Creative Ideas for Decorating Headstones

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When a person is buried in a cemetery, the family will often visit the gravesite to pay tribute to the person who died. In some ways, this final resting place becomes a new home for their loved one, and many people decorate headstones and gravesites to make the place feel as special as possible. In addition, decorating the grave can help make being at the cemetery a bit less painful, and can be a way to cope with grief. If you want to do something special at the gravesite of someone you love, here are a few ideas for how to decorate a headstone.

Many cemeteries have very strict rules about how headstones and gravesites can be decorated, so it’s a good idea to check with the cemetery about their rules before you decorate the grave.

Small stones

Placing small stones on a headstone is traditional for those of the Jewish faith, and dates back to the times when people were buried in the desert. This tradition has spread beyond Judaism, though, and it’s now common to see small stones on the graves of people of all faiths.

Flags

On holidays (such as Veterans’ Day and Memorial Day) you’ll often see small American flags placed by the headstones of veterans. But flags can be placed on anyone’s grave, and at any time of the year.

Seasonal decorations

Why not place a pumpkin next to the grave around Halloween? During the Christmas season you could put a wreath, poinsettia plant, or even ornaments near the headstone. Or on Valentine’s Day you could leave a bunch of roses and a card (though you might not want to leave any chocolates).

Solar lights

Many companies have created solar lights that can be attached to the headstone to illuminate the grave at night. These lights come in a variety of shapes, from a candle to a cross to spotlights that light up the entire grave. (Industrial designer Lauren Von Dehsen created a prototype "Grave Lights," pictured above.) Grave and Garden, Memorials.com, and Thompson Monuments all offer solar grave lights.

Flowers

While flowers are a common decoration, you shouldn’t feel confined to a bunch of traditional carnations. Feel free to bring an arrangement of your (or the deceased’s) favorite flowers, colors, or scents. Many flat grave markers have vases built in, where you can place the flowers, of you can put them on top of the headstone or on top of the grave. Some cemeteries even allow you to place a small plant in the area.

Blankets

If the cemetery is in a part of the country that gets cold in the winter, some people find comfort in placing a “blanket” on top of the grave to protect from the snow. This blanket could be an actual blanket, or can be made from Styrofoam covered in Evergreen branches. If you’re interested in “blanketing” the grave, be sure to get the measurements of the space so that your blanket will be the right size.

Toys and stuffed animals

Visiting the grave of a child can be particularly painful. Placing a toy or a stuffed animal at the headstone can be a real comfort. 

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