Historical cemeteries show skulls representing the transitory nature of life on earth and skeletons symbolizing death. The sun and lamb represent Christ, the moon, Mary. Hands symbolize God reaching down from Heaven. Wings and birds to describe the "winged soul" of the deceased.

Today the focus of headstone art is more for beauty and to glorify the memory of the deceased. The rose is the universal symbol for love and beauty while the lily denotes purity and resurrection. Ferns represent humility and sincerity, ivy is fidelity, immortality and undying affection.

Popular Jewish symbols include the Star of David(Divine Protection), the Lion (strength) and the Scroll of the Pentateuch (Divine Law).

The cross represents not only Christ but often religion, salvation and redemption. Popular nondenominational symbols are the heart (devotion, love, courage and joy) and intertwining rings(marriage bonds). There are innumerable fraternal emblems and ethnic symbols.