There are many decisions that have to be made right after the passing of your spouse. Are you going to have a funeral or a memorial service? Will there be a casket or are you going to cremate? Do you have a burial plot or will you have an urn?
For Jeni, the answer was a funeral with a burial. For Teresa, the answer was a memorial service with cremation and urn.
Once the decision of cremation or burial is answered, then comes other decisions. Casket, urn, services, announcements all must be decided at a time when you are most vulnerable. Other decisions associated, like the headstone, can be decided later but still must be addressed.
When the time came for me to decide on the headstone, I asked my children if they wanted input on what would be on their dad’s stone. My youngest, Michelle, wanted to help. Together, we decided on what images and verbiage should represent their father’s life in this way.
On the front, we put the usual stuff. Name, birth date, death date and that he was a loving husband, father and son. We added other images to represent items important to him, a cross with praying hands for his faith were primary to all of us.Then, we added a deer and fish to represent his hobbies of hunting and fishing. Finally, the kids all agreed...there had to be a loon as Bob had used the loon to represent them. He had said that he and I had to be loony to adopt three kids all at once...so the loon was added to represent them.
On the back of the stone, it was decided that there would be a representation of the two of us. Hence, our wedding verse of “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15) was added along with an engraved picture of the blown glass cake topper that was at our wedding. This topper had two hearts placed above the wedding bells with a cross through the center to represent us coming together with Christ in the center of our marriage. At the top were two doves of peace to bring peace into our marriage.
At this point, I thought the planning for the headstone was complete. However, Michelle had one more thing to add. Below the wedding verse, she wanted the words “For Eternal Life” added.
To our children, these words were the words that their father used every night to tell them that he would love them forever. At first, when he put them to bed, he would say good night and that he loved them. As we took the kids to church, the girls asked him how long and it came to be “For Eternal Life” to indicate that he would love them even when we entered the Kingdom of Heaven. So…”For Eternal Life” was added to the headstone.
Finally, we added a vase to the side of the headstone. Bob had always brought me peach roses to represent our love with one blue carnation to represent the times we were apart. That vase, on the side, was added so that there could be peach roses and a blue carnation from time to time.
The design process was completed and the stone was ordered.
While the front of the headstone contains the details (his name and pertinent dates), it is the back of the headstone that brings me comfort when I visit the cemetery. It is there that I read the words that guided us into marriage and during our time as parents together.
Some may think this is a little much for a headstone. For us, it was the right way to honor him and what he meant to each of us. So, do what is right for you and let the world wonder why these things are engraved alongside the “pertinent details”.
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Peace & blessings,