4 sets of remains: an elderly man, 2 adult women, and a young boy. The ages and genders were identified by Dr. Wilfred G. Brown of Duxbury. Huiginn asserted that the man was Captain Myles Standish, the women were his daughter and daughter-in-law, and the boy was his son. This was accepted due to ages consistent with their death records. Standish and his family were then re-interred. A large memorial was placed over the burial site, leaving the original stone markers intact in the center. The new marker is comprised of large stone walls creating a rectangular monument with life-sized canons on each corner.

But this isn’t the end of the story for this historic cemetery. A third exhumation of Standish’s body was performed in 1931 due to his family’s request for a casket that would better preserve his remains. Standish was exhumed and placed in a copper box which was then surrounded by a cement chamber. Additionally, markers have been placed as recently as 1971 by descendants of members of Duxbury to honor their family members. These include stones for George Soule, and John and Priscilla Alden, all passengers of the Mayflower. Duxbury has worked hard to maintain this burying ground’s rich history; be sure to visit and explore the next time you’re in Massachusetts.

Most Beautiful Memorials in the World

Art and sculpture lovers alike frequent museums to appreciate ornate pieces, but perhaps they should be stopping by their local cemetery instead. Headstones can be beautiful works of art meant to honor those who have passed away. While many markers are simply names, dates, and small images, others have the unique goal of drawing attention to themselves. A walk through most cemeteries will reveal any number of lavish memorials. Many are designed by talented artists, architects, and sculptors to help preserve a family’s history. Below we’ll explore our picks for the top four most beautiful headstones in the world.

The Angel of Death Victorious

Also known as the Haserot Angel, this haunting figure can be found at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Winged angels were a common symbol of death throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, and the use of this image isn’t unique to the Haserot family’s memorial. What sets this sculpture apart are its stunning workmanship and aging bronze materials. After years of oxidation, the bronze has turned a powdery green, but rain and snow have caused the angel to seemingly be crying black tears. The image of an ominous, weeping angel presiding over a tomb has imprinted this headstone into the memory of all who see it, so much so that many people explore this 280-acre cemetery specifically in search of the Haserot Angel.

Rudolf Nureyev’s Oriental Rug

One of the most stunning mosaics in the world won’t be found in a museum or antique building, it’s quietly sitting at the orthodox cemetery of Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois. Famous Ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev was an avid collector of ornate rugs, carpets, and tapestries. He particularly loved Oriental Cilium rugs. Years after his death, set designer Ezio Frigerio, architect Stefano Pace, and mosaicist Francesca Fabbri installed his astonishing memorial. The sculpture is built to look like a rug draped over a coffin with all the folds and textures added to create realism. The stone rug was then covered in colorful mosaic tiles to enhance one of the most unique markers in the world. Art lovers won’t regret making a stop at this cemetery to visit Nureyev and his colorful headstone.

Daniel’s Growing Grave

We don’t commonly think of gravesites as growing, except perhaps the grass on top, but that is the case with Old Testament prophet Daniel’s supposed grave in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. History tells us that Timur, a Turco-Mongol leader on a quest to conquer Persia, stole and reinterred Daniel’s presumed remains near him for good luck. He believed Persia had previously evaded his conquest due to these remains bringing them good fortune. Over time, Timur became afraid of thieves stealing the valuable remains, so he extended the tomb to almost 60 feet in length to confuse them. Local legend, however, says that Daniel’s remains have grown each year and the grave has grown along with it. Many other places claim to be the final resting place of this prophet, but Timur’s ever-expanding tomb is certainly the most unique story.

Clasped Hands

In Roermond, Netherlands you can find a truly heartbreaking set of memorials. These two markers are those of Colonel Jacobus van Gorcum and Lady Josephina van Aefferden. Lady van Aefferden was a Catholic aristocrat, and her marriage to protestant Colonel van Gorcum was a newsworthy scandal in 1842. The Colonel, unfortunately, passed away in 1880 and was buried in the strictly protestant area of Roermond’s local cemetery. Knowing she would be interred in the Catholic sector, Lady van Aefferden insisted on not being buried in her family’s burial plot, but instead in a plot near the wall between the two halves of the cemetery. With a headstone very near her husband, Josephina was able to commission truly inspiring toppers for both markers. They were connected by hands clasping one another over the top of the wall. This way they could always be connected, even if cultural rules attempted to separate them.

