I was having a hard time with the headstones I need to purchase. I’ve placed such a mental importance on these markers that I couldn’t place an order. Nothing was right.
Do I have laser engraved pictures? A fun saying? A dumb poem about lights and birds? Lynard Skynard lyrics? Those options are endless. Add in stone color, size, height and the options are overwhelming.
I can not deal with these decisions. What can I put on a stupid rock that will sum up the incredible lives that were cut so short? It’s too much. I am not equipped to make this decision.
Plus (PLUS!) there is the matter of cost. As it turns out, there isn’t a bulk discount on headstones. No BOGO or coupon codes. When I called the monuments companies in my area, the best I could do was have the transport and placement fees removed if I did the heavy lifting myself.
My brother suggested ETSY.
I found the perfect situation – and the perfect company. A small outfit in New York state run by a husband and wife. They lost their infant daughter in 2000 and then their 21-year-old son shortly after Z passed away last year. After their second loss, they started an economical marker company. $45 plus $14 shipping (USPS: if it fits, it ships) and you get a small headstone with just the name of the decedent and the appropriate starting and ending dates. Nothing else. There is no choice in size, color, material, or flourish.
They did this because a tragically large number of families can’t come up with $2,000+ for a modest headstone from a monument company. That’s a lot of money. This is the reason so many families can’t mark the grave sites of their children.
In the company description they noted that for every marker they sell, they put $5 toward their donation fund. They will find the unmarked graves of kids and install headstones for free.
I’m a sucker for a low-cost good deed. I purchased a stone for Z, a stone for Joe, and then paid for a third stone and asked them to donate it.
That was last night.
This morning, I got an email back from their owner. She had the details for a month-old infant in Pennsylvania that had suddenly died. The economical marker company called the funeral home. They reported there was no funeral or burial because the family couldn’t afford it. She told the funeral home she had a marker to donate. A few hours later, the funeral home called back. The family really wanted a marker.
This entire transaction – from my surprise donation, to the identification and offer of a free headstone – took place in less than 12 hours. She passed along the name of the baby to me.
Today I’ve got all these children on my heart. Mine, the two that belong to the family that makes the markers, and the baby in Pennsylvania that never got a funeral.
It’s a lot to soak in, but I am happy I happened to make the decision yesterday to buy the headstones. Maybe I’ll chalk this up to kismet.
Buying headstones is a terrible chore. 0 stars. Would not recommend.
If you’d like to buy and donate a headstone, do it here.