Choosing what to write on a headstone can be very difficult. Often you’re in a place of deep grief, yet you are being asked to write something that is a lasting marker of a loved one’s resting place. The epitaph you choose is an opportunity to express your love, as well as a way to display the unique character of your loved one for those who will come after.
What is usually included on a headstone?
A headstone serves as a grave marker for anyone who wishes to pay their respects to the deceased person and because of this, there are certain things that are usually included.
- Dates – including date of birth and date of death
- Significant others – usually partner or children, but sometimes other family relationships
- Age at death
- Significant words or phrases
Consider the wishes of your loved one
Many see the epitaph as the final gift we give our loved ones and for this reason, it’s important to consider how they would feel about what you choose to have engraved on their headstone. If the deceased was a very private person, they may prefer a simple headstone that offers their name and dates. Alternatively, you may know that they’d like to have an epitaph that will raise a wry smile from those who visit or something that celebrates and communicates their views and values.
Ideas for an epitaph
The epitaph you choose can be as simple or as elaborate as the space allows. You may choose a gentle declaration, such as “beloved wife and mother” or “devoted husband” or you may opt to include some lines from a favourite poem or song. There aren’t many rules about what can and can’t be written on a headstone, but it’s always worth checking with the cemetery or churchyard before going ahead with your plans, especially if you want something unusual.
Do I have to put something religious?
Not at all – you don’t have to include religious references, although you can if you’d like to. A headstone is very much a legacy for your loved one, so don’t feel you have to include anything that isn’t an appropriate memorial.
The benefit of planning ahead
No one likes to think about losing a loved one but having difficult conversations now can help those left behind to trace a path through their grief. You can either have a direct discussion about what you’d like on your headstone or if that’s too challenging, just add your specifications to your will. Knowing we have carried out the wishes of our loved ones goes a small way to helping us learn to live with our loss and makes a fitting memorial for those who choose to visit their resting place.
How Cairns Funeral Directors can help
At Cairns Funeral Directors, we understand how challenging the first days and months of grief can be. Our team will help you with every aspect of your loved one’s final farewell and are always happy to offer advice and guidance on all aspects of their memorial.