The next time you pass a cemetery, consider taking a trip inside to honor the families and enjoy the art found there. You might be surprised by what stunning pieces can be found inside small, local spaces. Spending time around memorials is a great way to view museum-level art and preserve history at the same time. The stories they tell simply can’t be found anywhere else. We also recommend making cemetery tours part of vacations and trips; you’ll never learn the history of an area so well as when viewing the headstones of its predecessors. 

What Decor to Leave at a Gravesite

The area where a loved one is buried can become an important gathering place for families. This dedicated space allows us to remember those who are no longer with us, and there is often a desire to personalize the gravesite. Choosing to decorate a headstone is both personal and cultural. Many people leave flowers or trinkets because it makes their loved one feel closer, while others are compelled by traditions spanning generations. Because there are many who want to leave items in cemeteries, there is an etiquette involved, and even specific cemetery rules to follow. Here is a general guide to acceptable grave decor.

Acceptable Things to Leave

Without flowers and decor, a cemetery could have a bleak feel, but that is never the hope. Gravesites should be spaces for love and remembrance, and the joy of a few fresh flowers helps to create that mood. This is why many cemetery managers encourage friends and family to leave tokens behind. There are, however, some things that are preferred over others.

Placing flowers near or on a headstone is a tradition that begins at the burial. You could hardly walk through a cemetery without finding bouquets and arrangements all around. Flowers are almost always welcome, but there are sometimes restrictions to be aware of. For example, fresh flowers are a preferred choice because they are biodegradable and cause no harm to animal or plant life. Artificial flowers, on the other hand, are not always welcome due to environmental damage. Floral arrangements can include simple bouquets, holiday decorations, and grave blankets. Visit the cemetery’s website or give them a call to ensure you follow any rules they may have.

Coins and stones are two other widely acceptable headstone memorials. Leaving coins is traditional in many cultures, often with different denominations representing certain things. In the United States, coins are commonly left on the markers of military members. Pennies represent knowing the deceased; nickels symbolize that you attended boot camp with them; dimes speak to serving with that person, and a quarter means you were with the person when they passed away. In many Latin American cultures, coins are left in place of flowers. This is due to the sometimes prohibitive cost of flowers. Stones are another small token that can be left on a headstone. In keeping with Jewish traditions, stones are believed to protect a grave from evil spirits and are a natural element that is almost always allowed. Be sure to leave these items on top of the marker in a visible area so they aren’t lost or run over by groundskeeping equipment.

Things You Shouldn’t Leave

Grieving is certainly a personal experience, and many mourners want to leave significant items at the gravesite as a memorial to their loved one. Unfortunately, certain things can cause issues for groundskeepers or the local wildlife and environment. Many cemeteries have rules prohibiting these items, but it’s also best to be aware of the unspoken rules of grave etiquette before making any decorative purchases.

Always be hesitant about anything that isn’t biodegradable or easily removed. A popular choice is to leave stuffed animals near the headstone, but this is often discouraged by cemetery staff. Stuffed animals quickly succumb to the weather and look unkempt. While some cemeteries do still allow them, they may require the toys be removed quickly. Other things to avoid include anything made out of plastic like unattached vases and fencing. These items can break and damage lawn-mowing equipment; they could even be carried off and eaten by animals. Large flags are also discouraged because they can become dangerous when pulled out of the ground, but also because they could be a distraction to other mourners. It is important to consider the shared space when choosing particularly showy decorations. If an item could agitate other mourners, consider leaving it at home. 

It is certainly important to know the standards and be considerate of others when leaving headstone decor, but all of this is trumped by cemetery rules. Consider these rules when choosing where to bury your loved one. If you have the ability and desire to decorate regularly, look for a cemetery with more relaxed guidelines. If you prefer a cemetery that looks more uniform and neat, find somewhere whose rules align with that desire. Most cemeteries will be happy to provide this information via their website or by phone. In the end, whatever you choose to leave at your loved one’s memorial, be considerate of the rules and others. Groundskeepers, local wildlife, and other mourners will be grateful for your kindness.

Guidelines and Advice for Easter Headstone Decor

As we look forward to the thaw of Spring and an Easter holiday, thoughts may turn to loved ones who won’t be there to celebrate with us. While they may not be physically present, there are still ways to honor departed family and friends this Easter season. Winter is a difficult time to place gravesite flowers and decorations. The greenery tends not to last as long, and it can be nearly impossible to get vases and easels to stick into frozen ground. With warmer weather around the corner, your flowers can remain vibrant and well-secured. If you’re planning to decorate a headstone for Easter, here are some traditions, guidelines, and items you should be aware of.


