What to Put on a Grave Marker

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Dealing with the death of a loved one is no easy task. First there's the grief, then the stress of arranging a funeral and deciding how your loved one will be interred. If you've chosen to bury your loved one, you also have to consider what information to put on the grave marker. To make this decision, consider your budget, the person's religion, and his or her general style.

1 Standard Information

The standard practice is to put a person's full name at the top of the grave marker. The person's dates of birth and death go underneath the name. You may include the exact date or just the years. When there is room on the marker, it's customary to inscribe some type of epithet. That might be a poem or quote the deceased person enjoyed, or it an indication of who the person was, such as "Beloved Father."

2 Religious Considerations

A person's religion may dictate what goes on the grave marker. In the Jewish faith, a person's English and Hebrew names go on the marker, as well as her relationships to others, such as "Mother of Sara." In the Muslim faith, markers are not commonly used. When they are, they must be simple and small, which leaves little room for epithets or extensive information. If the deceased person was of a certain faith, check with that person's spiritual adviser about the proper information for the grave marker.

3 Cemetery Restrictions

What you choose to put on the marker may depend on the amount of space available on the marker. That, in turn, may be dictated by the cemetery where the marker will be placed. Before you decide on any type or size of marker, check with the cemetery to find out whether there are any restrictions. Cemetery officials have been known to turn away markers that didn't fit guidelines, according to the U.S. Funerals website. At some cemeteries, you may be required to install a standard, rectangular headstone, while at others you may be able to install a simple marker that rests on the grass; a large, sculpture-type marker; or anything in between.

4 What the Budget Allows

Your overall budget is a factor when deciding what to include on the headstone. If your budget is several hundred dollars, you may only be able to afford space for the person's name and the dates of birth and death. If your budget ranges in the thousands -- or even tens of thousands -- you have nearly unlimited options. Not only will you be able to include a short poem, quote or phrase, but you may also be able to have the person's photo engraved on the stone. You may also add intricate carvings of flowers, trees or even the person's beloved pet. In general though, choose decorations and information that characterize the deceased person, so that all who visit the grave will have a meaningful marker to enjoy.

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.