What Is An Epitaph?
An epitaph is a brief phrase or saying honoring a deceased person, often inscribed or engraved on their monument, headstone, memorial plaque, gravestone, tombstone, or cemetery marker.
The first use of epitaphs can be traced to ancient civilizations in Egypt, Greece, and Rome. By the 1800s, their use became common across the world.
The length of an epitaph will vary, but in most cases, it should be as succinct as possible. The amount of space you have available will depend upon the size of the memorial’s flat surface area.
In loving memory
Forever missed, always loved, never forgotten
Always in our hearts
Until we meet again
Her light shall shine before God
the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want
it was then I carried you
in God’s loving care
God is love: and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in him
those who knew them could not help loving them
life ends but love remains forever
to live in the hearts of those we leave behind is not to die
we shall meet again who have loved each other
we wept that one so lovely should have a life so brief
devoted husband and father
he was the sunshine of our home
loving wife and mother
they can never quite leave us, although they have passed,
a thousand sweet memories are holding them fast
we come and go like ripples in a stream
there is no grief where love blooms in memory’s garden
love beyond the stars
the wind beneath my wings
this gentle grace of love divine is as sweet as breath of opening flower
Helpful Epitaph Writing Tips
Effective epitaphs can be very different from one another, just like people. Some are witty and lighthearted, winking at life’s quirks and responding with joy. Others are profoundly inspirational, deep, and reflective. Some epitaphs convey information about the person’s achievements, while others include traditional religious messages.
Where To Start
One way to think about an epitaph is to consider if the message should be about the deceased person specifically or if it will be designed to convey another, broader message. For example, a personal epitaph for a woman might read, “Beloved wife, mother, and sister.” A message-based epitaph is a phrase such as “Always in our hearts.” What is key to remember is that epitaphs are designed to reflect the true spirit of the loved one. This results in a unique, personalized marker.
Create A List
As a creative exercise, make a list of words and phrases that describe your loved one’s personality. What would your loved one want others to see? Would they want the epitaph to make people laugh or to inspire others? Sometimes people choose a quotation from one of their heroes that also reflects their own character. If your loved one was religious, a verse or a psalm is a good choice.
Alternatively, many epitaphs share a snippet of the person’s legacy, such as, “Inspired poet and faithful friend,” or “He gave his life for his country.” These brief testaments highlight some of the most important aspects of a person’s life and can bring comfort to those who visit the memorial for reflection.
Another thing to consider is the permanence of the message. Think of the future and the fact that the stone will likely last in perpetuity — you will want to create a message that stands the test of time. Avoid phrasing that caters to a fad or fashion that may not last or be relevant many years from now.
Thanks to all of you who guided us through the process of designing our monument. Every member of our family is delighted.
– Anne Smith