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Caring For Your Headstone

Tips For Keeping Your Family Memories Alive In A Cemetery For Years

Tragic though they are by nature, headstones can be a thing of beauty. They are also a thing of importance to the family and friends of the individual the memorial honors. So caring for your headstone is an important consideration. A beautiful headstone made of marble, granite, or bronze creates a place to visit, to find comfort, and to pay tribute to a life full of precious memories. Surely then we owe it to our loved ones to ensure that they forever stay that way.

Caring for a headstone is not a difficult as one would imagineThe first step to caring for your headstone is simply choosing a durable material that is likely to survive against the elements, which, it is well to remember, will sometimes come at it fiercely. A durable memorial will preserve a loved one's legacy for years, if not generations. Even still, it would not be wise to assume that strong rock alone is all that is necessary when it comes to caring for your headstones. What makes these tributes special is the incorporation of designs and lettering, which come together to capture the essence of the loved one's personality. To help extend the longevity of the total memorial, you must also make sure that it is kept clean as well. Luckily, most headstone memorials (especially new ones) are very low maintenance.

If your loved one has a marble or granite headstone, caring for your headstone means occasionally going by the cemetery to remove dirt or debris. This can usually be done using a soft-bristle brush or a soft cloth (do not use metal brushes as they are too abrasive and may scratch the surface of the memorial). For stones that may have dried mud or other debris caught in the carvings, a firm toothbrush and water should be sufficient. If the departed has a bronze headstone, you should make sure that your salesman sells you one that has the right percentage of metals (or bronze content) to provide a lasting finish. Most bronze headstones feature a special clear coating, to preserve the color and polished finishes  of the marker. That allows most bronze memorials to be cleaned in the same mannor described for the granite markers. While it is true that bronze will last for many years, the color of the metal is subject to change, as it will gain a natural patina, which is a desired trait of bronze. However, for families who would like to restore the original luster of their bronze grave marker, there are also special, and fairly inexpensive headstone cleaning kits available, which strip the marker surface so it can be refinished. It is not recommended to use any cleaners that contain acid or solvents or harsh chemicals to clean the memorial, because over time they could eventually damage the stone irreparably.

In either case, it is well to remember that your loved one’s life well lived deserves better than a headstone covered with dirt, mildew, rust, white rings, or acid trapped in the stone. Caring for your headstone means making sure these things never happen, and when they do to fix the problem soon. For that matter, if you have not recently been to your loved one’s grave, perhaps it is time to go by there, to make sure that the elements have not had their way with your loved one’s headstone.

Most headstones can last for many, many years, without very little maintenanceRecently, a whole cottage industry has grown around caring for and restoring old headstones, sometimes of those whose relatives have all passed on as well. Whole teams of people are working hard to restore headstones from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Caring for these headstones is proving to be more challenging than modern headstones, since many of them were made with weaker stones. For example, slate and sandstone were both extremely popular from the 1650s through the early part of the 20th century, but have proved very difficult to care for. Not only can the words tend to blur together, they also have an annoying tendency to fade into the stone. Nonetheless, hundreds of these headstones have been recovered to something like their original appearance.

This makes a certain degree of sense, since caring for those headstones could be one of the only connections still available to that person’s history. Perhaps historians will want to know when that person lived or died for their research. Caring for your headstone can be one of the best things you do for those who did so much for you.

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