Easter is one of the most popular times to invest in gravesite decor. We love to see people spending time caring for and decorating their loved one’s grave; it’s a wonderful, caring gesture that allows you to keep them close during the holiday. Because this holiday falls right at the beginning of Spring, brightly colored flowers are a common choice. Vivid pinks, purples, and blues can bring smiles even in difficult times. Pastel colors are also popular, along with white, to honor the more religious aspects of Easter. Floral arrangements often include white liles and daisies as a representation of holiness. While we love traditional grave decorations at this time of year, this is by no means a strict guideline. Honor your loved one with whatever colors and flowers you choose. Add some of their favorites to make this a truly personal experience. 


Walking into a floral shop or browsing pages online can provide an overwhelming amount of choices. You may have specific flowers and colors in mind, but how should they be arranged? The first question to ask yourself is how you’d like the arrangement to sit at the gravesite. Some are designed to sit on top of the headstone while others include easels or stakes meant to be placed in the ground nearby. Once you’ve decided which style works best, you can look at specific arrangement types.

If you’re walking through a cemetery around Easter, you’ll see no lack of elaborate flowers. Floral crosses may be the most popular choice at this time of year. Traditionally these will be composed of liles and greenery with a center bow; crosses are usually displayed using an easel to face outward. Other choices to sit next to the headstone include wreaths, which also sit on an easel, and cemetery vases, which have a stake on the bottom to secure them. For an option that sits directly on the marker, consider a headstone spray. These can vary in size. They frequently come with a saddle to easily secure them, and can be filled with flowers and greenery in whichever style you choose.

Cemetery Rules

Any time you choose to add something to a gravesite, be sure to check the cemetery’s rules first. Each cemetery is different, and may be guided by city, religious, or internal rules. Regulations may be placed on what flowers can be used, such as artificial versus real, what material vases can be made of, and whether things can be inserted into the ground. On a rare occasion, you may come across a cemetery that doesn’t allow decorating at all. In this case, please respect their guidelines and commemorate your loved one in a different way.

Be aware that most cemeteries are not responsible for the care, safekeeping, or condition of anything you leave behind. They are unlikely to notify you if your flowers are damaged or stolen. Arrangements and decorations are also commonly removed by staff on a regular basis. This might happen on a certain day of the week or simply when flowers start to droop; a call to the cemetery staff will let you know how quickly your floral arrangement may be removed. Most Catholic cemeteries do have exceptions for the season of Lent and could choose to leave decorations up longer. Whatever decor you choose, take the time to contact staff and ask about regulations. This step could stop you from having difficulties later. 

Participating in the tradition of Easter grave decorating is a great way to pay tribute to your loved one. If you are unable to care for a gravesite, there are still options to honor your loved one. Check your cemetery for special decoration programs in which staff provides decor and places it for you; they may even send photos of the setup if you request it. In the event that they do not have a program, check for grave care companies or individuals in your area. They may be able to provide general maintenance, tombstone cleaning, and holiday decoration. However you honor your loved one this holiday season, take the right approach, follow cemetery guidelines, and most of all, remember them well. 

Headstone Rubbing can Preserve History

Headstone rubbing is an ancient tradition used by family historians and researchers to preserve marker inscriptions. This is the process through which a piece of paper and writing implement is used to create an impression of a headstone’s carvings. It can help to record lettering, inscribed patterns, and natural textures. Through time and wear a headstone can become illegible. Headstone rubbing can bring out letters and designs that would be difficult to see, allowing the user to read what was carved there so long ago otherwise. This practice is controversial, however, due to the damage it can cause to the memorial with repeated rubbings. If headstone rubbing is something you would like to explore, read on to learn the dos and don’ts.


Most importantly, you must contact the cemetery before heading out with supplies in hand. Many cemeteries prohibit headstone rubbing because of potential damage, so check with the proper authorities, such as the cemetery superintendent, cemetery commissioner, or even a historical society. They may direct you to obtain a permit, depending on the area. After receiving permission, examine the monument you’ve selected for cracks, breaks, instability, or any other deterioration. A headstone in poor condition may not be able to withstand rubbing, so if damage is present you’ll need to find a different monument.

Next, it’s time to select your supplies. You’ll need a soft brush, plain water, a rag, a large piece of paper, masking tape, and something to deposit pigment. The paper should be large enough to wrap entirely around the headstone, and the pigment depositor can be either rubbing wax, charcoal, or a large, dark-colored crayon. This project is quite similar to children placing a leaf under a piece of paper and running a crayon over the paper to create an imprint. A pigment with a large surface area will allow you to use even, gentle pressure and finish with a successful image.

