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Grieving families deal with granite supply shortages causing headstone delays

Getting the necessary materials needed to make headstones has became pricey and nearly impossible.

SAN ANGELO, Texas — COVID-19 has taken millions of lives across the United States. People battled with the virus while alive, now because of the COVID-19 related supply chain shortages, laying people to rest when they die has also become an ongoing struggle. 

Some grieving families have to wait more than a year to put headstones on their loved ones' graves.

Karen Coates, president of National Memorial Planning in San Angelo, said getting the proper materials like granite shipped here overseas has become more expensive and has taken longer than ever. 

“Things like the rubber stencil that’s required for sand blasting is taking a long time to be shipped from overseas. Well we can’t engrave any headstones without that stencil,” Coates said.

Granite is used to make the majority of headstones and is one of the most important aspects of creating headstones for loved ones. Because of the recent supply chain struggles, thousands of businesses nationwide like National Memorial Planning sometimes have to call people letting them know their order may be delayed because of shipping troubles.

Is purchasing materials in the U.S. rather than overseas a viable option?

Well, in the memorial business, most of the time it’s not. Getting the proper materials such granite in state becomes more expensive.

Places like Asia, China and India specialize in making granite for things such as headstones.

Containers went from being $3,000 per container to $20,000 per container, Coates said. 

Another issue is how families sign contracts agreeing on a specific price but then the material prices may drastically increase. This leaves the memorial planning business having to fit the bill. 

“We explain to people that it’s not just our company that is affected but it’s everybody. All we can really do is just be patient and hope things get better very soon,” she said.

With baby boomers continuing to pass on and another COVID-19 related variant spreading across the nation. There us no telling when the supply chain issues will be resolved.