Different Types of Monuments And How To Choose One

There are plenty of different types of gravemarker styles to choose from.

From the simple headstone marker to huge monuments, which one you choose may vary based upon your personal preferences, as well as the rules of the cemetery where you (or your loved one) will be buried.

Here, we will tell you a bit more about the various types of gravemarker options that are available. We just know that at least one of these styles will appeal to you.

If you are unsure as to where to buy one of the styles you would prefer, ask your local memorialist for help.

The Headstone Marker

A headstone marker has been very popular for a long time. It is called such because it is placed directly over the head of the buried body of the deceased.

Some people also opt to put a smaller stone marker at the feet of the body, as well, normally inscribed with initials. Neither of these markers are very big.

Almost every headstone marker is also called a tablet. Tablets are available in Gothic, rustic, domed, simple, and shouldered styles. These are mostly found in older cemeteries.


Crosses are one of the most common gravemarker styles that incorporated religious iconography. This sort of marker may not be allowed at all cemeteries.

The rustic cross was the most popular during the 20s and 30s. It appears to be made of wood, though it is made of stone. The Latin cross and Celtic cross are also popular types of headstone marker that incorporates this symbol. The Latin cross is susceptible to damage. The Celtic cross is very ornate.

The Calvary cross, or a Latin cross mounted on a three-tiered base, is yet another variation on this theme.


Markers are the most durable of gravemarker styles. Mostly because they are thicker and lower to the ground than headstone marker styles. Because of this, they last longer.

Plaques are also included in this category and are thinner than headstones. They are also usually made out of bronze and not stone. The ledger, block, and flat marker are all styles of this sort of marker.

Scroll faced, slant faced, open book, and a vertical faced marker with a slant top are other examples. As you can imagine, all of these are made from granite or marble. A few might be fashioned from concrete.


Columns are quite popular gravemarker styles. These memorial can be very large with lots of room for inscription.

Basically, the difference in column styles is seen at the top of the column itself. As you can imagine, these monuments are available in Classical Greek, and standard column styles.

Pilasters can be topped with urns or a flats top. They might be square or rectangle shaped. A Stele ends in a cresting ornament. A broken column might be used where a person died before their time.

A monument with two columns might be used to symbolize a gateway to the afterlife.


Obelisks originated in ancient Egypt to symbolize rays or the sun or the sun god, Ra.

Unlike headstone marker styles, again, these have lots of room for inscription. Obelisks, like columns, are classified based upon their tops.

Traditionally, obelisks had pyramid (or pointed) shaped tops. They are normally square in nature and might be on a pedestal or not. Other types of obelisks, called truncated, have rounded tops.

Cross-vaulted obelisks have capital tops, which appear like vaulted ceilings in churches.

Most of these gravemarker stones are made of granite, sandstone, or marble. Some might be made of bronze, too.


Pedestal gravemarker stones are among the largest. They are decorated with inscriptions on four sides, not just one like a headstone marker.

On the top they might be flat, or might have a triangle structure on them. An urn may or may not be placed at the very top. These are made of granite or marble, typically.

The only gravemarker larger than a pedestal are granite Eclectic monuments, which generally incorporate up to three columns.

A pediment capital is placed on top of the three columns. They have a flat portion where inscriptions can be made.


Believe it or not, lifelike depictions of tree stumps were also once popular for gravemarker choices.

These monuments are typically fairly large. They symbolize a loved one who died suddenly, before it was time, “cut down in their prime,” so to speak.

Inscriptions can be cut into the memorial itself, or placed on a scroll attached to the carving.

Various pieces of flora might be carved into the memorial. Initials of other family members who have died early in their lives can also be added to this monument, over time.

Symbolic markers might also be carved on or placed on top of the stump itself.

Eldercare : An Overview

When persons get retired from their jobs they reach to an age where they need some special care as they entered into elder ages.

It is one of the biggest decisions the families have to make about how to provide their elders proper care when those elders are no longer able to live independently.

Families resolve this complex and emotionally charged issue in a variety of ways. Some families find ways to provide elders with sufficient assistance such that they are able to safely remain in their own homes.

Some other families find that placing their elder into a care facility is the best solution for their elders as they may get proper care than at their own homes.

Finding appropriate and affordable elder care and assistance is challenging. Determining exactly what type of care will best fit elders’ needs is a time consuming process that often requires consultation with medical and eldercare professionals.

