Choosing a Headstone Epitaph

Always in stone - epitaph

Choosing a Headstone Epitaph

An epitaph is a quote or saying inscribed on a memorial to serve as a tribute to a departed loved one. This is often done on a headstone or gravestone. It is also a meaningful way to show others the significance of your relationship to the deceased, be it a person or a pet. Epitaphs are a reflection of the loved one’s impact in this world and often highlight his or her personality and accomplishments.

What should an epitaph say?

It is easy to identify special qualities in someone, however, summarizing their entire life in just a few words can be difficult. Choosing an inscription for a headstone can cause stress and anxiety, but it also provides great comfort when the words are just right. Many times, a Bible verse or classic quote is ideal to preserve a special memory. Sometimes, the circumstances of their passing are summed up. Whatever choice you make, it should bring the memory of your loved one respect and devotion.

Sources of Epitaphs

Epitaphs are designed in various forms and are derived from a large number of sources.

Bible Verse

One popular form is taken from biblical scripture. Bereaved family members frequently decide on a biblical verse for an epitaph. It often reflects a virtuous quality in the life of the deceased.

  • “Sleep on now, and take your rest.” Matthew 26:45
  • “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8

Literature, Lyrics, and Poems

However, If you cannot put your feelings into words, poetry is a good option to research. This can be found in an actual poem or a line of a favorite song. It can also be a timeless quote from a literary work. Poetry itself is created to invoke emotion, so this is a great approach to use – or use to get your own inner poet warmed up.

  • “You are my sun, my moon, and all my stars.” (EE Cummings)
  • “Do not stand at my grave and weep
    I am not there; I do not sleep.
    Do not stand at my grave and cry,
    I am not there; I did not die.” (Mary Elizabeth Frye)
  • “Lights will guide you home” (Coldplay)


Heartfelt quotes are widely available. The internet is an effective platform to research quotes that would apply to the love you have for the deceased. Quotes can also be transformed to include your own words to personalize the thought further.

  • “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.” (James Dean)
  • “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become.” (Steve Jobs)

Types Of Epitaphs

Based on Accomplishments: The deceased may have been one who greatly impacted the world through his or her works. A selfless philanthropist might be best known for helping others.

  • A life of deeds, not of years
  • He had a good and kind heart – the best of all qualities

Based on Interests: An epitaph can refer to a passion of the deceased. If your loved one was an avid lover of sports, music, film, etc…you can choose an epitaph the deceased would have enjoyed in that area.

  • He ran a good race and won the prize
  • A song is more lasting than the voices of birds

Humorous Approach: Although epitaphs are generally serious, it is possible for an epitaph to tell a funny story in a very short way.

  • Here lies the body of Nathan Blake, stepped on the gas instead of the brake
  • Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey-ey, goodbye

Epitaph Guidelines

Choose the Focus

Decide what you want to focus on. It can be something special about your relationship, a religious context, something uplifting, a specific attribute of the deceased. Remember, it should convey a strong feeling.

Keep it Short

Simple words can still have a huge impact. You can also use short, simple, and elegant words to create a great epitaph for a headstone. Avoid cluttering your words. Since an epitaph is a way to sum up a person’s life in a few powerful words that express real emotion, a good rule of thumb – Less is better.

Examine the Message

Decide who the epitaph is speaking to. Will it be in the first person? The message will be read by passersby as well as friends and family members.

The Ultimate Purpose of a Headstone Epitaph

A headstone epitaph typically includes a person’s name and dates, embellished with a headstone inscription. These can be designed in many ways. However, the aim is often to praise the virtues of the loved one who has died as well as to remind us of the bond that will persevere even after death. This is a very personal choice, and the end result will be a timeless tribute.

Always in Stone is here to provide you with all of your needs during this time of grief. Whether it be creating the perfect epitaph, or looking for the right headstone. We are here to make the process best for you. Contact us if there is anything we can help you with.

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