It's a dreary subject that few people want to broach, but sooner or later, everyone needs to make funeral plans. There is healing in the planning of a funeral, and you may just find some bittersweet joy in the selection of a headstone, whether for yourself or a loved one. Here you will learn about headstones, and how to design one that will keep people talking about you long after you're 6 feet under.

Headstone Materials

The first consideration you should take when choosing a head stone is what types are allowed in the cemetery. Most cemeteries regulate the size, shape and type of monument. Once you have determined what types are allowed in the chosen cemetery plot location, you can begin the process of selecting a material.

  • Marble has been popular for centuries, because of it's dignified luster and beautiful, creamy texture. It is also vulnerable to acid rain, and will corrode over time.
  • Limestone was also commonly used for grave markers, but has fallen out of favor because of its vulnerability to the elements.
  • Sandstone, like limestone, is a sedimentary rock. It is soft and easy to carve, but erodes more quickly than other monument options.
  • Granite is the material of choice for those who want stone monuments. Granite is durable, comes in various colors, and will remain legible for centuries after it is carved.
  • Bronze is also a common material found in grave markers, because it is not as susceptible to rust and corrosion as other metals.

There are a lot of other materials that have marked graves in years past, but today, these are the best options. In short, if you want a memorable headstone, pick out something in granite or bronze. Other materials are beautiful, but don't last as long.

Headstone Shapes

After you've decided on a material, the next step is choosing a shape. If you're looking for a stand-out option, going with a lawn level head stone is out of the question. Instead, consider:

  • Gothic shapes.
  • A ledger marker, which covers the entire grave.
  • An obelisk, which is the tallest option, and definitely will catch the eye of passersby.

The Epitaph

The most important feature of a memorable headstone is the epitaph. For memorability, you have only two choices: profound or funny.

Which option you choose will depend on the deceased. If they were the type of person who wanted to make people laugh, even in their darkest moments, use these for inspiration.

  • One extremely entertaining epitaph reads "Here lies Johnny Yeast. Pardon me for not rising." 
  • A play on words involving the deceased's profession is often comical. One lawyer's grave is marked by the words "The defense rests."
  • An epitaph relating to the deceased's accomplishments can be funny. Ludolph van Ceulen was a Dutch mathematician who had inscribed upon his headstone the first 35 digits of pi, which he himself discovered.

More profound and intimate epitaphs are also quite memorable. If the deceased was someone who possessed wisdom beyond their years, or was known for magnanimous speeches, consider something like:

  • Bette Davis, who struggled for years to be recognized as a talented actress, has a headstone that reads "She did it the hard way", provoking a solemn nod from those who knew her.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s headstone is carved with his immortal words "Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, I'm free at last." 
  • Virginia Woolf's epitaph reads "Against you I will fling myself, unvanquished and unyielding, O Death!"

Having a memorable tombstone is one way to comfort family, continue entertaining people, and send a valuable message, even after death. Consider your options at places like Elmwood Cemetery Memorials, and make the plans that best memorialize your loved one.