Locating affordable appropriate and reliable care options is time consuming and is most important aspect of consideration. Different types of care are available in different places, while costs and quality vary widely.

Elderly care or simply eldercare is the fulfillment of the special needs and requirements that are unique to senior citizens. This broad term encompasses such services as assisted living, adult day care, nursing homes and In-home care etc.

Majority of the elderly who have a long-term care need but no family available to care for them are in nursing homes, while less than 10% who have a family caregiver are in institutional settings.

Most caregivers cope well, but it can be challenging to care for a loved one at home. Seniors who need care need help which can be costly. Community service agencies are available to assist, and the options should be investigated before the need arises.

Adult children of these seniors often find it difficult to help their parents make the right choices.

What happens if a caregiver begins to feel stress and find perhaps that they are unable to continue in their role?

This creates a crisis in the family where a decision may have to be made to send the senior to a long-term care facility or nursing home or other residential care facility. 

Families are increasingly involved in caring for older adults who want to remain at home. Providing that care can be one of the most rewarding experiences of ones life. It can be one of the most challenging experiences as well.

To meet these challenges, advice and guidance from experienced professionals can be important and helpful.

Related Eldercare Articles

Living Wills 101

The purpose of a Living Will declaration is to document your wish that life-sustaining treatment, including artificially or technologically supplied nutrition and hydration, be withheld or withdrawn if you are unable to make informed medical decisions and are in a terminal condition or in a permanently unconscious state.

  1. Life-sustaining treatment means any health care, including artificially or technologically supplied nutrition and hydration, that will serve mainly to prolong the process of dying.
  2. Terminal condition or terminal illness means an irreversible, incurable and untreatable condition caused by disease, illness or injury. Your physician and one other physician will have examined you and believe that you cannot recover and that death is likely to occur within a relatively short time if you do not receive life-sustaining treatment.
  3. Permanently unconscious state means an irreversible condition in which you are permanently unaware of yourself and your surroundings. Your physician and one other physician must examine you and agree that the total loss of higher brain function has left you unable to feel pain or suffering.

Having a Living Will does not affect the responsibility of healthcare personnel to provide comfort care to you. Comfort care means any measure taken to diminish pain or discomfort, but not to postpone death.

In most states, a Living Will is applicable only to individuals in a terminal condition or a permanently unconscious state. If you wish to direct medical treatment in other circumstances, you should prepare a Health Care Power of Attorney.

The Health Care Power of Attorney form gives the person you designate (agent or attorney-in-fact) the authority to make most healthcare (including dental, nursing, psychological, and surgical) decisions for you if you lose the capacity to make informed health care decisions for yourself. This authority is effective only when your attending physician determines that you have lost the capacity to make informed health care decisions for yourself. As long as you have the capacity to make informed health care decisions for yourself, you retain the right to make all medical and other healthcare decisions.

You may also limit the healthcare decisions that your agent will have the authority to make. The authority of the agent to make health care decisions for you generally will include the authority to give informed consent, to refuse to give informed consent, or to withdraw informed consent to any care, treatment, service, or procedure to maintain, diagnose, or treat a physical or mental condition. Jayden Briggs writes about Houston Collection Attorneys, Indianapolis Collection Attorneys and other legal topics.

Related Living Will Articles

How To Choose Your Power Of Attorney

Choosing your power of attorney is a serious matter.

This is someone you’re going to trust to ensure your final wishes are carried out, your best interests are maintained, and that those you care for are taken care of. Even after you are physically or mentally no longer capable of doing these things, the POA you choose will be able to make sure all matters concerning your life and estate are managed in as straightforward a manner as possible.

The ultimate decision of choosing your power of attorney is a grave matter. However, understanding the process of how one goes about choosing a power of attorney is fairly simple.

