Modern Headstone Symbolism in Flight and Flowers

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Custom Upright Monuments - Long Island
St. Charles Monuments provides upright monuments and memorials for all cemeteries across Long Island and the greater New York area. Whether religious or sentimental, grave art has been popular for thousands of years, marking the gravesites of their deceased through art as a way to acknowledge their life and passing. When there is so much to say about a person’s life and your love for them, an image or a symbol can say it in a beautiful depiction. Some of the most common headstone symbols used today on cemetery monuments have been popular for decades, such as birds and flowers. But what exactly do they mean?



Birds in Flight

Birds in flight on cemetery monuments are symbolic of the “winged soul.” The headstone symbolism for birds comes from the ancient Egyptians, who used birds to represent the soul; while other cultures use only the wings in their grave art. The image of birds in flight is indicative of eternal life, and is often used when someone has lived a short life, such as when children pass away.

Cardinal: Passion for life

Rooster: Awakening to resurrection. Also: Vigilance

Dove: This is an important animal symbol in Christianity, representing the Holy Spirit. Taken from the bible passage in which the Holy Spirit was noted as descending from heaven onto a person being baptized. When 7 doves are pictured it represents the 7 spirits of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of grace: purity, devotion, and divine spirit gifted sevenfold.

Eagle: Symbol of St. John, symbolizes courage with affiliations to the military

Owl: Wisdom

Peacock: Immortality, symbolic of Christ and the Resurrection.

Pelican: Universally it is symbolic of charity. In Christianity it more specifically symbolizes the atonement and the Redeemer.

Phoenix: Greek symbol representing resurrection, the beauty of the soul, and immortality. This mythical creature was known to be reborn through its own death by fire, and has become a modern symbol of success through turmoil or in spite of hardship.

Swallow: Motherhood or indicative of a child





Flowers are often given as gifts, their meanings universally understood. You wouldn’t, for instance, arrive at a party and give your wife white lilies and your best friend red roses. Why? Because of the symbolism! While red roses mean romance, white lilies are often associated with death as they are a common funeral flower. In grave art flowers have symbolic meanings as well, but not exactly the same. In general, flowers on a headstone symbolize the frailty of life, and bouquets of flowers represent condolences and grief.

Asphodel: This is the classic flower of death said to cover the Elysian Fields.

Broken Blossom: Regardless of the flower that forms the blossom (a rose, lily, daisy, etc.) the broken blossom symbolizes when someone has died too young or that life has been cut short; our mortality.

Daises: The innocence of a child is depicted in a daisy, specifically in Christianity the innocence of the baby Jesus. It also means purity of thought and gentleness.

Forget-me-nots: Remembrance

Honeysuckle: Love, generosity, and devotion

Ivy: While not specifically a flower, it is a common symbol of nature to depict eternal life, memory, immortality, friendship, fidelity, faithfulness, and undying affection.

Lilly: Innocence, purity, and resurrection. In Christianity it is associated with the Virgin Mary and the Resurrection of Christ. It is commonly seen on women’s headstones and is often used at funerals as a symbol of the restored innocence of a soul at the time of death.

Roses: Love, beauty, hope, and endless love. In Christianity it is associated with the Virgin Mary. A white rose symbolizes purity and virginity while a red rose symbolizes martyrdom. The size of the rose can also indicate how old a person was when they died. If a rose bud is shown in the grave art it is likely the headstone of a child under 12. A rose in partial bloom signifies the life of a teenager or before their prime. A rose in full bloom symbolizes a person who died early in life, in their prime: 20s-30s.

Sunflower: A life that has been fulfilled.

Custom Upright Monuments - Long Island



Custom Headstones on Long Island


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At St. Charles Monuments we can help you create a custom headstone on Long Island that depicts the most prominent attributes of your loved one. Whether you decide to memorialize them with a photograph or a chosen symbol, we can create something beautiful. Our expert artists can etch any design on the headstone of your choice and work with you to decide on the best memorial for your loved one. Contact us today or check out our Monument Buying Guide.


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 for all Cemeteries in NY & NJ
 for all Cemeteries in NY & NJ
 for all Cemeteries in NY & NJ
 for all Cemeteries in NY & NJ