What is Better and Will Outlast Time?
Are you thinking about an after death memorial? Did you never have any children? Do you want for your memorial to last 1000 years or more, realizing that it could eventually be the only reminder that you were alive? If so, you may then be wondering, which material do I want my headstone to be made out of? Slate, marble, and sandstone will hardly fit the bill for this situation, as they are ultimately just too weak to endure for that long. There are however two materials that just may survive, granite and bronze, although they both have their ups and downs.
It would take something of a minor miracle for a granite headstone to be destroyed any time in the near future. Granite headstones seem all but impervious to rain, hail, mold, and mildew, and it is very difficult for them to crack or break. The lettering on granite headstones and the paint are all but guaranteed to last for at least a hundred years, perhaps longer depending on the quality of service at the cemetery. After that however, your headstone may run into difficulty, as cold winters, hot summers, and sandy, windy days begin to finally take their toll. Much of this however can be alleviated by the cemetery employees giving your headstone a good bath at least every four to five years. If you do that, then your granite headstone should last very well indeed.
That said, since, unlike granite headstones, the lettering on bronze headstones is upraised bronze is probably a slightly better choice. This will make it significantly more difficult to wear away over the centuries. The fact is that even without care and assistance, you are almost certainly guaranteed with either material that the letters will still be readable for at least a hundred years. Bronze however, even without proper care might be able to survive another hundred after that. Eventually though, a lot will simply depend on the kind of staff employed at your cemetery and their perpetual care of the grounds. After at most a few centuries, this is likely to have more impact than anything else, and it is also the greatest variable.
How confident would you say you are that your cemetery will be well maintained for some amount of time? Perhaps in order to answer that question, these questions might be helpful in choosing a cemetery. Is your cemetery a family owned business that has long established a record of professionalism? Or is it part of a broader corporation, with a good standing in the burial community? For that matter, have they ever received any honors or awards for how well they have done their job in the past? How well kept do their headstones appear to be now? (You should especially look for their oldest headstones, ones over a hundred years old if possible.) Do you see any moss growing on any of the headstones? Are their current headstones legible? Do there appear to be un-mended cracks in any of the headstones? God forbid, are any of the headstones broken? Look for the quality of the headstones there, and that will help you to answer the question of how well your headstone will be protected throughout the centuries.
As was said earlier though, whether you decide to go with bronze or granite, the archeologists of 3009 will no doubt be grateful to you for choosing either for your headstone. Both have a time tested appeal. That is the reason why so many architects feel completely comfortable with both in constructing their buildings, and the signs and decorative trim around them. They know that both materials are sure to be able to stand strong against the elements, as well as a natural disaster. You should keep in mind that there will be many days of bad weather conditions, since you want for your headstone to survive for more than 1000 years.
Truth be told, the earth’s climate very likely will have completely changed by then. That world is surely one that would not be very recognizable to anyone alive today. Nonetheless, whether you decide to go with a granite headstone or a bronze one, with a little care from a quality cemetery, either stands a very good chance of surviving.