How to start

Use water, a brush, and a rag to gently clean the monument. Be cautious when removing dirt and plant life. If the headstone is covered in lichen that doesn’t come off with gentle cleaning, don’t try to remove it. After cleaning, wrap your paper completely around the headstone and tape it securely. It is important to use easily removable tape that won’t leave residue on the headstone. Don’t be afraid to use extra tape, especially on a windy day, as it keeps your paper from shifting. Rub the entire headstone with your crayon or wax to capture an image of the whole stone. It is especially important to rub the complete surface if your goal is restoration; a restorer will use this rubbing to understand images, fonts, and dimensions.

Once you have finished creating your image, be sure to clean the entire area. Collect all supplies and take them with you. Don’t leave art supplies or garbage behind; remember to be respectful of the deceased and the cemetery staff. If possible, leave the headstone area cleaner than you found it. 

Is it harmful or illegal?

Headstone rubbing can be a controversial practice. The good news for historians and hobbyists is that it is not illegal, but many cemeteries do have rules prohibiting it. In older cemeteries or cemeteries undergoing refurbishment, rubbing may not be allowed at all. Rubbing stones in poor condition could cause accelerated decomposition or even make the headstone fall apart before your eyes. Causing additional damage to a memorial is never desirable, and is sadly a possibility without research and permission. Always contact the proper authorities and examine the headstone before beginning. 

Adopting headstone rubbing as a new hobby can be rewarding. It can allow you to preserve general or family-specific history by learning exact names and dates, reading quotes, and appreciating symbols or pictures. Many headstone rubbing aficionados also collect this unique artwork to frame and display. These framed pieces are great conversation starters few others will have in their homes. You will also be able to admire the skill of artisan carvers from past generations, viewing stone carvings that would otherwise be lost. 

Rubbings can also be helpful for those wishing to restore or recreate damaged markers. If you’re hoping to add to or restore an existing headstone, companies like Legacy Headstones may request a rubbing to understand the dimensions and lettering style. Whether you’re hoping to develop an exciting craft or looking into restoration, headstone rubbing may quickly become an addictive outing. With simple paper and charcoal, you can preserve a slice of lasting history.

Getting Started with Headstone Additions

There may come a time when you need to add to a loved one’s headstone. This could include adding a name, a date, a design, or an emblem. If another loved one has passed away and was buried nearby, adding their name to a spouse or family member’s existing memorial is a suitable choice. Perhaps you may want to add a significant quote or date to honor your deceased loved one at a later time. While adding to a headstone is unlikely to be a quick process, it is fairly common. Additions can be made to almost any type of headstone. Even if you didn’t purchase the original marker from Legacy Headstones, we can often help with additions. Below we’ll discover what options are available and what you may need to get started. 

What information do you need?

You’ll first want to ask yourself whether the existing headstone has enough room for an addition. Many manufacturers will keep an informational file on their customers; speaking with them is a good early step. They can let you know if your design ideas are a possibility. There are still options if you’re unsure who made the original headstone. Whatever company you choose to create the additions may attempt to contact the original manufacturer on your behalf, allowing them to understand the marker’s measurements and specifications. While this is helpful, if the information is unavailable, it is not completely necessary.

Before contacting a manufacturer for these additions, you’ll need to collect some information. You will need to provide your loved one’s first and last name, the name of the cemetery, and the exact location of the headstone within the cemetery. This will help speed the process along. If possible, also have a recent picture of the headstone on hand. It may seem like an unnecessary step, but this photo will allow designers to view available space and headstone condition. 

If enough space is available, the company will then create a rendering of your design. This should show where the design fits on the marker, and may even come with additional design options. In this way, you can get an idea of what’s being altered and how it will look. Be aware that names and dates are easier and faster to add than emblems, inscriptions, or designs. 

How long will this take?

The length of time this project will take depends on a number of factors. The first deciding factor is you. You’ll need to provide accurate and detailed information and agree on a price with the manufacturer; this could take days or even weeks, depending on the amount of back and forth involved in the decision-making process. Next, the company will visit and view the existing headstone. Weather permitting, they will get a tracing of the stone to ensure their designs will fit. The next step depends on both you and the cemetery itself. The manufacturer will need your approval and potentially some approvals from the cemetery. Certain cemeteries require simple notification of changes, while others require designs to be approved by a staff member. This typically means obtaining a signature from a responsible party within the organization. Once the approvals are complete, the designer can get started. 

