When someone is buried, their headstone is put in place to mark the site and ensure they're remembered. Sadly, as generations pass, older graves often get forgotten and fall into disrepair.
It's a tragic shame that people's lives pass from memory in this way, but people often choose to locate the burial places of their ancestors so they can pay their respects and bring the monument back to its former condition.
If this is something you've thought about doing, you may have found that not knowing where to begin has held you back. It can certainly be difficult to get started, but once you have a few ideas, you should be able to locate the resting places of family members quite easily. Here's where to begin.
Narrow it down
Start off broad so you know where you're looking. Your family might have lived in your current town for generations, but this isn't always the case. Talk to other family members, particularly older ones, and see what they have to offer. You might be surprised.
Once you've got one or more towns in mind, find where all the churches and cemeteries are, and shorten your list by excluding any that are unlikely based on religion.
If you think there are some churches where you might find your ancestors' graves, get in touch. They most likely have extensive records which they might be happy to share with you, or they would at least be able to point you in the right direction.
Research in local libraries
Libraries are treasure troves of local information, and they might have local burial indexes that you can look through. Another good source in libraries is local newspaper archives, particularly if you go through the obituaries section.
Use the internet
Most things can be found on the internet, which can be as much of a hindrance as it is a help. Because of this, it's a good idea to exhaust other possibilities before you start searching online. There are several indexes of cemetery records and similar archives, although you might need to pay to access them. Alternatively, you might be able to locate individuals who live in the area and who are willing to help you.
Be careful and thorough in your searching and don't waste time looking at unlikely places. Remember also that historical records are often patchy and spellings were quite varied before literacy became more widespread, so try alternative name spellings if you're not getting anywhere.