Ask Jenings.ie: Erecting a Headstone
Most cultures erect a headstone as a marker to identify the grave of a departed family member.
It’s usually one of the final details in burying a loved one, and it serves as a focal point for people who are visiting the grave.
In Ireland many families wait until several months or a year has passed after the funeral of the deceased before they erect a headstone; this is due to a combination of reasons.
In many cemeteries the earth around the grave may need to settle for several months before a headstone is erected.
If a stone is being created where none is in existence, ordering it and the creation of it will take a while, depending on how busy the stonemason/headstone makers are and how long it takes to get permission from the cemetery to do so.
Also, allowing time to go by between the person’s dying and the final detail of the ceremonial elements of death – the headstone – seems to be an important note of closure for many families.
Do I need Permission to erect a Headstone?
Cemeteries are either owned by a County Council or they are parish- run. They all have their own rules and regulations for granting permission to erect a headstone. There are fees charged by the cemetery for this and they vary from place to place.
The permission will normally be applied for on your behalf by the maker of the headstone and any fees will be added onto your account. Only when permission is granted can the work proceed on your grave.
Some cemeteries have specific limitations on what can and can’t be erected within the confines of their grounds; but the headstone maker can get this information for you. You will not have to interact with the cemetery yourself.
There are usually height limitations; as well as other guidelines.
Permission from Cemetery Authorities
The makers of the headstone will apply to the Cemetery Authorities for a permit to erect the headstone on your behalf. The current owner of the Grave must sign the relevant documentation to erect the Headstone.
They will contact you once the permit has been granted, and the Stonemasons will prepare the headstone according to your wishes and advise of the approximate date it will be erected.
Cemeteries in Ireland take varying degrees of time to process a permit; in some cases the length of time will depend on whether a foundation is already in place or not.
How soon after a burial can I erect a headstone?
It really depends on the cemetery your family have chosen. There is no designated time limit or protocol in place for when the headstone needs to be erected.
Many lawn cemeteries facilitate a headstone to be erected immediately – as soon as you wish.
If you are allowed to put a surround around the grave (not in a lawn cemetery), the headstone and surround can go up immediately.
However, it is advisable that the grave is not cemented until the ground settles normally, at least 4 -8 months depending on the location. Putting peat moss / clay on the grave will aid the settlement of the grave after burial.
How long does it take to erect a headstone after ordering?
Once the relevant permission has been granted the order can proceed, and depending on how busy the headstone makers are, along with availability of material, a headstone will be erected within 4 weeks.
Many people also choose certain times of the year to erect headstones as a further recognition of the death of a loved one; for example on the anniversary of the death; birthdays, religious holidays or other dates significant to the family.
How do I go about purchasing a headstone?
You can organise it yourself if you wish by calling to your nearest headstone showroom, where experienced staff will assist you in the process; you can also enlist the help of your Jennings Funeral Director who will be happy to help you.