When our loved ones pass, they leave an immense space within our lives and hearts that feel the loss achingly. One of the hardest, and for some, most important aspects of remembering life is to choose a befitting memorial or gravestone for you, your family, and friends to keep precious memories and help with the grieving process.
Angel memorials refer to grave markers, tombstones, or headstones, where sculptures of angels display emotions felt for the deceased. Angel engravings or sculptures can have religious and emotional significance. For many, the symbolism and artistry of an angel memorial headstone are deeply personal to them and perhaps to the loved one that has passed. But when seeking the ideal angel gravemarker, what types are there? Do they have meaning?
Today, we would love to be able to help clarify any questions you may have about the types of Angel memorials.
Angel Gravestones Through the Years
The concept of angel monuments, gravestones, and angel memorial motifs has been used throughout history, even before Christianity existed. Heavenly messengers pre-date Judaism, as angels were found in ancient Sumerian, Babylonian, Egyptian, Persian, and Greek religions—probably originating from Zoroastrianism, the oldest known world religion.
Angels represent the connection between the spiritual and the physical, strength, peace, faith, protection, healing, and beauty. Angel headstones can often comfort families after the passing of a loved one, reminding them that those they have lost are forever protected.
Throughout history and religion, angels are recognized by their light, feathery wings and connection to higher beings. Different religions may view angels differently, but almost all angels across cultures are depicted as spiritual guardians.
Types of Angel Memorial Sculptures
Angel Sculptures Pointing Upward
A common angel motif is that of an angel standing, with their face tilted down and their eyes on the ground in humility while pointing a single finger upward. This angel sculpture reminds visitors that loved ones have gone before them and are waiting for them in heaven and can also represent an angel guiding the soul to heaven.
They are depicted as kneeling with hands clasped before them or standing with hands held outward at the hips, palms up. Praying angels can symbolize the loved one buried was devoted to God or symbolized a guardian angel praying for their protection in the afterlife.
Angels With Head Bowed
Angel depictions showing them with their heads bowed, faces and eyes toward the earth, and hands clasped together or kneeling while doing so can symbolize grief for the loved one that has passed and sometimes represents the mourning of sudden and unexpected death.
Angels Weeping and Draped over the Headstone
Whether the headstone is upright, heart-shaped, pillow, or teardrop-shaped—these gravemarkers often have angels who appear gracefully draped across them or kneeling beside them, embracing the monument. Occasionally they may also hold items like roses or a rosary in their hands. These weeping angels signify the significant loss and heartbreak over losing a loved one.
Occasionally, you may see a headstone with a smaller angel, head down in their arms, with a toy in their hand—signifying the loss of an infant or a young child.
Angel Holding Lillies
An angel statue holding lilies represents Gabriel, considered an archangel or, in other words, a leader among the angels. In Hebrew records, Gabriel appears to the prophet Daniel to explain his visions. In the Gospel of Luke, Gabriel appears to the prophet Zechariah to announce the birth of John the Baptist and foretell the birth of Jesus to Mary.
The lilies in his hand, with white petals, symbolize the Virgin Mary's purity and innocence. The loved one buried here may be Roman Catholic or Anglican, as they viewed Gabriel as a saint. Or it could symbolize the passing of a young woman, gone too soon.
An Angel or Angels holding a Scroll or Board
Angels holding a scroll, a record, or a board-shaped object represent a guardian angel accompanying her charge to heaven and their judgment, with a carefully kept register of all their mortal deeds.
Angel headstones can help convey your deep emotions for the one you have lost through various beautiful poses and carving styles. While this time in anyone's life may be painful, angels have often comforted us that the ones we love will be taken care of and await us on the other side someday.
What matters most when you choose an angel memorial and its type is what feels right to you and right for the memory of your loved one.