Choose Your Power Of Attorney

When you’re going about the process of choosing your power of attorney, someone who is going to manage some of the most crucial and intimate details of your life, there are a number of things you’re going to want to keep in mind:

  1. Given that your POA is someone who is going to be responsible for handling your financial and legal affairs, it’s just commonsense to choose someone who has a strong degree of experience in both of these fields. It may also be a good idea to consider someone who has experience in dealing with family members or other individuals who may try to alter your wishes after you are no longer capable of speaking for yourself.
  2. There are a number of qualities you need to look for in a worthy POA. These qualities include someone who has a keen ability to appreciate details, someone who understands what the position will entail and takes those responsibilities seriously, someone who knows how to handle a business and various money matters, and someone who is able to work with attorneys and accountants.
  3. It should go without saying that the POA you choose is someone you know you can trust.
  4. When choosing a POA, consider a lengthy, conversational interview process. Discuss with the potential candidate everything that you would require of them as your POA. You can gauge things like how competent they will be in the job, and whether or not they are someone you are going to be able to trust, simply by paying attention to the sorts of answers they give you.

In the end, choosing someone to operate as your power of attorney can involve a good deal of critical thinking and careful research. You want to be confident in the decision you’re making.

A Purchase for Eternity | Traditional Retail vs. Online Memorial Monument Purchase

15 years ago most people thought they would never purchase things online. They couldn’t trust it. They felt that by purchasing their items in a local store, not only did they get it instantly, but they knew where to turn when they had a problem and they were assured of getting that item.

Fast forward to today. People are purchasing nearly everything online. Cars, food, homes, televisions, toys. There is no limit to what you can purchase over the internet.

But Monuments?

I have been a monument retailer for the last 8 years (a short time by industry standards).

I started my shop in 2006, selling memorials to the families of my area. Prior to that I worked for a wholesaler who imported granite of different colors for monument builders. We have been very blessed to be as successful as we have been. I started up in a bad economy and since we have grown to having a good display and nice office.

We have won several awards for monuments we have produced for our customers as well as receiving Memorialist of the Year for 2013 by the Southern Monument Builders Association. I currently reside as the President of that same association.

My business is also a member of the Monument Builders of North America and I sit on several committees.

When I started in 2006, I knew the importance of making sure my customers had quick access to me and what I could do online. So, of course, a web presence was vital. However, I never had any desire to sell monuments directly online.

What is What?

Since we are located in a community that is heavily centered around a major university (Texas A&M University), a great deal of our sales are handled via email.

Most people in this day and age do not live where they grew up. While 50-60 years ago most people didn’t move far from where they were raised, that is not the case anymore. And for us, we have a lot of people who attended our beloved university and desire to retire in the area. Most of those families have kids who are scattered all over the country, and some the world.

So clearly we deal with a lot of email sales.

An email sale and an internet sale are two different things.

For the monument industry, an internet sale would be classified as a memorial that was sold directly from the internet with little or no communication between the consumer and the retailer. That would be an email, phone call, etc.

An email sale would be a sale that is primarily discussed, designed, and transmitted through email. There may be several phone calls that correspond during this time and the customer may even make a visit to the retailer’s location.

What to Consider

There are very important aspects to understand when considering who to purchase from. The questions you must ask yourself when you begin this portion of planning are:

  • How important is the quality of what I am purchasing?
  • Does what I am purchasing fit within the allotted restrictions that the cemetery allows for me?
  • Who is going to install my memorial?
  • What are the TRUE costs of what I am purchasing?

It is important to determine whether the online retailer or your local memorialist fits the criteria you desire. Not all online retailers are bad, and not all traditional retail memorialists are good and vice versa.

But it is always important to keep in mind the question “Why”.

Why does this price seem SO much lower than the other prices I have seen? Odds are much more likely that something was left out or missed when quoting that stone to the other ones. Maybe the size is a little different.

DO NOT be afraid to ask questions so that you can understand WHY the price is different.

Consider the Costs

There are a lot of online stores who have monuments listed and a list of designs you can pick from. They are pre-priced.

You can punch in your credit card and order any one of those items and you are done.

But there are some things you must be aware of.

No matter where you purchase a monument, there are 5 things that will dictate what the price of that stone is. No two monument companies are alike since we all typically configure our prices differently.

However, what controls your price on any given stone are:

  • Shape
  • Size
  • Color
  • Polish and

I put emphasis on that last part because we are discussing online purchasing. A predetermined price does not account for the location and setting fees that may or will be assessed.

There are nearly 300 – 400 cemeteries within 90 miles of my location.

Each is operated by a different organization; has a different set of rules; and has its own contact for marking the plots in order for us to install the memorial.

There may be certain times we are required to contact the cemetery to schedule installation, or a certain gate code to get in. We have even had some cemeteries where there is no possible way to get to the plot without a large crane.

