Originally published on July 14, 2018, this post has been updated for accuracy and relevancy.
Regardless of your relationship, losing a loved one is never easy. While support from friends and family can help to mitigate this sadness and distress, your memories of them are eternal. Of course, losing those we love is always perhaps the single most painful, exhausting, stressful and disorienting setback anyone can suffer. At St. Charles Monuments, we work tirelessly to make this just a little easier on you and your family.
Visiting your loved one’s headstone or memorial can be a great way to exorcise your grief in a healthy way. In addition, it’s a great way for you and other to pay your respects. In this post, we’ll explore some of the finer details and unspoken policies regarding grave visitation etiquette, and how to have a fulfilling, respectful and gratifying visit.
4 Important Times to Visit a Loved One’s Headstone
The time that you visit a grave site should depend on the nature of your relationship with the departed. For example, was there a specific day that was special within the parameters of your relationship? Perhaps there was an intimate joke or special significance regarding a holiday or birthday?
In this case, you might feel compelled to visit on any of these days. However, there are plenty of other days that can be equally as significant.
- Memorial or Veterans Day: If your loved one served in the military, then visiting on one of these days can be especially sentimental. In fact, there are several military-related headstone symbols to honor their sacrifice, as well. If they served, you can select from any military headstone when shopping for your monument.
- Christmas, Easter, or another religious holiday: If your deceased family member was orthodox in any way, then a religious holiday may be the best time to visit. You’ll also remember the joyous times you’ve spent together in the past. Many choose to place grave blankets on the site during these religious holidays – specifically Christmas.
- Wedding anniversary, birthday, or Valentine’s Day: These are all logical and fitting times to visit your loved one’s grave and headstone. A visit on one of these days will surely be a constructive way to reconnect with your loved one.
- Mother’s/Father’s Day: Losing a parent is difficult, but visiting their burial site on Mother or Father’s Day can help you cope with the loss.
In reality, deciding when to visit is a completely independent choice. However, be sure to consider any cemetery restrictions, which may be a factor that you consider when selecting a cemetery.
7 Things to do When Visiting a Loved One’s Headstone
1. Check the Condition of the Headstone
Over time, dirt, lichen, and other environmental factors can cause the headstone to become dirty. Weathering in general can lead the lettering to deteriorate, or worse, sink. While the cemetery staff is responsible for grounds maintenance, they are generally not responsible for taking note of poor conditions.
Therefore, during your visit, you should check its state and see if it’s in need of any repairs. If so, be sure to request a headstone cleaning. St. Charles Monuments can easily restore any granite headstone to its original beauty with our thorough, state-of-the-art cleaning techniques.
2. Read Scripture & Share Quotes
Reading scripture can be a spiritually enriching experience, especially in the company of a deceased loved one. Reading select passages that you feel capture the essence of your loved one will be rewarding.
In addition, there are several books on surviving loss you can read from if there are any passages that speak to you. This is especially true if you know of their preferences regarding scripture.
3. Visit with Family, or Other Loved Ones
Sometimes, people prefer to visit their loved ones’ headstones independently. Other times, though, it makes sense to visit as a support group.
When you visit with other family members or friends, you can enjoy spirited conversations about times that have passed. This can be extremely cathartic. Even if you do not feel like conversing, sharing that moment with loved ones will be helpful.
4. Bring Flowers
Decorating a loved one’s grave is an old tradition, and for good reason. There’s something about the sentimental value of bringing a living thing to the grave site that is restorative and refreshing. This practice is especially important for people who had strong ties to nature.
Most cemeteries ban artificial flowers, and some may dispose of plants that have died.
In a similar vein to leaving flowers on a grave, leaving stones on a grave is also a common mourning ritual. This is an especially common practice for Jewish people, with the primary reason that stones last longer than flowers. In fact, this tradition has its roots in ancient practices.
6. Place a Picture
Leaving a picture of the deceased next to the grave demonstrates your unwavering commitment to their memory. In a way, the picture captures the memory that you have of your loved one. A family picture — whether it is a vacation, holiday, or other circumstances, can help preserve these memories.
7. Leave a Flag
Many community organizations– such as veterans groups, boy scouts, and girl scouts– leave flags in front of headstones as a unique way to memorialize those they’ve lost. And, while this public service can help you and others to remember family members, you can also feel free to leave a flag. This is especially true if they served in the military, and you visit on a significant date.
Conclusion – St. Charles Monuments
At St. Charles Monuments, our goal is to create an enduring tribute that will stand the test of time, and honor the legacy of your loved one. Our expert headstone craftspeople will create a visually stunning and equally heartfelt monument.
Over time, they can also work to consistently restore its original beauty with state-of-the-art cleaning techniques. Contact us to begin preserving your loved one’s legacy with a headstone.