The image of hands in some form is very common on gravestones and they are most often shown praying, pointing, clasping or blessing.
Clasped hands shown in a handshake identify the deceased meeting his maker and is a symbolic of a welcome into Heaven. The hands are often seen with the word Farewell inscribed above or below the hands: farewell to earthly existence with the hope of meeting in eternity.
The depiction of a man holding a woman’s hand (identified by a frilly cuff) indicates marriage or a close bond between individuals, and represents unity and affection even after death. The person who died first holds the other’s hand, guiding the spouse to heaven.
Most of the hands illustrate the right hand in a grasp with fingers overlapping the other hand while the left hand is open.
When the handshake is enclosed within a wreath of flowers it denotes heavenly joy and bliss.
Praying hands are a symbol of devotion, a pious person in life or prayer for eternal life
Hands holding a book are an embodiment of Faith
A hand holding a chain with a broken link symbolizes the death of a family member.
A hand holding a heart is a symbol used by the fraternal organizations I.O.O.F (Independent Order of Odd Fellows) and Masons. It symbolizes charity and is common on 19th century memorials.
A hand holding a palm leaf is the hand of God reaching down from a cloud to lay a flower on a grave
Hands making the “Live long and prosper” sign (hands touching at thumbs and sometimes forefingers joined) represents members of the priestly tribe of Aaron. It is a benediction or blessing.
This image represents the hand of God bringing a soul unto himself.