When clients walk into Lasting Touch Memorials, some of them know exactly what they want and some don’t. For the latter, owner Tony Ward has a series of questions to help narrow down options and make decisions easy.
The first question has to do with location: which cemetery are they using and will their loved one be in the upright section or the flat section? “I know the requirements of most cemeteries within 60 miles. If they tell me they’re in the upright section or a flat-only section then I know what direction to go,” says Ward.
The difference is exactly what it sounds like. In a flat section, the marker lies directly over the grave, flat on the ground, while an upright stands vertically above it. “The options determine the size of the marker that can fit on the grave itself,” says Ward. Although flat stones are allowed in upright sections, upright stones are not allowed in designated flat sections.
His second question is about matching. Is there a grave of any other relative or loved one in the cemetery whose design or color the client would like to match? “If the answer is yes, you want to match the lettering, fonts and color as well as the size,” he says. “If Uncle Fred had a 40-inch tall headstone, you don’t want to go any taller than that.” If the answer is no, the family has more options.
Third, Ward will ask about the color and thickness of the granite for the headstone. “That’s a personal choice, unless you’re trying to match another stone,” he says. “Most granite comes six inches thick, but there’s also eight-inch options available.” He recommends stones that are polished on all five sides due to the combination of tree sap and bird droppings that can accumulate over time. Polished stone is relatively easy to clean.
Once the color and thickness are established, he’ll check to see whether the stone will be a standalone or a companion marker, meaning another name or names will be added in the future. Ward adds the companion’s name, hobbies, and passions at the time, although that person may live for another 20 years. “When the time comes, we only add the final date,” he says. “It’s called a second inscription.”
Finally, of course, there’s the budget. Most of the people who visit Ward have already planned to make a purchase so it’s simply a question of what they can afford. “Generally people don’t get sticker shock,” he says. “We don’t cost as much as caskets or memorial services and we’re a lot less than cemetery plots. I find out what budget they’re considering.”
Confirming the decision is satisfying, he says, because it helps people to finalize what’s happening in their lives. “They came in for a reason. A memorial headstone is usually the final step and I help them move through that process. Families really appreciate that closure.”
For more information about Lasting Touch Memorials, visit www.lastingtouchmemorials.com or call (360)458-9070.