Gravestones have been used over centuries to mark the place where the dead has been laid to rest. Today, they are also used to engrave a memory of the loved ones for those of us left behind. We lay the stone with our loved ones name, years lived, and a symbol of the love they have shown the world. However, gravestones were not always used to serve as a memory to those who lay beneath.
Graves were originally topped with stone in order to stop wild animals from digging up the grave. There were no markings on the stone; its sole purpose was to keep the body buried. Over the years the stone toppings became a topic for superstition. People believed that if they did not place stones on top of the grave the dead would rise again. Over time that fear faded and people began to label the stones so they could trace their loved ones. The idea of tracing family history through the gravestones changed the gravestones to memorial markers. People would bury their dead in their yards and label the sites with grave markers most often made out of wood.
Eventually the Christian church community realized that memorial markers were becoming a popular tradition. Gravestones and churchyard burials became a common practice. The grave sites of wood turned to sandstone or slate.
In the nineteenth century when church yards had begun to reach their full capacity they sought alternate places to bury their dead, so the idea of graveyards was born. During this time gravestones became more elaborate. Size and detail often indicated a family’s wealth. So were symbols of angels, symbolic markings, and messages that were engraved into the headstones.
Because of decay, headstones are now made of granite and polished marble. Gravestones have come full circle over the years. A more simple design has come back and the headstones are less elaborate than they used to be. Communities have also gone back to the idea of laying the headstone flat on the ground over the body.
Headstones continue to add to the memory of lost loved ones. Many people find comfort in polishing them and adding flowers to the gravestones. In some instances people choose to have memorial benches, incense holders, or other personalized reminders. In today’s fast-paced electronic world, there are many new options, like the Memory Link, that captures a loved one’s memories through pictures, videos and written life stories.
At Santa Rosa Memorial Park we know how important it is to remember a loved one your way. That’s why we offer a wide range of memorialization options, including the popular Memory Link. Give us a call to find out more.