Choosing a Type of Tombstone

One caveat: some cemeteries have restrictions on tombstones. Some restrict the size or the type or the material. If you’re looking to bury your loved one in a cemetery for those of a certain faith such as Christianity or Judaism, then there are probably stipulations on what you can engrave on the tombstone as well.

Dolan Funeral Homes in Chelmsford, MA, offers pre-arrangement planning of funerals, including helping plan which cemetery to choose and which tombstone to choose. Contact us today for more information!

After you’ve chosen which cemetery you’d like your loved one buried in and checked all of their rules and regulations, then you need to choose which type of tombstone (otherwise known as a headstone) you’d like.

  • Upright tombstones. The most traditional choice in tombstones, the upright tombstone is usually made from granite, marble, or limestone. Most of these are affixed to a base for supportive purposes.
  • Flat tombstones. Usually chiseled out of bronze or granite, these tombstones lie on the ground. Some are angled.
  • Kerbed tombstones. These are tombstones in combination with a ledger marker that usually outlines the coffin. These are great for personalizing your loved one’s gravesite.
  • Cremation memorials. These can be simple or elaborate and are usually the size of your typical urn for the person’s remains. Options include benches, memorials, or pedestals.


Presumably, you want your tombstone to last for a long time. Material choice is important as well as the weather your loved one’s stone will endure.

  • Granite. The most popular choice of tombstone material, granite is both durable and easily customizable in terms of engraving, color choices, and other aesthetic properties.
  • White Marble. Stunning in its beauty, white marble definitely stands out in a graveyard. However, marble is easily eroded by the rain and is prohibited by some cemeteries, especially churchyards.
  • Limestone. The most affordable choice in tombstones, limestone is not as durable as marble or granite.

Bronze. Increasing in popularity due to its minimal maintenance requirement, bronze naturally darkens over time but is very durable.


  • Do you want a glossy look or a soft look? Do you want it to look smooth or do you like the rough look?
    Many tombstone makers are utilizing technology to speed up the production of your personalized tombstone. Lasers are used to engrave and make life-like images.
  • Do you want a photograph on the tombstone? Or perhaps an engraving of a favorite place? Decide if you want a major image on the tombstone, which will narrow down the placement of the text.
    Color, contours, and dimensions. What color tombstone would you like? Do you want the tombstone to be rounded or pointed or have flat edges or be jagged? How big do you want the tombstone to be? What shape do you want it in?


The biggest challenge is how to capture a lifetime in a dozen or so words. You can utilize common phrases such as “in loving memory,” “forever in our hearts,” or “rest in peace.” Popular sayings and scripture are words to consider as well. Beautiful poems, memorializations of loved ones, and Bible passages are popular. Want to be original? Write your loved one’s epitaph. This is a great way to forever keep him or her in your heart.


The cost of a tombstone is difficult to put a finger on. With so many customizations available, the cost of your tombstone will depend on how elaborate or how simple it is. No doubt the cost of tombstones can be expensive. Most tombstone makers offer payment plans for your convenience.


Weather will definitely take a toll on the tombstone, and it will naturally fade over time. However, some simple things you can do to prolong the life of your loved one’s tombstone include applying sealant to it and repairing cracks immediately when they occur. There are special cleaning products made specifically for tombstone care that are available on the internet as well as green cleaners made with tombstones in mind. With a little care, your loved one’s tombstone will last for a long time (well beyond when you’re gone).


With Dolan Funeral Home, the little details matter. A tombstone can be overlooked or picked out in a rush and then regretted in the midst of your grief. If possible, tombstone planning should take place ahead of time. Dolan Funeral Home, serving the greater Lowell and Southern New Hampshire, including Chelmsford, N. Chelmsford, Tyngsboro, Westford, Dunstable, Dracut, Lowell, MA, and Hudson, NH, is here to help you pre-arrange your loved one’s funeral and your loved one’s affairs.

Choosing a tombstone may not be on your radar when a loved one dies. However, a tombstone will last for life, and you want to remember your loved one after death with a tombstone that is reflective of the person. Dolan Funeral Home is here for all of your funeral service needs, including memorial services, cremation services, burial services and transportation of the body services, and visitation services. At Dolan Funeral Home, a family-owned full-service funeral service company, we value you. Let us take care of the details, so you can care for yourself and your family during this trying time. Contact us today for all your funeral service needs!

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