Funerals and Gravestones

Sorry to bump some old stuff, but …

My father was still bitter decades later about the funeral director who tried to guilt him and his sister into buying an expensive casket. He was distraught about his father’s suicide, and I’ve his father’s wishes were for a plain pine casket, and the funeral director tried to convince them that they must not have loved their father.

My uncle (father’s sister’s husband) reamed that funeral director, and my dad remained grateful until the day he died.

Err. I’m not very superstitious, but that seems completely inappropriate. Couldn’t you have just left space on the stone to be filled in later with the name and the date is death?

There are no health issues with cremains, so it’s legal anywhere you have the permission of the land owner. And while it’s illegal on most public land and coastal waters, you can generally get away with it if you are discrete, and it’s not an especially prominent bit of land. I’ve heard there are issues with “the pitcher’s mound in such and so field” and of course at Disney. But if your relative wants their ashes scattered “in the smokey mountains” the odds are good their survivors can swing that.


No, that’s not how they do it. They put both names and DOBs and the date of death of the first person on the tombstone in the factory (or wherever they make them). They only put the second date of death on the tombstone after it’s at the site. Apparently it’s considerably more difficult to do it when it’s in the ground, so they do the minimum possible then.

And walking around, there were tons of tombstones with two names and only one date of death.

For that matter, I visited JFK’s grave after JFK died but before Jackie died. Her name & DOB was on the marker. If they won’t come out and put Jacqueline Kennedy’s name/DOB on a marker after she dies, I don’t think my mother stood much of a chance. :woman_shrugging:

1 Like

Yeah, one of the first times I was at a cemetery I noticed lots of headstones with only one person’s date of death filled in. Creeped me out (I was a kid) when I realized the other person was still alive. Even creepier when they had their portraits etched into the stone, for some reason.

I would not want that for myself, but I also don’t want any kind of grave marker when I’m gone, either.

1 Like

Yeah, I sort of get it, but again, that’s what they do. If you want to share a tombstone with your SO, that will happen.

The ultimate solution was to buy two cremains plots so we can have two tombstones.

Also not really what she wants, but she decided she could live with that.

I guess i don’t want to share a tombstone, then. That’s just super creepy.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen that done. Not that i spend a huge amount of time looking at tombstones, i guess.

It’s pretty common around here. Maybe a regional thing??

May be regional. May also vary by the denomination that runs the cemetery. I’ve spent a lot more time in Jewish graveyards than other graveyards. Oh, and old graveyards, but they don’t have a lot of graves of people who died recently enough to have a living spouse.

I was at a Jewish cemetery for a funeral about a month ago, saw quite a few Husband/Wife shared head stones.

Didn’t seem weird or creepy to me but I could see how someone might be weirded out by it.

I don’t know how common they are from place to place and religion to religion but I know it’s not the first time I’ve seen them. Maybe not super common but does seem to happen.

Checking google…

This site suggests it’s normal to add the name when the person dies, but hey, you can be thrifty, and do it sooner, if those involved don’t find it too unnerving:

Can you add another name to a headstone if a person has yet to pass away?

In simple terms, yes the engraving company should be more than happy to put anything you might want on the stone. The engraving company can have the spouse’s name added to the headstone in their shop, for example, if a customer wants. This can be a morbid but quite thrifty way for a couple to plan ahead if they have already decided to be buried together.

Given that this might be a little unnerving for the person who is still alive, it is also an option to have the engraving done later when the person actually dies. The company will send somebody out to carve the new name on the stone when the time comes, on-site at a higher cost, but it might save some grief.

Here’s a company that specializes in adding stuff to gravestones, including “meaningful quotes”

I found a few others. Some suggest it’s cost effective to add the second name before they die, others assume the norm is to add names of newly deceased people.

I’m not surprised it is a lot cheaper to just add a date, but I am surprised that it was impossible to arrange to have a name and date added later.

It’s not the shared headstone that I think is creepy, or unusual. It’s carving the name of the living spouse onto the stone when the first one dies.

I could see that being strange. I could also see it as an endearing commitment for eternity. I guess it depends a bit on your views of the afterlife.

'til death do us part

Jews rarely talk about an afterlife, in my experience.
That doesn’t mean you can’t remember a married couple together at the cemetery. After all, they were together during life.

I wonder how often someone who has already purchased a shared grave with her husband remarries after his death, and how they handle that. :wink:

“ carving the name of the living spouse onto the stone when the first one dies.”

That’s quite common here.

What’s also common around here is that tombstones are status symbols. So it’s common for a prominent family in a small town to have a whole family plot with a big fancy family monument and then smaller headstones for each person. It seems to matter a lot to some where they are laid to rest so seeing their names already “in stone” seems to bring some comfort. :woman_shrugging:

My dad’s family in his home town was fairly prominent. So we have a setup like that. This big obelisk thing. My brother and his wife have their headstones marked and placed. I was asked if I wanted one of the remaining spots. No thanks.

Also it was quite common in my dad’s family for older generations of siblings to squabble. So some made a specific point to NOT be placed near certain others. :joy:

It’s all comical to me.

I’ve seen a lot of those. I assumed they added the little individual stones as people died, though. Maybe I should do some graveyard research. Now I’m curious.

My dad was cremated. So was my MIL. My mother will be, too. That’s my husband’s preference, as well. So I’m not expecting to have to buy a gravestone.

(Cremation isn’t common among Jews. But it’s very practical.)

The tombstones are from the Department of Defense. I gotta think they have the same policy everywhere.

See my response to Serena. It’s the DOD that provides the tombstones (presumably ordered from a third party, but who knows… possibly they do it in house???)

The cemetery folks have a one tombstone per plot rule, but I’m quite sure that they don’t care how or when the writing gets onto the tombstones.

This is a big thing in my in-laws family because they were all funeral directors. My wife’s 95 year old grandmother will still spit on the grave of some cousin who set up a competing funeral home :laughing:


Huh, well it seems to be impossible if getting the free tombstone from the DOD.

We definitely asked if we could pay extra and the answer was an unequivocal “NO!”

All tombstones are from the DOD?

I think Lucy and I were speaking in generality. Idk what you’re referring to. :woman_shrugging:

My mom was only 65 when my stepdad died and in her 70s she started dating this other guy. He’s a widower but his wife’s cremains are in an urn in his house. My mom (who now wears a wedding ring but there’s been no legal wedding) literally wants him to buy the cemetery plots next to hers. So from left-to-right it would be:

  1. Stepdad
  2. Mom
  3. Boyfriend
  4. Boyfriend’s wife

Now that, I think, is weird. :woman_shrugging:

My grandma was about the same age when she became a widow and remarried over a decade later. But she had donated her body to the local medical school to be one of the cadavers the students cut up in their gross human anatomy class, so there was no question of what to do with her body. Her kids added a stone to my grandfather’s plot with her name on it, despite the fact that she’s not buried there.

It looks very out of place and I’m quite surprised the cemetery allows it. It would’ve been better to just replace the stone with a whole new one with both names on it. Especially since my grandpa’s name & dates were barely legible by the time my grandma died.