This process should take about sixty days from start to finish. However, there is always the potential for delay. Delays to completion are often weather-related, and certain regions may only be able to complete these additions during limited months or seasons. While weather delays can add time, they will also ensure your additions are done well. Additional interruptions can be avoided by immediately providing cemetery, plot, and marker information and quickly responding to manufacturer questions.

Where are additions made?

Additions are most commonly made at the cemetery. Engravings made onsite after initial approval can be done to match the style and quality of existing work. This is a much simpler process for both you and the manufacturer, allowing you to avoid removing and reinstalling your loved one’s headstone. That being said, particularly complex designs or designs that need to be etched may need to be brought to a controlled facility to be worked on. 

If your loved one’s headstone is older or in less-than-ideal condition, you may want to consider having it professionally cleaned and restored at the time of addition. This can include additional touchups, including repainting if needed, being done at the cemetery before additions are made., Cleaning can help old carvings look fresh alongside any new work.

How much does it cost?

Cost should be discussed directly with the company performing the additions. While costs can be as low as $300 for simple changes, that number can increase depending on many factors. Designers will consider the number of additions, including names, dates, plaques, artwork, the lettering style and finish, the addition’s size, and the design complexity when estimating a cost. The best way to get an accurate price is to contact a professional and let them know what you’re hoping to alter on your loved one’s memorial.

Whether you’re adding names and dates or looking for a complete redesign, options are available and can enhance an existing memorial. Be sure to collect all the information needed to get your additions finished efficiently. When you’re ready, submit this information to our team and we will follow up with designs and estimated costs. At Legacy Headstones, we know adding to a loved one’s headstone can be an emotional choice, and we’re here to help you through it.

Learn to Spot Low-Quality Headstones

Commemorating your loved one with a memorial is a tangible way to express your love and care. Headstones are a common way to fulfill that need, and when your loved one passes away, it’s common to feel overwhelmed by the choices and prices of everything you may need. It may be tempting to choose a headstone that is less expensive. Unfortunately, the lower expense may be an indicator of a low-quality marker.

The reality is that no headstone will stay in its prime condition forever. Often, these markers will decay slightly over time due to weather and other damage. While less expensive headstones may seem like a good option in the beginning, you’re likely to see their poor quality over time. Their integrity will degrade more quickly and look much worse than their higher-quality counterparts. Let’s explore how to spot a low-quality headstone and instead find a memorial that will honor your loved one for generations.

Low-Quality Lettering and Lines

Walking through a cemetery, you may wonder why a headstone from 100 years ago is still easily legible while one from only a few years prior is impossible to make out. The simple answer is quality. Antique headstones were created through methods that took time and care and materials that were known to stand the test of time. Modern headstones can still be made that way, but they can just as often be made by cutting corners. 

Lower-cost headstones are often priced that way as a result of the time it takes to create them. Lettering and lines should be carved at a depth that lasts, but low-quality manufacturers may cut corners and carve shallow words or designs. Most headstone manufacturers use a highlighter to enhance the effects of their lettering, and even low-quality headstones can be painted and highlighted enough to look passable for the first few years. As time goes on, the shallower depths at which they are carved will weather and deteriorate. This applies to both lettering and lines. The shortcuts used on these markers will result in rough edges and an unfinished look that will become more and more obvious as it ages. Markers of this quality may eventually be difficult to read or even illegible entirely. 

Poor Alignment 

Alignment is a noticeable flaw even with no previous headstone experience. This is another issue that highlights the lack of time taken when making a low-quality product. When made in a hurry, proper alignment is something that is often overlooked, but it is an extremely noticeable defect. If possible, view real-life examples of a manufacturer’s work and pay special attention to the installation. A poorly installed marker could be clearly tilted to one side, showing text and images askew. This is an extremely bothersome and expensive issue to fix. Realigning your loved one’s headstone could require removing it completely, which will call for a professional, added cost, and a potential emotional toll. Avoid this issue entirely by selecting a high-quality manufacturer.

Improper and Missing Foundations

A home without a foundation would crumble in the first major storm, the same is true of a headstone. A simple ring of concrete around the marker won’t be enough to hold it for long. This un-reinforced method will quickly cause leaning and eventually a complete failure to stand. 

Even markers that sit flush with the ground also need a strong foundation. For this type of memorial, the foundation provides protection. The wider concrete or granite base will protect from lawnmower damage, pedestrian damage, and other causes of chipping. These markers can also be prone to slipping and tipping if not installed with care. A strong foundation will help your headstone stay sturdy, undamaged, and in its proper place.

