Choosing the Right Headstone for your Loved One

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💚 In honour of Zackaël who would have turned 8 years old this week. 💚

In the fall of 2020, I started the process of looking for a headstone for our son Zackaël. However, due to the delays caused by the pandemic, the stone could not be made before the onset of winter. Headstone installation is not allowed in cemeteries once the ground begins to freeze. As such, we had to wait until 2021 to restart the process.

Impact Etching with Diamond Tip

My research in 2020 helped me decide on a monument company. Initially, I thought that the most beautiful photographic images that I would see on monuments were done by laser. The reason why I thought this was because many companies would promote, on their website, having laser imaging to create realistic images onto a headstone.

However, after research, I discovered that the latest technology is not laser, but Impact etching. The Impact machine has a diamond-tipped needle which produces deep and quality etching, similar to manual etching. Furthermore, it guarantees 100% likeness to the original picture, unlike manual etching which is as good as the talent of the artist, in addition to costing significantly more.

Laser Etching vs. Impact Diamond Etching

Unlike laser, which only burns the very top layer of the stone, the diamond-impact engraving machine physically hits the granite stone using a diamond needle. This results in a much deeper and brighter engraving.1

We had previously ordered two plaques which were etched by an Impact machine. Thanks to excellent service from Monuments Amos, we were able to quickly get the plaques delivered just in time for the one-year anniversary vigil.

Long Process with No Turning Back

Since Monuments Amos are located far from us, buying a headstone from them was not an option due to the weight and size of the stone. We therefore wanted to find a local monument maker that offered the Impact technology. From my research, few companies seem to offer the diamond etching. Once I learned that Monument Martel & Sons had the Impact machine (perhaps the only one in Ottawa), I opted for this company.

Since there’s no turning back once the headstone is installed, it can be a long and meticulous process to ensure the draft design of the stone is error-free and flawless. In this post, I will not discuss why it ended up being harder than we thought, but let’s just say that it took a few weeks to get the design right.

Personalizing a Headstone

One of the main steps was to decide on the images and words, including size and placement. I must confess that the choices of symbols/images available and listed in the monument catalogs did not represent Zackaël well. Flowers, doves (or other animals) or religious elements did not exhibit his personality.  We therefore had to come up with something else.

We also had to write an epitaph, which was challenging as we wanted something meaningful and loving, but also bilingual and concise.

Final result

As you can see in the photo below, the Impact technology recreates precise and complex drawings, including portraits. The etching is on black granite for a stunning result. As for the letters of his name (the largest), they are engraved by sandblasting to create even more depth.  We are very happy with how it turned out!

I do not have the best pictures of the headstone yet, but here are some taken with my phone.

Zackaël’s Headstone
Cimetière Saint-Joseph, Orléans Ontario

The Headstone should Reflect your Loved One’s Personality

As indicated above, none of the images from the catalog spoke to us in terms of reflecting Zackaël’s age and personality. For this reason, we used our own photos to create something unique and representative.

In the center of the stone, we can see the etching of Zackaël’s beautiful face, which we wanted as the main focus. The epitaph is just below.

On the left, we see Zackaël’s stuffy “Stitchy” holding Zackaël’s little hockey stick, a stick he used when he played hockey in our basement. To create this effect, I had to take a photo of the real Stitchy hanging on the stick, which I then sent to Martel & Sons.

Finally, at right, Carl thought we should ​​incorporate a photo where we see Zackaël jumping, his favourite activity.

Portrait done by Impact Diamond Tip etching machine, made by Martel & Sons Ottawa. At Saint-Joseph Cemetery, Orléans. Zackaël Flintoff headstone.
Portrait done by Impact Diamond Tip machine, made by Martel & Sons

At Saint-Joseph Cemetery, Orléans

The exact location of Zackaël’s headstone can be found here. The headstone is truly even more impressing in person, and visiting it is important to honour him and celebrate his life. If you ever go, please let us know as this would mean a lot to us. Moreover, if you have the chance to take a picture, we would be happy to see it. Feel free to leave a candle or something else on the base.

