Omdahl: The tombstone market becomes personal

Omdahl writes in response to a recent story about how supply chain issues are causing families to wait for a loved one's headstone.

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Just when I was planning to get one, the tombstone market turned to dust and everyone has to wait for memorial stones because the supply line died before we did. All we can say to bereaved friends, if any, is “be patient.”

I am not sure if the Scriptural suggestion to “be content” applies or not.

How can one rest in peace when the supply of tombstones won’t be ready for 20 years?

The only rational thing to do is look at alternatives, although people will expect us to be in the ground with the regular stone advertisement. Cemeteries full of friends sounds more inviting than most other options.

Just think how my grandfather felt when he was buried with a friend by a new church site and they decided to build somewhere else. Hundred years later, his bones appeared in an excavation and we had a memorial internment in June of last year. By that time, he probably thought no one would ever remember him.


We like tombstones made of stone because they give us nearly eternal life – lasting longer than our remains. Hard unrecyclable plastic lasts like stone so maybe Walmart will start selling plastic stones to bypass the bind at the quarry.

Cremation is becoming more popular because of its low cost and convenient container. As for me, I am thinking of a joint memorial service when both of us are ready. Statistics say we are not going at the same time so somebody will have to wait. Cremation provides that opportunity.

A cost in the standard funeral is the requirement of six feet in depth. There is no such requirement in cremation. A posthole digger will get you down four feet.

According to Lexikin, some are burying ashes with seeds for a tree. So what kind of tree do you want to be? Oak grows slow but lasts forever; box elder grows fast and has a shorter life. Better than a tombstone. Passing spectators can guess which tree you are.

There is a rumor that Walt Disney chose cryonics – the process of being frozen. That is not true. Walt was cremated and buried at Forest Lawn in a $40,000 plot. He has the papers to prove it.

Now the baseball great, Ted Williams, did go with cryonics in 2004 but it is a gruesome story. They separated his head from his torso – neuroseparation they called it. The procedure costs around $136,000 so it would be available only for the filthy rich.

Promession is eco-friendly, helping plant life as you become compost.

Our Sioux brothers built scaffolds eight feet above ground. People always remembered you when they were downwind.


A more recent hip method is having your ashes compressed into a vinyl record so family can play your favorite tune at the cemetery. They say that this method can leave a voice message so parenting can continue: “Clean up your plate!” “Wipe your feet!” “Put on a jacket!”

There are other options too numerous to mention. I will simply continue to watch the tombstone market and wait. Meanwhile, I will be going to Walmart periodically.

Omdahl is a former N.D. lieutenant governor and retired University of North Dakota political science teacher. Email

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

Omdahl writes, "In the two-house system, the legislators are always gaming the system to confuse accountability or avoid responsibility for their actions. There is too much buck-passing in the bicameral system."

Opinion by Lloyd Omdahl
Omdahl is a former N.D. lieutenant governor and retired University of North Dakota political science teacher. Email

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