We’ve seen delays and supply chain issues affecting the availability of many items that we may not give a second thought about, but one item that is only thought about in a time of loss is now frustrating those who are looking to honor loved ones.
There is a nationwide shortage of tombstones and orders for the memorials are piling up for some companies.
Don DeNigris, owner of Domenick DeNigris Monuments and Mausoleums, said he has about 800 orders waiting to be filled.
“We don’t even count them anymore,” DeNigiris told The New York Times.
He said demand has increased 30% to 40% over the past two years and he may not be able to complete all of the current orders until the end of the year.
DeNigris attributes the delay to COVID-19-related demand, supply-chain issues and labor shortages, the newspaper reported.
The backlog started in April 2020 when they were not considered essential services, despite the number of people dying during the pandemic. A few weeks later, an appeal was granted but it was already too late.
In Texas, Stacey Shackelford is still waiting on the headstone she ordered for her parents last summer.
“I knew that with COVID things would be delayed, and I had no problem with that,” Shackelford told KXAN.
She checked on her order in January and it was still not done because the company she ordered from doesn’t have the supplies they need to sandblast the stones.
Jonathan Modlich, owner of Ohio-based Modlich Monument Company, said 3M stopped making the rubber stencil used in the sandblasting process.
“In October 3M, notified its customers that the company will no longer manufacture Sandblast Stencil Products. Severely constrained raw material availability, exponentially increasing costs, and strategic business focus factored into the decision.” 3M said in a statement, according to KXAN.
Modlich said there are other companies where he could get supplies, even ones overseas, but they won’t be able to fulfill his business’s needs.
He’s telling his customers that it could be six to nine months to get a monument but it could be longer, CNN reported in February.
The company where Shackelford bought her parents’ marker had to shut down its sandblasting shop because of the stencil shortage.
“The stencil shortage has caused our sandblasting shop to shut down, causing further delays to us completing a monument that was already delayed by the problems of getting granite delivered on time,” Dietz Memorial employees told KXAN.
On top of the stencil issues, the granite used in many headstones is produced in China, India and other overseas locations, CNN reported. The equipment used to shape the stones comes from Europe. Shipping delays and the increased cost of containers had caused months-long delays for the raw materials.
Shackelford, however, says that she will be patient as she waits for the tribute to her parents and tries to look at the bright side in her situation, admitting it may not be the same for everyone.
“Although sad, it was in many ways a happy death, (my parents) had lots of family and friends around them so we did have a chance to have closure while they were here,” she told KXAN. “But I do know there are many families who have suffered losing loved ones from COVID that are still awaiting monuments to have some closure.”