During my years of researching topics that deal with death and loss I interviewed many people who had involvement with purchasing a headstone or grave marker. I asked for their thoughts on this experience. The people I spoke with had applicable experiences prior to a death, after a death or during the dying process. Some people bought their own headstone while others chose for someone after the death.
Comments such as the following were shared when dealing with a grave marker decision;
- “I felt pressured by family to do something when I actually was not prepared emotionally to deal with this issue so soon after the death.”
- “I was surprised by the amount of choice when wanting to personalize the marker with a theme such as gardening, hockey, fishing, spiritual etc.”
- “Since everything was in place years ago, all I had to do was make a call to have the date of death put on the marker.”
- “I wish we could have bought it together instead of waiting for one of us to die.”
- “It took 4 visits to finally be able to decide what to choose; the family jointly decided on what they liked.”
- “I don’t want my name on a tombstone before I die.”
- “Your decisions are carved in stone, take your time deciding.”
- “Do I like it now; will I like it later?” was the question one person said to themselves.
- “They wanted family members identified on the stone.”
A few words used to describe their experiences included; healing, pleased, contented, painful, felt it was the end, unsure of self, not a nice experience, sad, heartbreaking, difficult, confusing, painful and overwhelmed.
When asked, “What you would have done differently?” I heard;
- “In hindsight, I would have made a different choice if I had waited.”
- “Made sure each person (family member) got one of their ideas on the stone.”
- “Waited longer”
- “I would have had someone come with me to make the purchase.”
- “I would have put the maiden’s name to allow for ancestral searching.”
- “I wouldn’t have done it at all.”
I provide this information to help you better understand the process
for yourself or to be supportive of others.
Thank you to the individuals who shared their stories with me.
All my best,
Barbara Gillett Saunders