Creating an Epitaph for Your Relative's Gravestone

So, you've recently lost a loved one and are now tasked with choosing a gravestone and deciding on an epitaph. It's a privileged job, and not a minor undertaking — the words you choose will be engraved in stone and last long into the future. This memorial will be a tangible reminder of your loved one's place on earth.

You have the option to give the usual 'Rest in Peace' alongside facts that include birth and death dates and the deceased's relationship to others. This is the standard and is perfectly acceptable. However, you may want a memorial that reflects the personality of your relative.

If you're struggling to find the perfect words, read on for tips that will help you narrow down the options.

Know the Burial Ground's Rules

You'd think that you could put anything on a gravestone, but not all graveyards are the same when it comes to rules and regulations. Some will allow you carte blanche, some will not. This should be your first consideration — you don't want to pour your heart into the perfect epitaph only to have it declined.

If you've been given a guide on what you can and cannot say, then you'll already know what will be acceptable. If you've been given no such information, you should check with the appropriate person to make sure that your epitaph meets the rules before placing an order for a stone.

Capture Your Loved One's Personality

Sit down and make a list of the first things that come to mind when you think of your loved one. Once you've done this, ask friends and family to do the same. Look for the common threads — things that you all saw and remembered about your loved one.

If this still doesn't provide you with the right material from which to choose, answer the following questions.

  • What did your relative love to do?
  • Did they have a job that they loved?
  • Did they have a love for animals, music, films or places?
  • Were there any sayings that they were fond of?

The answers to these questions should be enough to provide you with material to work with.

As you're writing, you should keep in mind the type of person your loved one was. For example, if they were known for their brilliant sense of humour, then an amusing epitaph would be a fitting way to honour and remember them. If they were formal and serious then amusing would be the wrong way to go.

Choosing a tombstone can be an emotional experience. Ultimately, you are trying to capture the essence of a loved one in a sentence or two, while you are grieving. Give it as much thought as you can but not so much that it adds to the burden of stress that grief brings. 

For more information, contact a gravestone service.