Monuments do more than just mark spaces in cemeteries.
In Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, Olaf, Christine and Effie Olsson rest near a large family monument with several meanings.
The style itself – a stone that is half carved and half uncarved – symbolizes the transition from life to death.
Closer inspection reveals a complete pillar with leaves and flowers.
A broken or incomplete pillar or column generally signifies a life cut short or a sudden death. A column like the one on the Olsson marker has a top and a bottom. This can mean a full and complete life, steadfastness and/or the deceased’s support of/belief in heaven.
The leaves at the base of the pillar are laurel which symbolizes spiritual victory. Open flowers, such as the one shown above, generally represent a belief in renewal in the afterlife.
While census and other civil records show the Olssons’ occupations and socio-economic status, their final resting place tells us much about their religious beliefs.