My spouse died young and I don't know what my end of life wishes are. Do I buy a single monument or a double monument? What is appropriate? What do I do?

This question comes from a young man (25 years old) who has recently lost his wife. He is incredibly torn on what to do about the monument.

On one hand, he wants the world to know that his wife was dearly loved. On the other hand, he realizes he may eventually decide to remarry.

So the question remains: should he purchase a single memorial for just his wife, or a double memorial for both of them.

Knowing what to do in this situation is tough. However, with a little “out of the box” thinking, I feel certain he can find a solution that he comfortable with!

Do I Create a Single or Double Memorial?

Before I dive into my ideas for his situation, let's discuss the key difference between a single and double memorial. Now, this may seem elementary, but it isn't!

What is a Double Memorial?

A double memorial is a memorial that is made for two people. Typically it will have the name and dates of life for each person listed on the front. In the case of a living partner, the date of death is left blank. The monument in the photo below is a great example. You will notice Miss Dorothy has both dates of life listed while Mr. Roger only has his birthdate listed.

In this case we do not know his end of life wishes, but he may choose to be buried here, buried elsewhere or cremated. He and his family has options!

Double winged memorial in black granite

Occasionally I will have a family choose to engrave the side for the deceased partner and leave the surviving spouse's side blank.

Double, winged air cross memorial in Black Diamond granite
Fernandez family memorial

As you see on the Garcia memorial above, the family has engraved Jorge's name and dates of life already. The other side, however, is left blank for the future engraving of his wife's name and dates of life.

A Double Memorial on One Plot

If cremation is a part of the decision, then a surviving partner/spouse may choose to only use one plot for burial of the body and/or ashes. An interesting fact is that you can bury two sets of ashes in one plot. Or, you may even bury one body and one set of ashes in one plot. With cremation, the options can be endless.

A Double Memorial on Two Plots

If cremation is not a part of the decision, then a surviving partner/spouse may choose to center the monument over two plots. One plot will be used by the deceased partner/spouse and other will be reserved for the surviving person.

What is a Single Memorial?

In contrast to a double, a single memorial is a monument that is dedicated to only one person. It is always installed on one plot for one person who has either been cremated or buried. Even if a person owns more than one plot in the cemetery, a single monument is always centered over one grave.

Small upright memorial in Onyx Storm granite
Single memorial for Keith Maestri

How to Create a “Convertible Monument”

When a young partner/spouse passes away, I like to suggest something a little different to the surviving individual. Rather than force them to consider their own end of life wishes, I like to encourage them to simply consider keeping their options open.

Now, you may wonder, how does one “keep their options open” in the cemetery? And that is a great question!

If you are torn between doing a single or a double memorial for your partner or spouse (or even for a parent!), keep reading!

My number one suggestion is to consider a “convertible memorial”. A convertible memorial is one that starts as a single headstone and may later be converted into a double.

This allows you to focus on honoring the deceased while taking your time to consider how you would like to eventually be honored.

Of course, as with most things, a photo is worth a thousand words. So let's explore this concept with photos.

The Concept of a Convertible Headstone

I want to show you a single memorial my team and I created in 2017. It is a simple, fishing themed memorial for Stony McJunkin. Isn't it nice? You can read a little more about this memorial here.

Small single upright monument
Small Georgia Gray Single Memorial

When the family dedicated this memorial to Stony they never dreamed they would soon endure another loss. However, only a few short years after having lost Stony, the family also lost his wife, Cami, at the age of 46.

The family wished to honor both Stony and Cami in a beautiful and permanent way. I think they nailed it with the end result!

In this case we simply removed the existing base from underneath Stony's memorial and replaced it with a longer one. We kept his headstone and his flower pot and added a complimenting headstone for Cami.

The end result is so pretty!

A single headstone later converted into a double headstone.
A single headstone converted into a double

What I love about the convertible headstone option is that it doesn't force anyone to commit to either a single or a double. Rather, it allows them to keep their future options open while allowing them time to make such important decisions.

While the McJunkin stones are more traditional in appearance, convertible monuments may be made more modern too.

Modern, convertible headstone.
Single convertible headstone.

This modern twist on a headstone is simply stunning! We used a pedestal (the short piece of stone the vase is sitting on) to engrave the last name of the deceased. This small piece is important because it will help pull together our future memorial for a cohesive look.

Duuble winged memorial
Single memorial converted into a double

Choosing between a single memorial or a double memorial is an overwhelming decision to make. However, with the convertible memorial in mind, you now have more options than ever!

My Memorial Creation Journal is a great guide to help walk you through all of the monument decisions. And, best of all, it is free! Follow this link to check it out.

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