Posts Tagged ‘dolan funeral home’

The History of Tombstones

After the passing of your loved one and the initial grief and emotions have subsided, now the “business” aspect of the death takes center stage. Death certificate, bank accounts, bills, debt, assets, will, trust, and the list goes on and on. And probably there’s something you forgot as well that will crop up down the road.


One of the first things you must do after the burial service of your loved one is decide on a tombstone. But how did this tradition begin?

Since the beginning of time, humans have an innate need to remember the deceased after the burial service. A tombstone, otherwise known as a gravestone, headstone, or markers, first appeared as rough stones, rocks, or wood laid on the deceased as a way to keep the dead from rising. Tombstones as we think of them were first thought to have been used in 3000 BC by the Romans and Celts. When few people could read or write, tombstones were simply marked: with the deceased person’s name, age, and birth date and/or year of death.

When important figures in a culture died, royalty or leaders for example, tombstones became larger and square-shaped and able to hold more writings. Simple plots on family farms evolved into churchyard burials and the haphazard rocks chosen for tombstones became made out of slate or sandstone, soft stones which are easy to carve.

As the population of the planet grew, bigger areas to hold the dead were needed, thus the advent of public cemeteries in the 1800s. People wanted to remember their loved ones well beyond death after the burial service, so the idea to turn tombstones into memorials was born. More and more information was added to the stone and the stones became bigger and more elaborate in nature. Symbols, designs, and artwork were added to personalize the tombstone with popular choices being religious symbols (crosses, saints, stars, and angels), occupational designs (sword, saw, ax, and horse), and nature symbols (trees, flowers, and mountains).

In the 1860s stronger materials were desired for tombstones as the soft stones broke easily, suffered erosion, and thus, the lettering gradually faded away, obscuring the person below. Igneous rock began to be used, and today granite, marble, and slate are popular choices.


Tombstones today continue to evolve. Bible sayings are popular as are quotes and sayings of hope and inspiration. Actual photographs adorn tombstones, memorializing the image of the deceased forever. Placing flowers, another tradition we can thank the Greeks for, is still popular today, and many tombstones have built-in flower pots.

Blooming flowers on the grave of a warrior was a sign he had found happiness in the afterlife in ancient times. The ancient Romans, borrowing from their Greek brethren, were the first to unilaterally lay flowers on graves after the burial services. Grief-stricken Americans chose flowers to represent their grief upon the shock of Abraham Lincoln’s death. And Memorial Day used to be called Decoration Day, which was a day Americans laid flowers on graves of soldiers.

Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford, MA, aims to make the funeral planning process efficient, simple, and worry-free. We are proud to offer up food options for the visitation and funeral and an amazing aftercare program to help you with the overwhelming tasks ahead. In part two of this series, Dolan Funeral Home will offer up tips for choosing tombstones. Contact us today!

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Funeral and Kids: How to Explain Death to Your Child

It’s a fact that kids’ brains have stages of learning. When you’re a baby on up through age ten or so, your brain is programmed for absorbing as much information as possible. In upper elementary school and throughout middle school, kids’ brains begin to be able to question ideas and form opinions for themselves. In high school, kids’ brains are finally able to argue and process information on par with adults.

Thus, when something complicated in life happens like the death of a loved one (especially if it’s a parent), kids can have a hard time processing death due to the fact they just don’t understand it like we do. And the fact of the matter is they won’t truly understand death until they are old enough.

Dealing with death is especially hard when kids are involved. Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford, MA, is a full service, family-run funeral home that has served the needs of the greater Boston communities since 1974. We offer cremation services, traditional burial services, celebration of life services, and pre-arrangement and aftercare services. We understand the impact the death of a loved one can have. Contact us today for the best funeral services in the greater Lowell area.


  • Be forthright. In this traumatic time, the last thing you want is your child to question what you are saying if you lie to him or her. The best way to explain death is openly and honestly. Tell your child what happened (in age-appropriate language especially if it was an accidental death with a lot of blood involved). Answer all of your child’s questions honestly. Try to convey the fact death is permanent — at least in a bodily form. If you practice a religion, explain your religious beliefs about death to your child, again, in age-appropriate language.
  • Don’t overwhelm your child. Too much information can only confuse your child. Answer your child’s questions simply. Don’t add too much detail unless prompted.
  • Don’t pressure your child. Children will process emotions differently. Some will internalize death and not want to talk about it. Others won’t stop asking questions. Allow your child to deal with the emotions of death in his or her own way. Don’t pepper him or her with questions. Respect where your child is right now.
  • Allow your child to attend the funeral. Your child will need to see your loved one at the funeral. For some, this is when it becomes real to them. Being able to see your loved one and touch him or her and say good-bye is crucial to healing.
  • Reassure your child at every turn. Tell your child he or she will be alright. That you are still there for him or her. That life will continue — just differently. Be specific about what will change. For instance, if grandma used to pick your child up from school, tell him or her who will be filling that role instead. It’s crucial your child is reassured that he or she will be okay.
  • Remember the person. One of the best ways to process death is to remember the good times you had with that person. When you feel your child is ready, review old photos and discuss the good times you had. Make a scrapbook dedicated to your loved one. Visit the gravesite if a traditional burial was chosen. Bring flowers. Celebrate the person and the impact her or she had.
  • Be prepared for a gamut of emotions to come and go (like they do with you). Let your child know it’s okay to cry, to be angry, and to not understand. These feelings are natural and are part of the grieving process. Be there for your child through these ups and downs.

These same tips apply to the death of pets as well. In fact, the death of a pet is the most likely occasion your child will first experience death. Expect the same emotional rollercoaster, even if it’s just a goldfish. In fact, the death of a pet can often be more meaningful and more impactful since the pet lived in your home 24/7 with your child as opposed to grandma who only visited.

Death is a part of life — albeit unpleasant — that we all have to deal with. Children, however, have a much different perspective than we adults do. Their worlds are so much smaller than ours and only entail sometimes a few people when they are little and then expanding to school. Still, the world for them is small. Death for them is unimaginable. And for older kids, hubris and the idea nothing can happen to them interfere with the concept.

Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford, MA, understands the hole that is left when a loved one dies. Our mission is to make the funeral planning process as smooth as possible, so you can grieve. We offer pre-planning or pre-arrangement services, which is planning your funeral in advance, in order to settle a lot of the details ahead of time. We have an amazing aftercare program, which offers guidance on the logistics of dealing with a loved one’s death. And of course we offer both traditional burial services as well as cremation services for the immediate needs death brings.

As the best funeral home in Chelmsford, MA, servicing greater Lowell and Southern New Hampshire, including Chelmsford, N. Chelmsford, Tyngsboro, Westford, Dunstable, Dracut, Lowell, MA, and Hudson, NH, Dolan Funeral Home cares for your loved one in death like you cared for your loved one in life. Contact us today!

Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford, MA, is a state-of-the-art funeral home. One of the largest funeral homes near Lowell, MA, Dolan Funeral home offers traditional funeral services, cremation services, embalming services, catered food and drink services, and aftercare support. We are dedicated to celebrating and honoring your loved one’s life from the moment they pass till the transportation to the cemetery for burial and after. Dolan Funeral Home caters to all funeral service needs.

That’s a lot Dolan Funeral Home offers. But funeral homes didn’t always exist, and it was a slow process to build up such a repertoire of services. In fact, it wasn’t until the 20th century that funeral homes as we know them today came into existence.

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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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