If you’ve made a large purchase in the past, you know that lower cost doesn’t always mean good value. An inexpensive couch may look nice initially, but the cushioning and fabric are likely less durable. The foam may degrade, and the color may fade within a short amount of time. The same is true for headstones. A low-quality option could look similar to a high-quality one in the beginning, but over time it will likely shift, fade, and the lettering may become jagged and unreadable.

A headstone should be timeless. One hundred years from now, your loved one’s memorial should still stand tall in their memory. It should still be legible and intact. Choosing a high-quality marker now can mean not having to deal with costly maintenance or an entire replacement in the future. Be wary of suspiciously low prices and find something strong that will last. Legacy Headstones is well-regarded for our quality and care; we are here to help you select the most meaningful memorial for your loved one while respecting your budget for a high-quality piece.

Headstone Accessories for New or Existing Memorials

When a loved one leaves us, there are a host of decisions to be made. Headstones are often at the top of that long list, but what often goes by the wayside is headstone accessories. By the time you get to this choice, you may be experiencing decision fatigue. If this is the case, know that accessories can be added at any time. You may choose to install them right along with the headstone for convenience or wait years down the road to honor your loved one at a significant time. While headstone extras are certainly not necessary for a beautiful gravesite, they can be a way to personalize and pay tribute to your loved one’s memorial. Below we’ll review several different options to add to any headstone.

Cemetery Statues

Statues may be the most recognizable headstone accessory. While incredibly customizable, they are often spiritual, featuring angels and various religious figures. Most are made from marble or granite, and the beauty of these natural materials is well-known, but bonded marble has gained popularity in recent years. Bonded marble is a composite made of marble powder and resin poured into a mold; this creates a durable piece unlikely to break or weather prematurely. A statue made in this way will also typically be less expensive than hand-carved marble or granite. Statue costs can begin around $100 and rise based on size, material, and complexity. Research your specific needs before deciding on a budget for this item as costs can vary significantly. 

Cemetery Vases

Vases allow you to add an ever-changing floral element to your loved one’s headstone. When deciding on a permanent vase, there are two options: above-ground and in-ground. Above-ground vases are mounted directly onto the headstone, typically with epoxy glue. They are usually made from solid granite but can be made in bronze to match a bronze headstone. Headstones can often be ordered with these vases attached. If you are adding the vase to an existing marker, be sure the area is large enough for the base of your chosen vase. 

In-ground bases are slightly different in that they are not affixed to the marker itself. They are traditionally made of aluminum or zinc and then surrounded by a protective casing. Many manufacturers sell in-ground vases to match their headstones, which can be helpful if you purchase a marker and vase at the same time. If this is a later addition and you’re unsure of the manufacturer, try sending a photo of your marker to Legacy Headstones. Experts can often help identify the original producer and find a matching accessory.

Vases can be a less expensive accessory choice, starting at under $100. However, many people choose to purchase vases in sets to display one on each side of their marker. This will usually double the overall cost. Larger vases can be more expensive, so consider what flowers you’ll want to exhibit when researching this product. 

Ceramic Photos

A photo of your loved one permanently affixed to a headstone may be the most personal touch you can add. The photo image is transferred onto a ceramic vase, and colors are then baked directly into the ceramic to ensure they are durable over time. Ceramic photos are designed in such a way that harsh weather and sunlight won’t fade or damage them. These photos are available in color or black and white. 

Choosing the right photo for this memorial can be difficult. If you need extra time, know that this decision can come later. Take your time reminiscing and reviewing photos of your loved one, and when you’re ready, add this accessory to the headstone at any time. Costs can range from as low as $100 for a smaller photo to $500 for something larger. 

Holders and Hangers

For a less permanent change, a holder or hanger may be the right choice. This can include flower pot holders, vase holders, flag holders, wreath hangers, and headstone saddles. Each of these items is designed to be added and removed easily, allowing you to alter a marker briefly and at a low cost, ranging from $10 to $30 on average. 

Adding accessories to a headstone is a thoroughly personal choice. There is no one size fits all answer. The inclusion of headstone extras can help express difficult emotions while personalizing a unique memorial. There is no rush to make this decision. You may have the desire to add these items right away, but you may also find the choice difficult when your grief is fresh. While we can certainly help you accessorize immediately, we are happy to assist you a year, five years, or even twenty years down the road. Whether you choose to accessorize or not, Legacy Headstones is here to help you create a beautiful and lasting memorial for your loved one.