Supply chain issues are nothing new in the COVID-19 pandemic, even two years later as the world begins to recuperate from more trying times, with one industry in particular taking an unfortunate center stage in the last two years.

As of March 2022, the virus has been responsible for more than 970,000 deaths in the United States, according to the latest data from the CDC. It's a number that reflects heartache and hardship, and is coming to the family and friends of those passed at an increasing cost.

Buying a gravestone for a loved one is often an unexpected cost, but now, getting one in the cemetery is a process taking longer than usual, slowing down orders.

Some monument companies are struggling as materials like granite and rubber stencils for sandblasting become more limited.

At Richard's Memorial Service, owner Neil Lewis says, just when he thought the granite issue couldn't make things any worse, 3M stopped producing the rubber stencils he needed to sandblast memorials, a process that etches the names, dates and epitaphs for those we wish to remember into the stone.

Lewis says there's been a significant increase in demand for gravestones by 40-50% since the pandemic began.

He says his shop got calls from other monument companies all over the region, asking about any extra supplies he was lacking. Foreseeing further issues, Lewis says he bought up a year’s worth of stock for his two monument locations.

“To try to stay ahead of the problems, is we’ve already ordered and received palates of sandblast stencil. Anything that was available, we’ve purchased,” said Lewis.

He also mentioned a price increase seen by wholesalers, as much of the colored granite is shipped in from places like India and China.