Choosing an inscription for your loved one’s headstone is a difficult and emotional task that you will want to get right. Summing up their life and your feelings in just a few short sentences is not easy, but there are some simple steps to follow that can assist with you in making your choice.
In terms of the number of words, it is important to remember that the more inscribed, the less space there is for future inscriptions. As such , it is advisable to use a few short sentences to sum up who your loved one was and how their life is remembered by their surviving family members.
A lot of families like to start an inscription with an introduction or a prayer, it is not essential to start an inscription in this manner, the most important details are the deceased’s name and yes, you can use an abbreviated name or nickname and date of death, then perhaps the date of birth but often families will use the age. Nearly all gravestone inscriptions will make reference to the deceased’s role in life, such as a mother, father, brother and so on. Examples that can be used here are ‘In loving memory of a dear father’ and ‘In affectionate memory of a loving and much loved mother and grandmother.’ Epitaphs showing the feelings of friends and relatives can also be expressed here, with phrases such as ‘Remembered with a smile’ and ‘Sadly missed by all the family.’
Epitaphs need not be just a few words, but could be a couple of lines devoted to the bereaved’s memory of their loved one. Phrases that could be used include ‘Tenderly I treasure the past, with memories that will always last’ and ‘As time goes on, the days pass by, but memories of you will never die.’ The epitaphs could also refer to how a person died instead of or as well as, how their loved one’s feel. A person who died after a long illness for instance, could have ‘Peacefully sleeping’ on their gravestone. Alternatively, for somebody who died suddenly as a result of an accident, ‘Taken suddenly’ would be appropriate.
Children’s epitaphs tend to indicate the young age at which they died.Phrases often used are ‘Remembering our tiny angel’ and ‘Sweetly sleeping.’ Longer phrases could reflect the care which the child is being given in Heaven, an example being ‘Sleep our beautiful angel on your pillow in the sky, angels are forever so we’ll never say goodbye.’
Biblical verses are often used for epitaphs and if you read the through the bible you may find a phrase that sums up yours and how your loved one would feel about death. Common verses used include ‘The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want’ and ‘Thy remembrance shall endure into all generations.’
On many Victorian headstones there are inscriptions referring to the deceased having ‘departed this life’, indicating the faith in the afterlife. Today, a person’s faith can be demonstrated with numerous phrases such as ‘Only goodnight beloved, not farewell’, ‘I know that my redeemer liveth’ and ‘Safe in the arms of Jesus.’ For headstones on graves where more than one family member is buried, a simple ‘Reunited’ or ‘Together in heaven’ can often suffice.
As we live in more secular times today, it could be that a less formal quote is needed if the deceased did not believe in an afterlife. The quote could be inscribed as if it has come from the deceased themselves and say for example, ‘I had a busy life, now I am having a rest.’ The inscription could even be humorous, such as ‘I told you I was sick.’
When considering the quotes, you do need to appreciate that what is inscribed will be a permanent memorial and reflection of your loved one, so it is important to make the right choice. If the deceased had not indicated themselves what they may want inscribed on their headstone, try and imagine how they would think, and work something out from there.
Sarsfield’s masons have been providing headstones and inscriptions for three generations and can offer advice on what may be best for your loved one’s memorial. Please contact us for a chat on the phone or by email, for a free no obligation quote or to make an appointment for us to visit you.