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The Right Words: Choosing An Epitaph For Your Loved One’s Headstone

On a headstone, it’s traditional to put the name, birthday, and death day of your loved one. You can also add an epitaph, which is a short text that honors your departed loved one.

You know you’ll return to your loved one’s headstone or memorial many times in the future. Naturally, you want to choose the perfect epitaph to remember him or her. But choosing the right epitaph can be difficult. Consider these ideas.

1. Names of Family Members

Some people choose to include family members’ names on the headstone, such as the names of the departed’s spouse and children. This can help the entire family feel included and united.

2. Roles in Life

You may want to include words that describe the roles your loved one played in life. For example, consider the traditional mother/father, sister/brother, son/daughter, grandmother/grandfather, aunt/uncle, and friend. You could also consider other titles, such as soldier, teacher, student, horse lover, athlete, doctor, or leader. Including these roles helps your loved one stand out as an individual.

3. Bible Verses

If Christianity is important to your family, you could include a Bible verse to comfort visiting family members and friends. Some Bible verses about death and hope include:

  • “Whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:15
  • “Where, O death, is your victory: where, O death, is your sting?” – 1 Corinthians 15:55
  • “I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead yet shall he live.” – John 11:25

You could also choose a verse from the Quran or another book of scripture your loved one read and loved.

4. Quotes

Quotes from famous people and from literature can also bring comfort to family members and friends. Here are some examples:

  • “The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?” – Edgar Allan Poe
  • “The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” – Mark Twain
  • “As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Choose a quote that fits your loved one’s beliefs about life and death.

5. Writing Your Own

You can further personalize your loved one’s headstone by including your own words. To write your own epitaph, spend some time thinking about your loved one. Write down some quick thoughts about his or her character, personality, and accomplishments. A few hours later, come back to what you’ve written and see if you can form it into a few lines.

Perhaps your loved one could write his or her own epitaph. If your loved one kept a journal or blog, you could include a quote from his or her writings.

Other Ways to Memorialize Your Loved One

Including your epitaph on your loved one’s headstone isn’t the only way to honor your loved one. You could also include an image on the headstone that reminds you of your loved one’s life. For example, you could choose a cross to remind you of your loved one’s religion, a piano to remind you of your loved one’s love of music, or a stethoscope to remind you of your loved one’s accomplishments as a doctor.

You can further memorialize your loved one by having a memorial built. A memorial is a custom-built structure built of stone, granite, or bronze.

If you’re still not sure which epitaph to include or you want to learn about other options to honor your loved one, contact an experienced funeral home.