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Considerations for Selecting the Right Burial Monument

Published: September 15, 2021

Tombstone, grave marker, headstone, gravestone, burial monument—these are all names to describe the tribute or memorial placed where a person is, or plans to be, laid to rest.  If you were to select your headstone today, what might guide your decision-making? Looks?  A combination of looks and affordability?  Here are some helpful considerations for selecting a headstone that’s right for you:

What are the rules of your cemetery?

Each cemetery’s regulations vary.  Some permit only flat, grass level monuments. Others may have size restrictions or only allow headstones made of granite.  You may not be set on one cemetery in particular, and if that’s the case, your final choice may be the cemetery which allows you the most freedom in selecting your headstone.

How much do you wish to spend?

Headstone costs vary, ranging in price from a few hundred to thousands of dollars. As a general rule, a flat headstone will be at the lower end of cost, whereas an upright headstone at the higher end.

Other factors besides size influence price.  The cost of granite, for example, varies based on color.  Font and engraving styles, choice of finishes, as well as artwork or details such as photos, can add up.  Also, you can expect there to be an installation fee.  If your headstone needs a concrete foundation, this would be an additional cost.

What overall look suits you?

From a simple flat grave marker, to a memorial bench, to an obelisk—headstones come in an impressive variety.  What impresses one person, another may find distasteful.

Headstone Type 

The most popular headstone types are: flat, bevel, slant, and upright.   We recommend searching the internet to get familiar with the various types to see which type best suits you.


Generally, the standard size of a headstone is based on the type of grave plot. For example, a headstone for a single grave will have different measurements than a companion headstone intended for a side by side grave (also known as a double grave).  Within a specific type of headstone there are size ranges to choose from.


Granite and bronze are the most popular choices for headstones.  Granite is affordable and long lasting.  It comes in red, black, gray, pink, and blue color variations, as well as an assortment of patterns and textures. Prices vary depending on the color, with blue granite typically falling on the higher end of cost.

When bronze is used for a headstone, it is usually in the form of a plaque attached to either a granite or concrete base. Bronze is long-lasting, attractive, and affordable. Over time, bronze develops a green patina, but with some polishing, the patina can be removed.

Headstone options are not limited to granite and bronze, there are quite a few others. Marble, for example, is one.  This beautiful and smooth stone tends to weather faster than granite, and is also more expensive.  But for some, the aesthetic nature of marble overshadows the concern of enhanced weathering.


Most headstones are a combination of finishes.   For example, the edges of a granite headstone may be rough and rugged with the face a combination of polished and part-polished.  There are other specialty finishes, but for simplicity’s sake we won’t go into further detail.


Envisioning the design of a headstone may be the most challenging step, but also the most meaningful.  At minimum, a headstone is typically inscribed with the departed’s name and date of birth and death. 

Many people wish to also include some type of artwork, symbolism or photograph; loving words of inscription such as “Caring Mother” and “Beloved Father;” and sometimes an epitaph, poetry, or religious verse.

The space available to work with depends on the size of the headstone.  And depending on the type of headstone selected, there may be free space on the backside as well.

Consider taking a walk through the cemetery for inspiration

An excellent way to learn more about what appeals to you is to walk through a cemetery and take note of the aspects you find most pleasing.  Seeing real-life examples, in-person, may prove helpful in building your own lasting tribute.

One last important consideration

It’s possible to purchase your headstone in advance, or at the very least, keep a written record of your preferences.  Selecting a burial monument is just one step in the pre-planning process. 

Pre-planning is free and the idea behind it is to have your end of life wishes known prior to your passing.  It is a selfless act of caring and love, freeing your loved ones from having to wonder about what decisions you would have made.

We are happy to offer helpful advice and guidance on any pre-planning questions you may have.  You can contact us, Raynor & D’ Andrea Funeral Home, at our West Sayville location at (631) 589-2345 or our Bayport location at (631) 472-0122.

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