Humans have marked the final resting place of their loved ones and respected leaders for thousands of years. Ancient cultures used mounds of dirt, stones or timber. Pyramids, cathedrals and ornate mausoleums were constructed to honor important people. Today, the cemetery monument serves the same purpose, to highlight a life well-lived. Take time when choosing a monument for your deceased friend or family member that reflects how they wish to be remembered.
The Drive to Erect Memorials to the Dead
The structure placed on the grave of the recently deceased serves one main purpose: to create a memory. As you walk through a cemetery, each monument reminds you that a unique individual once lived on this planet. Some were influential scholars while others were known for being just good people. Regardless of the type or size of monument, it shows that the person is worth remembering, and that others thought so by erecting this tribute.
Typical Monument Styles to Choose From
There are four traditional designs today for the typical cemetery grave marker:
- Monument - The basic form is a rectangular slab set upright in the ground with engravings on the visible surface.
- Slant - This is a wedge-shaped marker, wider at the bottom than the top, which is more stable when set into the ground.
- Flat - This marker lies flat on the ground with engraving on the upper surface.
- Ornamental - This includes benches, statues, or custom objects placed on a flat slab.
Multiple styles can be mixed on one memorial. The choice depends on your aesthetic preferences and budget.
Materials Used to Create Monuments
Marble, granite and bronze are the conventional materials used although there are always options to use special materials including glass, silver and natural stone.
Marble was a long-time favorite of monument companies because of its ease of engraving and polishing. Wind and air pollution has taken a toll on these monuments rendering some nearly unreadable.
Granite, originally difficult to cut and engrave, bears up to the weather better with even the oldest stones being readable. New techniques for the quarrying, cutting and polishing of this stone have made granite cemetery monuments a preferred choice. Granite, from places like Genesis Granite, is heavy, difficult to steal, and resists most attempts at vandalism. It also requires minimum maintenance.
Bronze monuments look best when they are first erected but begin to deteriorate quickly. Modern hydrocarbon pollution and acid rain contribute to the tarnish and pitting of bronze markers. They require frequent maintenance to retain their original luster.
The monument you choose creates a symbolic memory for your loved one for many years to come, even long after you are gone. Choose a monument that lets even strangers viewing it know that a special person once walked the planet and is now but a memory.