Monday, January 13, 2003

Ask A Stupid Question

Markers can rest in peace at either end

By Mike Pulfer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Question from Reading: When visiting a cemetery, is the grave marker at the foot of the grave or the head of the grave?

Answer: Yes. Maybe. In most cases.

If that's a little unclear, you might want to see your local cemetery representative.

"We always know," which way the deceased is placed, says Thomas L. Smith, senior vice president at Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum, Winton Place.

But the ultimate answer depends on the individual plot and the section of the cemetery in which the beloved lies.

"It sort of depends on how the cemetery has engineered the spaces," Mr. Smith says. "Oftentimes, it's not real apparent which way it is, unless you see an individual corner or survey post."

The term "headstone," based on historic tradition, tends to mislead.

"In Spring Grove, I would say most of our memorials - probably 90 percent of them - are at the foot position of the site," says Mr. Smith. "But we do have certain sections and areas within sections where memorials are at the head of the grave."

Cemeteries have rules and regulations about the placement of bodies and memorials, but those rules aren't always consistent, even within a particular graveyard.

"Memorials can be at either end," says Mr. Smith.

Or neither end.

"Memorials can be in a number of positions. Larger memorials, called ledgers, can encompass and cover larger portions of the grave site itself, and, in some cases, can be more toward the center of the grave," he says. "Sometimes a memorial will straddle two graves, as in the case of a husband and wife" side by side.

Feel better? Now we can all rest easy.

If you have a stupid question, send it to Ask a Stupid Question, Cincinnati Enquirer, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati OH 45202; fax: 768-8330; e-mail

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