Final Words: Writing the Perfect Epitaph

The message on a headstone is very important. After all, headstones last for years, and they remind the living of those who have passed on.

Most headstones include the name of the deceased with his or her year of birth and year of death. And, as you’ve probably noticed while strolling through a cemetery, many headstones also include an epitaph: a short message written by the living in memory of the deceased. This epitaph usually represents both what the deceased would have wanted to be remembered for and what the living friends and family want to honor.

If you choose to remember your loved one with an engraved epitaph, take your time and choose a message that expresses your love and respect.

How to Write an Epitaph

When you write an epitaph for your departed loved one, consult with family and close friends. What do they think would be a fitting tribute and loving reminder of the deceased? Most epitaphs are fairly short and concise, but they convey a powerful message. Choose a message that comes from the heart.

Because you might be writing an epitaph during a very emotional time, we’ve compiled a list of epitaphs that we think express love, sincerity, and devotion. Perhaps an epitaph here-or one like it-will pay the perfect tribute to your loved one.

Epitaphs That Focus on Relationships

Perhaps your loved one would most want to be remembered for his or her relationships. And the epitaph on the headstone does, in many ways, communicate how living friends and family feel about the person. With that in mind, you may want to write something that pays tribute to your loved one from your perspective. Choose an epitaph like one of the following:

  • “Beloved _______” (wife, husband, mother, father, daughter, son, etc.).
  • “Cherished friend and beloved companion.”
  • “Soldier, teacher, friend, leader” (or similar roles).

You may also consider including a religious quote beloved by the deceased-a verse from the Bible, an ayah from the Quran, or a verse from the Torah are examples. These statements can express the person’s beliefs and provide comfort for religious family members who remain.

Many family members choose to write a short, personalized statement on the headstone, such as, “A long life well lived,” “Loved and remembered,” or “Forever in our hearts.” Consult with family and close friends to write something meaningful and respectful.

Epitaphs From Poetry

The world’s poets, writers, and lyricists have written beautiful words about life and death. Below are a few simple, sweet sayings that hold great meaning.

· “There hath pass’d away a glory from the earth.” (William Wordsworth)

· “And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.” (Kahlil Gibran)

· “To unpathed waters, undreamed shores.” (William Shakespeare)

· “Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” (W.B. Yeats)

· “Death is but crossing the world, as friends do the seas; they live in one another still.” (William Penn)

· “It is not length of life, but depth of life.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

· “To touch the soul of another human being is to walk on holy ground.” (Stephen R. Covey)

· “We only part to meet again.” (John Gay)

If your loved one enjoyed reading or loved the work of a particular creative person, it may be a fitting tribute to use a few lines from that individual’s writings as an epitaph.

Historical Epitaphs

The following epitaphs were used by historical figures on their own headstones. They express poignant feelings and thoughtful images.

· “Could the grave his soul comprise, Earth would be richer than the skies.” (John Donne)

· “Here lies one whose name was writ in water.” (John Keats)

· “Write me as one that loves his fellow men.” (James Henry Leigh Hunt)

· “Goodnight, dear heart, goodnight, goodnight.” (Olivia Susan Clemens, daughter of Mark Twain)

· “Home is the sailor, home from the sea, and the hunter from the hill.” (Robert Louis Stevenson)

· “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, I’m free at last.” (Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.)

The words of great men and women can be inspiring to those left behind. They can also express in beautiful terms how your loved one felt about life.

Children and Infants

Writing an epitaph for a child or baby can be very difficult. Simple, sweet, and sincere statements express tender love for the child. Examples include:

  • “Held for a moment; loved forever.”
  • “So small, so sweet, so soon.”
  • “Ours for a little while.”
  • “A little soul takes wings.”
  • “Mommy and Daddy love you.”

The love expressed on a headstone for a departed child is one of the sweetest tributes a parent can give.

As you prepare the epitaph for your loved one’s headstone, we offer you our deepest condolences. We hope that you will find a statement that simply and beautifully expresses your love for the departed. Please contact us if you need help writing an epitaph.

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