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Epitaph Help

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.

what is an epitaph

Popular Epitaphs

In loving memory

Forever missed, always loved, never forgotten

Always in our hearts

Until we meet again

Forever loved

Religious Epitaphs

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

Love Epitaphs

Together forever

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

Family Epitaphs

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

Nature Epitaphs

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.

create an epitaph list


[Infographic] Tips for How to Write Epitaphs Infographic

Important Considerations

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