What Do You Write on a Headstone?

When you lose a loved one, you will likely spend some time wondering what do you write on a headstone. A short message referred to as an epitaph is usually added to a headstone along with a person’s name, birth date, and death date. Typically, the goal of the epitaph is to leave some words of wisdom, share the most important values of the deceased, or summarize the person’s life. It represents a bond between the living and the dead.

Writing the epitaph can be a very difficult job. How do you summarize an entire life in a few short words? If your loved one did not request a specific headstone inscription, it is usually recommended to take some time before you write the epitaph. Right after they are gone, you will be experiencing a whirlwind of emotions. You may end up regretting the words you choose if you don’t give yourself time to clear your head and think.

Tips for Writing an Epitaph

  • Less is usually better when it comes to epitaphs. Usually you are limited to a few lines on the headstone so you want to make it short and concise.
  • Think about the voice of the person speaking. You could write the epitaph as if it was being spoken by the deceased, a relative, or friend.
  • Do you want the epitaph to be spoken directly to an audience or do you want to just describe the deceased’s life? This is a personal choice and it depends on the deceased. If they were someone that people would go to for advice, you might want the epitaph to convey some final words of wisdom.
  • Make sure what you write is timeless. Remember, these words will be there forever.

Epitaph Examples

Writing an epitaph can be done in a number of different ways. Some people like to reference the life role of the deceased, others have a bible verse written, some a classic quote, and others select to have an image of their loved one laser engraved on the tombstone.

Referencing Life Roles

Some people may want the headstone engraving to reference the different roles they had in life. If the deceased was specifically proud of something they did such as being a parent, nurse, or a school teacher you may want that acknowledged.

Quotes from the Bible

If the deceased was a devout Christian, you may want to consider writing a verse from the bible. We recommend you read through the bible and try to select a verse that speaks to you about your loved one’s life.


An excerpt from a poem could make for a great gravestone engraving. This could be something you have written, or the work of someone else. If it is the latter, make sure you credit the author for the words. This is a great option for those who loved poetry or literature.

Laser Engraved Photo

Some people choose to have a photo of their loved one or of a symbol laser engraved on the tombstone. This can replace or be added along with an epitaph. Generally, a polished black granite tombstone is used.

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Found and Sons Funeral Chapels & Cremation Service

Found and Sons Funeral Chapels & Cremation Service

In a day when large funeral home conglomerates are everywhere, Found and Sons Funeral Chapels & Cremation Service remain family-owned and operated. When you call or visit our homes, you will find a full staff of caring professionals providing personalized, compassionate service, before, during and after the funeral. Our goal is for all families to leave Found and Sons having had a very meaningful experience.

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