A death in the family is always a tragedy, but the loss of an infant is particularly difficult to deal with in the weeks and months after the death. Choose a permanent memorial for your lost loved one to add to your family cemetery plot or an infant-specific memorial lawn. Consider combining two or three of the following ideas into one memorial that has plenty of personal meaning for your family.
1. Turn to Symbolism
Both religious and secular symbolism can give you a personal connection to the grave marker you place in a public or private cemetery. Some of the most common visual symbols used for infant and child graves include these:
- daisies, rose buds, and lilies, three flowers linked to innocence and youth
- lambs and other baby animals, which are connected to the Christian faith but also used for nonreligious memorials
- cherubs and angels, symbols of peace and joy in the afterlife
- cradles, rattles, and booties engraved into the grave marker.
Don't forget about having items bronzed and added to the grave marker, such as the infant's first socks, booties, or even a hospital bracelet. The bronzed item needs to be encased in a protective acrylic case or firmly anchored to the marker so it can't be removed or accidentally damaged.
2. Write an Epitaph
Personal quotes or lines from religious texts are other good ways to personalize a flat or raised grave marker. Memorials for children are traditionally marked with wishes of comfort and peace to the infant, but it's also appropriate to express regrets through the gravestone epitaph. You can always leave the grave marker blank at first except for just the basic details. As long as there's space left for an inscription and you keep the stone clean, you can add a few lines of text later when you find the perfect quote.
3. Choose Durable Materials
Since the grave markers for children and infants are usually smaller than the stones and plaques used for adults, you need to choose the most durable materials that fit within your budget. This insures the marker lasts for decades with minimal damage from the maintenance equipment used in the cemetery. Many memorial parks either designate a separate area for infant graves or require them to be interned on a family plot. Consider bronze, granite, or marble, depending on the environmental conditions of the area where the marker will sit. Choosing a contrasting material helps the marker either stand out or blend in according to your wishes.
4. Hire an Artist
If you want to include truly personal symbols or a family portrait that includes the child, hire a professional memorial artist to create artwork for etching or printing onto the grave marker. Plain etchings are limited in detail, but full color decorations are also easy to create with the right equipment. You can even include photography and footprints or work multiple keepsakes into one main centerpiece for the memorial.
5. Draw Inspiration
Finally, consider taking a page from Victorian mourning traditions when trying to design a touching memorial for an infant. During the nineteenth century, infants and babies were often commemorated with a touching sculptural memorial that included a sweet baby peacefully sleeping in a curving sea shell. This design is not as commonly seen today, but it's a timeless design that is easily replicated with modern grave marker sculpting technology.
No matter what type of grave marker you choose for your infant, find out how to best maintain the particular material you choose. Using the right cleaning products and techniques will keep the metal, stone, or other material looking new for as long as possible. Visit a website like http://www.elmwoodcaskets.com to learn more about infant grave markers.