Things To Write on a Headstone

The time leading up to and following the funeral will bring on many challenges, both emotionally and physically. Responsibilities of arranging the funeral, obtaining the death certificate, reaching out to all those that knew your loved one and all whilst mourning your own loss. One of the final arrangements you will need to make, will be arranging the headstone to place at your loved one’s final resting place.

Whilst this may seem straight forward, knowing the perfect message to have engraved on the headstone may leave you ‘lost for words’. That is why we have created this article on what to write on a headstone, to help you find the right words, under such unfortunate circumstances.

Why do we have headstones?

Headstones (also known as gravestones and tombstones) serve as memorial markers for the remains of the deceased. Their sole purpose is to mark out the final resting place of the departed. Although their purpose can seem heavy and solemn, headstones can bring a great level of comfort and closure to the bereaved families.

What information is included?

Typically, you will include the full name of the deceased, their date of birth and their date of death. However, in this day and age, it is more common to see a short epitaph (a phrase or form of words written in memory of a person who has died) included on the headstone.

Finding the right words…

Their own words

Consider using words or phrases in which they had always referred to in their day to day life. Maybe they had passed down words of wisdom in which might make a fitting tribute to have added to the headstone. Using their own words, or words you have heard them use many times, will truly honour their memory.

A quote from a movie

Something a little lighter, a line from a favourite or popular movie, might make the perfect addition to a headstone. Especially if they were a movie buff, like many of us are nowadays. This type of message can hold many different meanings and sentiments. People use funny lines, favourite tag lines, words of great meaning and inspiring quotes, you can get rather creative with your choices. Here are some suggestions…

  • “Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore" – The Wizard of Oz
  • “Life is not the amount of breaths you take. It’s the moments that take your breath away.” (inspiring) – Hitch
  • “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” – It’s a Wonderful Life
  • ”Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller’s day off
  • “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” – Lord of the Rings
  • “Everything is possible, even the impossible.” - Mary Poppins Returns
  • “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • “When life gets you down, you know what you gotta do?... Just keep swimming.” – Finding Nemo
  • "To die would be an awfully big adventure" - Peter Pan

A quote from a book

This is perfect if your loved one was an avid reader, particularly if the quote reminds you of them in some ways, or feels as though it would be something they would say.

  • ”If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.” - (A.A Miles - Winnie the Pooh)
  • "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known." - (Charles Dickens - A Tale of Two Cities)
  • “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it” -(Road Dahl - The Minpins)
  • "It is nothing to die; it is dreadful not to live.” Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
  • "You only get one life. It's actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.”- Me Before You Jojo Moyes

Lyrics to a favourite song

If your loved-one had a passion for music, why not take a line or verse from their favourite song. You may even choose to include the lyrics from a song played at the funeral service itself.

  • ” Life goes on, it gets so heavy, the wheel breaks the butterfly. Every tear a waterfall In the night the stormy night she'll close her eyes. In the night the stormy night away she'd fly” – Coldplay, Paradise
  • ” And I think to myself, What a wonderful world” – Louis Armstrong, What a Wonderful World
  • “Till we meet again, Until then, Goodbye – Celine Dion, Goodbye’s

A Favourite Recipe

If your loved one had a favourite recipe that everyone used to enjoy, why not share it with the world or at least with anyone passing through the cemetery? In a way, it’s a nice tribute too and keeps part of them alive, even if you will never know who sees it and tries the recipes for themselves.

An Acrostic Poem

Although best suited to a poetry lover, this works almost as well for a thoughtful poem, with an added message spelt out using the first letter of each line.

A Religious extract

An extract from a religious scripture would always be welcomed if the bereaved held faith during their lifetime. This is also something to avoid if they were not religious during their lifetime.

A Little Humour

This can be a controversial opinion, but also can hold great meaning to the close relatives when choosing what to write on the headstone. Especially if the bereaved held a great sense of humour during their life-time. Including a joke or a witty one-liner might make for the perfect tribute in their memory.

If you find yourself responsible for arranging the headstone of a loved-one, make sure to include the closest family members with the decision of you final words. Especially if they might be seen as controversial. However, the most important thing to consider, is would the bereaved appreciate your choice of words. That is how you will truly know if they are the perfect choice for the headstone.