When visiting a loved one's grave, do you pay much attention to the headstone? You know precisely what is written there, so it's not as though the headstone will be scrutinised each time you visit the cemetery. There's something a headstone can do that will make you take notice, and that's when it appears to be retreating into the earth. What can be causing a sinking headstone, and how is the problem corrected?
A sinking headstone can be distressing to see, but the reasons can be rather straightforward. A heavy stone perched on soft soil can sometimes destabilise, with environmental factors speeding up the process significantly. The headstone might simply sink while remaining level, or it might begin to tilt. In any event, headstone restoration is going to be necessary, and this should happen as soon as possible.
Talk to the Cemetery
You should contact cemetery management to find out whose responsibility this is. It can depend on the terms of your loved one's internment. You might be paying annual cemetery maintenance fees, and if so, then restoration should be arranged by the cemetery themselves. In some cemeteries, the onus is on you to arrange the necessary repairs.
The Soil Underneath
The extent of restoration will largely depend on the consistency of the soil beneath the headstone, which won't be known until the headstone is removed. Repairs can be more extensive when the matter is delayed, as the headstone itself is not designed to be submerged (even partially) in soil, no matter how robust it might be. It's not that the headstone will need to be replaced, but intensive cleaning might be needed if any portion of the headstone has been underground.
Stabilising the Headstone
Once the headstone has been removed from its location, it's usually just a manner of acknowledging that its anchor was insufficient. A new, broader concrete base can be laid, with the headstone then reinstalled, although this option won't protect the headstone from sinking again. It's also possible to add additional stability to the gravestone, by adding a metal rod into the monolith, the large rectangular portion of the headstone, which is then inserted into a hole in the base and extends down into the soil. It's just a matter of adding additional stability to prevent the headstone from sinking again. The concrete border of the anchor can also be widened for extra stability.
A sinking headstone can be upsetting, so contact cemetery management as soon as you notice it. Then you'll know whether the cemetery will arrange repairs, or if you'll need to take care of it yourself. For more information, reach out to a professional who provides headstone restoration services.