Today more than ever, people understand the importance of planning ahead by getting insurance policies, building up savings for a rainy day, developing a will and making arrangements for their estate. Advance planning for a memorial is no different. Even if you or your spouse has determined that cremation is what you want, you should still have a designated place for remembrance. Sometimes that’s a cemetery lot, other times it might just be a memorial garden on your property. But there should be something tangible to aid in your healing.
Why you should plan ahead:
Designing and purchasing a monument before it is needed offers you and your family many advantages. First and foremost, planning for a memorial ahead of time allows you to choose a headstone that best reflects your personal tastes. It can be a joint decision for you and your spouse. Just as you’ve lived your lives together so also can you plan “telling your story in stone” together. All too often we hear from sons and daughters who visit Kellogg Memorials and say, “I have no idea what mom/dad would have wanted,” or “I wish they had just taken care of this before like they had talked about.”
Purchasing a monument ahead of time spares your loved ones the burden of making those decisions at a time when they are grieving. Why place more stress on your family? Planning it now can prevent this from happening, and may also alleviate the tragic possibility of family disputes and delays by making clear to everyone what your wishes are.
Lastly, purchasing your memorial at today’s prices avoids inevitable future price increases and can be absorbed by your current income. That way, you’ll have the security of knowing that your estate, savings and insurance funds can all go toward their intended purpose: providing for those you love the most.
What’s the process involved in planning ahead?
You will need to know where your final resting place will be, whether that is a cemetery or memorial garden. Each cemetery has its own regulations about the size and type of headstone you will be allowed. Because we work with local cemeteries on a regular basis, Kellogg Memorials is well versed in what each cemetery requires and what their fees are. Just bring your lot information and/or directions with you when you come in for a visit.
We do take walk-ins, but advise making an appointment to be sure we can commit the time you deserve to planning your memorial. You’ll need to consider several factors (see Choosing a Memorial) in developing your own unique monument. Factors such as color, size, finish, grade, design and lettering will be discussed. Kellogg Memorials encourages you to shop around when selecting a headstone, but please keep in mind that you need to compare value, not just price. Chances are that you wouldn’t purchase the cheapest car or cheapest home, based solely on price. Compare “apples to apples,” as the saying goes. At each monument dealer you visit, pay careful attention to the following points:
- Quality of the Stone: Granite is the most durable choice for monuments. However, not all granites are the same. Be certain to ask questions about the grade of granite being offered to you. Does it stain easily? Is it likely to crack? Will the surface be free from blemishes and flaws? Many inexpensive imported tombstones are fabricated from granite that is inherently inferior, making it subject to discoloring, checking or cracking.
- Quality of the Workmanship: Stroll through the showrooms of the dealers from whom you are considering making a memorial purchase. Compare the luster of the polish between brands of memorials; compare the fineness of detail of flowers and lettering. Compare the depth of granite color and uniformity of the texture of the stone.
- Availability of Customization: Is the dealer able to offer you stock memorial designs only or can that dealer offer you the personalization that you and your loved ones deserve? Again, looking at the in-stock displays is a good way to develop a sense of what the monument dealer is capable of and accustomed to handling.
- Experience & Dependability: How long has the dealer been in business? Make inquiries among your friends, family and neighbors to determine how well respected the dealer is. Also ask cemetery personnel and local funeral directors, they know who has the best reputation for customer service because they work in the death care field.
- Customer Service: Is the dealer able to navigate the confusing waters of local cemetery regulations on your behalf? Does the dealer have the resources and relationships in place to design, fabricate and install (set) your monument? Can you readily get in touch with the dealer, either at their place of business or by phone? Is the dealer pushy, trying to force a sale? Or compassionate and willing to help you?
- Warranty: Does your dealer offer a comprehensive warranty against defects in material and workmanship? Is the dealer straightforward in answering all of your questions about quality and permanence of the memorial being purchased?
- Price: It’s a concern for all of us, as consumers. But how important is price to the value you’re getting? Is price alone the determining factor for your memorial? Is the dealer willing to work with you within the budget you’ve established?