How supply chain issues have caused a headstone shortage

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JOPLIN, Mo. (KODE/KSNF) – Supply shortages are everywhere these days. One shortage is leaving some families looking for answers when a loved one passes away.

There’s always been a short lag time between laying a loved one to rest and how long it takes for the headstone to be placed on the burial plot. That’s no longer the case, and yes, the pandemic is to blame.

Eric Green, the manager of Missouri’s Joplin Granite Co. tells Nexstar’s KODE/KSNF there is now a six-month minimum time frame to complete a headstone. The company’s turnaround time used to be as little as just a few weeks.

“We just need our families in our community to know that yes, we’re doing everything that we can, it’s kind of out of our hands,” says Green.

Why so long?

Headstones are made out of granite, which has to be extracted from the ground, cut to shape, engraved, polished, and, eventually, set in place. Green says the pandemic has done a number on how long it takes that process to be completed.

“The quarries are having their problem with the worker shortage, we are having the problems with getting it from the quarries because of those reasons,” Green tells Nexstar’s KODE/KSNF. “Because of the situation with COVID and the excessive deaths, it is a complete supply and demand issue.”

He says it could take two years for the process to go back to the pre-pandemic time frame, and, because their suppliers have had to resort to transporting the stones out of the quarry themselves, it may only be a matter of time before prices are affected.

“So currently, you could spend anywhere between $500 to $1,000 for a stone, but if the supply and demand keep going the way it’s going, yes, that could significantly increase,” Green explains.

A recent report found Americans are dramatically shifting their funeral choices, and funeral homes say they are adapting to the changes. More than half of the country’s residents are choosing cremations over traditional casket burials, according to the National Funeral Directors Association.

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