When we were kids, my sister and I loved exploring a nearby cemetery to read the engravings we found on the fancy granite headstones there. We would call out to each other when we found a particularly interesting one. Some were plain – just the name of the person and the dates of their birth and death. Others were a brief history of a life well-lived. Some made us sad, like those in one area of the graveyard that had the graves of 7 infants from the same family, some newborn, and the others of varying ages, but all had died before his or her 3rd birthday and two had died on the very same day.
We spent a lot of time wondering what had happened. Had some mysterious illness struck this family and caused them to lose child after child? Had the mother been unable to carry some of the children to full term? Were living conditions so poor that they didn’t have enough food for the children?
Have you ever wandered through a graveyard and wondered some of the same things? And, after spending a while reading the last words that had been attached to the markers on some of the graves, did you, like my sister and I, wonder just what words might be chosen to mark your own grave after you are gone?
Recently, I read a newspaper article where a stone cutter was interviewed. He told the reporter that he really enjoyed preparing grave markers, because it made a permanent link between survivors and their deceased loved one. He also described a few of the most unusual markers he had been requested to make, such as one with a bowling pin, another with a push lawn mower, and several with photos and drawings that fit the personality of the deceased.
Most markers were done by hand until the early 1900’s, he said. After that a technique was developed where a blasting machine could etch pictures that had been transferred onto stone with a stencil. Now, etching the stones has been made even easier with the use of die cutting machines and rubber mats.
With all this new technology making the engraving of headstones easier, it stands to reason that the procedure of purchasing a grave marker would eventually come to the internet.
A few years ago, my husband and I purchased cemetery lots in the exact same graveyard my sister and I spent time in many years ago. We intended to buy headstones, and have our names and birth dates engraved so that our children would only need to have the death dates added to the stones after we were gone.
You probably know how that plan went. We keep mentioning it to each other, but as of this moment, haven’t followed through on our plan. Just today though, I did run across a very interesting advertisement online that allows you to choose from the company’s many grave marker shapes and then add the final words yourself. If you have a sense of humor, you could leave the world with one of your favorite jokes; if you are spiritual, no doubt you would want to leave one last plea that your loved ones get right with God before they join you in death; and, if you have a favorite quote, you might want to use that.
Just for fun, I chose the first design that came up-probably far too pretentious for an ordinary housecat, but I filled in some simple basic information and, voila, a picture of an elegant headstone honoring our cat, Diago, popped up. I am awed by what electronic technology can do. To see what my efforts achieved, see the picture accompanying this article. (You may need to click on it to make it large enough to read the lettering.) And, if you want to try your hand at creating a grave marker for yourself or a loved one, click on the link below and turn that designer inside of you loose to come up with something really unique. You are not obligated to buy, no matter how many designs you come up with.
Now, don’t go thinking I am actually going to order that tombstone I designed for Diago. It would be far too big to fit in the little flowerbed where she is buried, and I doubt that we will be spending that much money on our own grave markers, let alone on one for a pet. I just wanted you to see how easy it is to have your last words to your friends and relatives ordered up in just a few minutes online, and delivered, set in stone, in just a few days.
Another site I looked at offered 3 x 12 x 24 inch granite grave markers for $295, with a guarantee of delivery within 7 days. They also cautioned that you should discuss the matter with the director of the cemetery to make sure there weren’t any regulations preventing you from ordering your own marker. That was something I wouldn’t have thought of so my browsing paid off.
None of us like to think of the finality of death, but when death does come to a family, having details like a gravesite and marker already taken care of makes things so much easier for the survivors. Instead of being anguished by wondering if their loved one would have wanted to be buried in some other cemetery, or have something different written on their gravestone, the survivor is free from that particular stress.
If you haven’t already considered purchasing a gravesite for yourself and getting a marker for it, why not give some thought to it now?