Since Zackaël’s headstone is highly reflective and is facing east, morning visits are better. In the morning, as the sun shines from the east, it strikes on the front of the stone, which is optimal to see it well.

Polished reflective granite headstone done with impact diamond etching. Child face portrait shows the details in the etching on the black granite. Orléans Ontario Cimetière Saint-Joseph  Baby and child headstone monument
Polished headstone is highly reflective in the afternoon

During a sunny afternoon, the south-west sunlight makes it difficult to see it well since the stone is very reflective (mirror effect); the afternoon sunlight hits the people standing in front of it which is then reflected on the stone. Alternately, a nighttime visit could have a nice effect by illuminating a candle or a lantern.

Saint-Joseph Cemetery Visiting Hours

May 1 – October 31 : 9AM – 7:30 PM
November 1 – April 30 : 9AM – 4:00 PM

That’s it for now!
Please share this on social media to honour and remember Zackaël this week, we really appreciate your support!

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14 responses to “Choosing the Right Headstone for your Loved One”

  1. Renée Avatar

    Quelle belle réalisation! Le dernier cadeau (si on peut dire) pour/de notre enfant…j’aime beaucoup ce que vous avez choisi pour représenter Zackael.
    2 ans plutard, je n’ai pas encore choisi la pierre tombale de ma fille. J’y pense beaucoup mais, je n’arrive pas à me décider. Tes commentaires vont sûrement m’aider à m’enligner. Dans mon cas, la pierre sera au cimetière de Hearst, près de son papa.
    Merci Brigitte pour l’aide que tu nous apporte en partageant ton expérience dans des moments si douloureux. ❤️

    1. Brigitte Lehoux Avatar

      Merci Renée pour ton partage. Comme tu le sais, ce n’est pas une décision facile. C’est touchant que celle de ta fille sera à côté de son papa. N’hésite pas à me contacter si jamais tu as des questions ou tu as besoin d’un avis…. de tout coeur avec toi. 💖

  2. Judy Avatar

    As I have come to expect, you and Carl have done an extraordinary job in choosing the perfect headstone for Zackael. I love the little photos in the top corners. He so loved jumping. So hard and so sad for this last step, picking the headstone, but it is a beautiful memorial to our beautiful boy.

    1. Brigitte Lehoux Avatar

      thank you Judy. If you come in the spring, we could go together. I am happy that we incorporated the little pictures, with his Stitchy and the jumping, it makes it more “him”.

  3. Denver Avatar

    What a beautiful representation of a beautiful boy. I love the images you chose. I cannot believe how clear the picture of him is. We will be sure to visit here when we are down in Ottawa next. We are always thinking of Zack, but especially today on what would have been his 8th birthday 💚 He is dearly missed 💔

    1. Brigitte Lehoux Avatar

      thank you Denver. We, for sure, can go together and show you his headstone. I know that Zack is in your heart as well. 💚

  4. Micheline Lehoux Avatar
    Micheline Lehoux

    Tellement beau et touchant merci de nous partager cette belle photo 🙏 quel bons parents dévouée vous êtes pour votre petit garçon .

    1. Brigitte Lehoux Avatar

      merci beaucoup Micheline

  5. Gilles Doin Avatar
    Gilles Doin

    Merci de ce beau partage encore une fois ! C’est super beau ! Il ne sera jamais oublier ! 🌺

    1. Brigitte Lehoux Avatar

      Merci de tout coeur Gilles

  6. CMH Avatar

    It’s so beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Brigitte Lehoux Avatar

      thank you so much

  7. Veronica Avatar

    A heartbreaking task for parents. Carl and you have captured the essence of Zackael on his headstone. Always in our hearts.

    1. Brigitte Lehoux Avatar

      thank you Veronica

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