Some people don’t like the idea of being cremated because they think that means they won’t have a headstone or monument for their loved ones to visit. This is definitely not true.
Even if you choose to have your cremains scattered around your favorite tree, you can still have a headstone or memorial at a cemetery. You can also choose to have your cremains buried in a cemetery plot with a monument placed nearby.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Main Types of Upright Cremation Monuments and headstones
- Main Types of Flat Cremation Monuments and Headstones
- Other Main Types of Cremation Monuments and Headstones
- Cremation Headstones: Frequently Asked Questions
Your headstone or memorial marker doesn’t even have to be at a cemetery. You could have a commemorative bench with your name on it placed at your favorite park.
Let’s walk through the different types of grave markers and cremation monuments. We’ll explain the different types as well as answer frequently asked questions about this unique industry.
Main Types of Upright Cremation Monuments and Headstones
At most cemeteries, you see two types of gravestones: upright and flat. Let’s discuss some examples of upright headstones or cremation monuments. While some are built specifically for someone who is cremated, others act as memorials whether the cremains are near the headstone or not.
Visit your local designer to look at headstone design ideas. You can also find ideas online — even on Pinterest.
1. Pedestal monuments for cremated remains
A pedestal monument is a granite block that has been cored out to hold an urn inside. On top of the granite block, you can find a statue or decorative top. The inside of a pedestal monument can be large enough to hold two urns.
2. Slant niche
You can find many types of upright memorials. A slant niche is another type of upright monument. Instead of being squared off at the top, a slant niche is an upright stone that slants on the top. They are hollowed out to hold an urn.
3. Cremation bench
A cremation bench can be placed at a cemetery, private residence, or (if special permission is given) a park. You may also check to see if a local scattering garden would allow you to place a cremation bench on those grounds.
Cremation benches can be made to hold the urn or urns of loved ones. Of course, you can also use this as a memorial if your loved one’s cremains were scattered.
4. Upright monuments
You can also purchase a standard upright monument for a loved one who was cremated. Some of these monuments can be hollowed out to hold cremains, even though they usually mark the site where the cremains are buried.
5. Double urn headstone
You may be able to find a headstone that sits on a base and holds an urn on each side. Some of these urns can be designed with a vase on top.
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6. Cremation rock
If you plan to keep your loved one’s cremains in a garden, you may consider having a more natural-looking piece to hold the ashes. Consider purchasing a cremation rock. These rocks look like natural rocks, but they are designed to hold cremains inside.
If you're looking for something smaller and more tangible, companies like Parting Stone create beautiful, handheld cremation stones to help someone grieving keep their loved one close by.
A columbarium is an above-ground structure that has small compartments with doors. These compartments, called niches, are designed to hold urns. While many cemeteries have columbarium niches in the wall of a mausoleum or a standalone garden columbarium, you can also have a small columbarium created for one family.
These individual columbariums can be created in any size to hold as many urns as necessary. This type of columbarium would look like a large, upright gravestone with several small doors. Each door could be marked with a plaque detailing whose cremains are inside.
8. Pagoda monument
Designed to look like a pagoda, these monuments hold columbarium niches. This is a similar structure to the columbarium listed above, but may be appropriate for Hindu or Buddhist faith.
A mausoleum is a large aboveground structure designed to hold non-cremated bodies. A mausoleum can also have columbarium niches to hold the urns of loved ones who chose to be cremated.
Main Types of Flat Cremation Monuments and Headstones
Many cemeteries only allow flat grave markers. Flat graves are easier for grounds crews to mow around and they aren’t as easily damaged as aboveground headstones.
Before you make any end-of-life decisions, make sure you understand which types of grave markers are allowed in your preferred cemetery. Also, learn about headstone etiquette before choosing any design that may be considered untraditional.
10. Flat monument
Flat headstones lie flat on the ground, of course.
Flat monuments may show the spot where a person’s cremains are buried or they may be a monument created to help others remember the person who died. Some monuments, flat or upright, may mention that the remains of the person are scattered elsewhere.
Some flat monuments have built-in vases, which can be used to place flowers or flags to decorate the graves.
Other Main Types of Cremation Monuments and Headstones
One of the benefits of cremation is that it allows you to have more options for monuments and headstones. After all, a body is typically buried in a cemetery with either a flat or aboveground headstone. Still, a cremated body can be scattered and the monument can be placed anywhere.
Here are some alternative ideas of what to do with your loved one’s cremains.
11. Garden planter urn
A garden planter urn has a small space built inside to hold the cremains of your loved one. The top is hollowed out so you can plant flowers or small trees inside it. The garden planter urn can have the details of the deceased engraved on the side.
This type of monument would be appropriate for someone’s backyard garden or a scattering garden at a local arboretum.
12. Teddy bear
Some families commemorate the life of a loved one by holding the cremains inside of a specially designed teddy bear. Although this is not necessarily a type of headstone, it acts as a permanent home for the cremains and can be personalized with the name and birth/death dates of the one who died.
Cremation Headstones: Frequently Asked Questions
Check out frequently asked questions below. To start, did you know that the above options can be made from a wide variety of materials? They can! You can find granite, fieldstone, marble, bronze, slate, or sandstone options.
Here are some other questions you may have.
Q: How much do cremation stones usually cost?
Cremation stones vary widely in price. The least expensive option is usually the flat stone and the mausoleum can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
An upright headstone typically costs between $2,000 and $3,000 but more elaborate pieces can cost up to $10,000.
Q: How do cremation headstones work?
Cremation headstones are typically designed to hold the cremated remains of an individual. Sometimes the headstones are designed so it is evident that there is an urn inside, while other times, the headstone design has a hidden niche for the urn.
Do not purchase an urn before you buy the cremation headstone. Some headstones will not hold a typical-sized urn inside. This is also true for columbarium niches.
Q: Where do you buy cremation headstones?
Most communities have a headstone designer. Consider asking friends and neighbors for recommendations nearby.
Of course, you can also ask the cemetery superintendent for recommendations. Be aware that some cemeteries sell headstones and they may pressure you to buy from them. While they can make a rule that only their staff sets the stone, you should be able to purchase the actual headstone from any business you like.
You can also purchase headstones online. Make sure you understand the shipping charges before making the purchase. Some online headstone sellers will help you make arrangements for setting the stone in your local cemetery.
Get the Right Cremation Monument or Headstone
As you can see, there’s a lot involved in planning a funeral and end-of-life options. Even if you choose to be cremated and have your cremains scattered at sea, you may want to have a memorial headstone somewhere nearby for your friends and family to visit. You may also like the idea of having a more permanent place for your cremains and would like to have your urn entombed inside your headstone.
Many local and national headstone designers will complete customized pieces, so you are only limited by your imagination and wallet. Look online for ideas and consider alternatives as well. You can also have your cremains turned into a diamond, a paperweight, a tattoo, or a vinyl album.
Regardless of your wishes, make sure you share your desires with your family. Allow your family members to share memories and grieve instead of being forced to make arrangements at funeral homes and cemeteries.