4 Meaningful Things to Place on a Grave

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People across the world choose to leave all kinds of meaningful or symbolic items at a grave to honour and remember the life of a lost loved one.

Choosing something appropriate to leave at the grave of your loved one doesn’t have to be complicated, as with a little thought you can quickly determine whether an item is practical, special, meaningful, and permissible.

There are many different things that you can install or leave at a grave to pay tribute to a life and show how much you care.

By choosing something that personifies or symbolises the emotions you will continue holding in memory of a loved one, you’ll quickly realise that the meaning it represents can prove far more important that the item itself.

A pathway leading into a cemetery with graves and headstones

Contact the Cemetery to Find Out What You Can Leave on a Grave

First things first, before you leave something on a grave it’s both important and respectful to contact the cemetery or churchyard to find out what things are allowed.

Cemeteries will have their own rules and guidelines as to what they deem permissible, so to avoid having your tribute removed from a grave, ensure the item you’re considering installing or leaving is allowed.

This includes tributes and items you may want to leave at the grave during certain times of the year, such as birthdays, Christmas, and other notable dates or holidays.

A quick phone call or browse at the cemetery website should provide you with the information you need to be respectful to the cemetery grounds, staff, and all other visitors.

Headstones & Other Stone Memorials

It should come as no surprise that the most common and long-lasting tribute that people leave at a grave is a headstone or other memorial, such as a cremation memorial.

Grave memorials can be made from a wide range of different stone materials, are built to last, can be crafted by memorial masons into any size, shape or design (subject to cemetery or churchyard regulations) and can display engravings, fine craft etchings, photo plaques and other additional creative extras.


Many cultures decorate graves with flowers making them a staple of many cemeteries and their burial plots the world over.

From the day of the funeral and for years following, family and friends often leave fresh flowers (as well as artificial flowers if the cemetery allows) as a beautiful way to pay their respects.

Flowers are often placed in front of a headstone, on the ground next to it, or inside flowers vases that are often built into stone memorial bases.

People also often place a fresh flower bouquet on top of the memorial where possible or lay a flower wreath on the burial plot or on the ground near the headstone.

When choosing which type of flowers to leave at someone’s grave, you could choose based on one or several of the following:

  • Their favourite species of flowers
  • Their favourite colour
  • A flower with symbolic meaning
  • Flowers that are in season or that relate to a specific holiday


Coins aren’t such a popular meaningful item to leave on a grave here in the UK, but in ancient times, and in other countries and cultures, particularly those across South America, leaving a coin is a widely used practice to show respect for the deceased.

Their historical use revolved around them being used as a way to prepare their deceased loved ones for whatever it is they would face in death and were viewed as a bribe to ensure they would receive a safe passage into the afterlife.

In some cultures, coins are left on military graves to show that they’ve been visited by living soldiers, and to honour those who died while serving their country.

These coins are often collected and donated to a charity or organisation that benefits veteran soldiers.

A pile of coins that can be placed on a grave or headstone

Stones & Pebbles

You may occasionally come across stones and pebbles that have been left on top of a headstone or alongside a grave.

This is an ancient tradition that originated within certain religions and evolved from what was once a necessity to cover a fresh grave with stones and pebbles to prevent animals from gaining easy access to the plot.

Today stones and pebbles have fortunately lost their practical use and are instead most often left as a sign of respect and to let the deceased know that you have visited.

For example, it’s common for children to collect pebbles at the beach and/or paint stones from the park or garden to leave as decoration at a loved one’s grave.

You could also consider leaving stones with a specific symbolic meaning, such as birthstones, coloured gemstones or a worry stone that you may have recently been carrying around to aid your grief.

Other Meaningful Items to Leave on a Grave

Other meaningful items you could consider leaving on a grave – again, provided the cemetery allows – might include:

  • Photographs of your loved one, or of you and your loved one
  • Items associated with things your loved one enjoyed, particularly when it comes to leaving something for a child
  • Handwritten notes

As we’ve reiterated several times, whatever meaningful item(s) you decide you would like to leave on your loved one’s grave, the most important thing is to check that you’re not going against any of the cemetery or churchyard rules before doing so.

Here at Ursells, we have been crafting meaningful headstones and memorials for families across Ross on Wye and surrounding areas of Herefordshire since 1885. If you would like to discuss the design and creation of a beautifully unique memorial for your loved one, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us by calling 01989 562530, e-mailing info@ursells.co.uk or by completing our online contact form.

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