When we sell a monument, all of these things are factored into the price of the stone. This is why you will typically find that the price online is, in many cases, half the price, if not lower, than your average brick and mortar memorialist.

On several occasions, I have had families that have already purchased a monument online; it was shipped to their home; and now they are contacting us to see what it costs to get that stone installed.

My shop is rare because we will install stones that are purchased online. However, I am very honest with our customers. It is far more expensive to purchase the stone online and then have us install the stone than it would have been if they would have purchased the stone from us in the first place.

We don’t do this to be rude or insensitive. The costs involved, what it takes for us to install it, and the risks we take on are the reasons for this. If we damage the stone, we will need to be able to replace it.

The equipment we operate to perform the job is expensive as well as our trained staff. All of these things, plus the cost of our insurance and overhead, have to be accounted for.

On top of it all, our customers who purchase directly from us clearly need to take priority. But we will install them because I cannot stand to leave a family in a situation where they purchased a stone and have no way to install it. In our area, we are the only shop that will install that stone.

Where is the Artwork?

When a memorial is purchased from a typical retail memorialist, you should expect that you can customize that design of the stone however you wish.

Moving the name down a few inches, creating different roses from pictures, using different textures are all things that go into creating a memorial that tells the story and life of the individual it is for.

Most shops will keep brochures handy to give families ideas. But it is up to the artist to tell the story the family is requesting.

There are some online stores that will do the same, but it is not likely that you will get the attention you need from a place that makes getting in touch with an individual over the phone difficult.

Make sure that you can either directly talk to or email a single individual to get certain particular items adjusted that you want.

Our philosophy is that every stone is unique. They all tell their own story.

That means that every design needs to be one of a kind. While we may utilize certain features several times, we rarely replicate a stone twice.

When we do, it is typically for the same family. We are very I have all of the brochures and flyers here at my shop for people to see. And the truth is I have to dust them off to use them because they rarely get touched.

Most of what we do is sold off of ideas from our customers; pictures of work we have completed; and sketches from stories told to us by the family.

We have made Lego shaped monuments, sculpted trees that are shaped to be crosses and many others.

Any shop that can create custom memorials from art work and do a good job should also be expected to do outstanding work on even the simplest of jobs.

What to Look For

Out of all of the shops across the country that sell monuments (including the online companies), you can expect that fewer than 50% of them are actual Memorial Artists.

Even still, fewer can be considered Stone Carvers (meaning they can carve stone shapes on their own) and only a handful of them are actual sculptors.

This doesn’t mean that the other 50% can’t do what you are looking for. It just means that they are different.

Don’t think of the Memorial as a commodity, an item you can shop around for until you get the best price.

Think of it as a work of art.

You should be interviewing the artist and designers to find who you think can do the best job. But there are a few credentials that you can look for to quickly determine the worth of the shop you are dealing with.

There Are a Few Organizations to Look For

Are they a member of the MBNA (Monument Builders of North America)?

This is the National Memorialist association that many are members of. The MBNA have set standards in order to be a member. You can even look up the members in your area on their website, www.monumentbuilders.org

Are they a member of their regional association?

Here in Texas the association that represents us is the Southern Monument Builders Association, which, like many others, has values that they hold their members to. http://southernmonumentbuilders.com

There are a number of these associations around the country. Mid-America, the Carolinas, and New England just to name a few. Just like you would find an “ASE” sticker on the window or door of your local mechanic’s office, you should find association member stickers on the windows or doors of these shops.

Finally, are they a member of the AICA (American Institute for Commemorative Art)?

The AICA is an invitation only association that upholds a standard of artwork produced. Members only become a part of the association by being nominated by existing members that see the quality in what they produce. From there they are to submit examples of their work to a committee that votes on whether or not they are a good candidate and fit to join. http://www.monuments-aica.com

This organization is strictly about the artwork. Being a member gives you certification that you would put out by your name. Think of members of this association like a board certified Doctor.

I know that this is a lot of information, but the purchase of a memorial is an important one.

The expense can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to the millions.

However, the decisions made are more lasting than the decisions you would make while building a house, and similarly effective to what you will pay.

Always think of your purchase of a memorial as the last gift you will ever give your loved one.

It is the one gift that will truly tell their story and legacy for the ages to come. It will outlast any of the paper work that marks their existence in history.

By Tony Watson of Watson Signs & Monuments