You have to be real careful when looking at the “average”. I live in Minneapolis where you could say the average temperature is 45 degrees. What you have probably already guessed is that the extremes are from -41 degrees to 108 degrees.
So what is the average cost of a headstone? I have read that the “average” is $500 for the “average” size. I have also read that the average is $2000 to $3000. Some headstones have gone above $15000. Read farther. Does that include installation? Is it a marker, meaning flush with the ground to facilitate the cemetery and the ease of mowing?
It might make more sense to discuss the variables. The cost of a gravestone, which I will use interchangeably with headstone, will depend on the size, shape, color of the stone, material, lettering, pictures or images carved, and area of the country. The materials you will typically pick from are marble, granite, bronze, and glass. The granite will vary in price depending on color and the color will depend on where the quarry is located which will in turn affect shipping cost.
The shape can have bevels cut in or be cut and carved into the figure of an angel. The size can be a marker that is flush with the ground to a two piece monument that is set on a base. You can carve an epitaph into the stone, dates of birth and death, family name and if it is a double marker, two names will be carved in and sometimes the names of the children. Pictures are often now etched in to the stone with the help of computerized machines. Images of a hobby or religious icons can be an option. Sometimes the cost of the stone will include a certain amount of letters and numbers with the price.
It is important to note that you do not legally have to have a headstone for the grave. It might very well be the custom and your wish, but it is not a legal requirement. It is also important to note that each cemetery has guidelines that you will be required to meet when you are choosing a grave headstone. They will dictate the height, width and sometimes the material and type of marker. Check with the cemetery before you place an order for an expensive headstone or you might be stuck buying two.
It is not unusual for the typical burial cost to be split into three separate entities. The first contact will normally be the funeral director. Their cost might not include the cost of the cemetery, the second main entity in the process. The third major cost might be the monument or headstone. Look carefully at what each of these breakdowns will include. If the funeral director is handling all of the details, they will typically be charging a commission to coordinate the sale of the cemetery and headstone.
Many people will urge you not to rush into buying a headstone for the grave for at least a year. This will give you time to get over the grieving process and approach the decision with a clear head. You will, after all, be “carving it in stone”. You can search for ideas, gravestones, and prices on the internet or from different suppliers in your area. Some sites on the internet will let you look at an interactive design without any obligation. When shopping, remember to ask if the installation, shipping, and all permits are a part of the quote and shop with the cemetery rules in your hand.
If you are planning a green burial, you might be shopping for your headstone at a nursery and picking out a tree or an etched fieldstone. Whatever your choice, take your time and if possible, plan ahead.