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.
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.