What to Put on the Headstone

What to Put on the Headstone

What to Put on the Headstone

Of all the funeral plans you make on behalf of the deceased, perhaps none is more lasting than the inscription on the headstone. The words you choose to mark the grave will be the first thing people see when they walk by the grave, and the final thing they take with them when they leave the cemetery. These words will also last much longer than your own memories, showcasing your love and affection for centuries to come.

What to put on the headstone is entirely up to you, but some of the more common options include these features.

Name and Important Dates

Almost all headstones include at least the name of the deceased and the dates of their birth/death. You can choose to include the full name or a nickname (it’s common to include both, a la John “Smitty” Smith) as a way of passing that information on.


Because so many headstones are small as a way to reduce funeral costs and to take a more eco-friendly funeral approach, they don’t have room for much beyond the name. However, simple images are common. You can choose between:

What to Put on the Headstone
  • Cross
  • Angel/Cherub
  • Star
  • Religious Symbol
  • Animal/Bird
  • Praying Hands
  • Musical Note
  • Sports Token (Soccer Ball, Ballet Slipper, Team Insignia, etc.)
  • Flowers
  • Family Crest

Short Verse/Epitaph

Although a long poem or scripture passage might sound nice, few headstones have room for much beyond a few short words. You can choose to highlight a feature about the deceased (scholar, parent, friend, teacher, leader, soldier, mother, father, angel) or select a few comforting words. Some popular favorites include:

  • Always in Our Hearts
  • We Will Cherish You Always
  • In God’s Care
  • In Loving Memory
  • Farewell
  • You Will Be Missed
  • At Peace
  • Gone But Not Forgotten
  • Until We Meet Again
  • Safely Home
  • Missed By All
  • Our Guardian Angel
  • Lived Well, Laughed Much, Loved Often
  • An Inspiration to Us All
  • Called Too Soon

If you aren’t sure what kind of saying you want, feel free to walk through the cemetery and look at what others have had inscribed. Oftentimes, someone else’s grief will mirror your own, and you’ll find that they’ve captured the sentiment in ways you can’t.

Humor/Personalized Details

Because headstones (like funerals) are getting more personalized these days, you might also have room for humor or more in-depth personalization. There are now sports headstones that feature a specific team, humorous headstones that make light of death (and the great beyond), entire landscape pictures that cover a headstone, and even smartphone-friendly headstones that allow users to access websites and mobile information about the deceased.

While any and all of these options can work, be sure you consider the long-term effects of a headstone like this. Pop culture references and humor don’t always stand the test of time, and what seems like a good idea now may not hold up fifty years from now. Headstones can be replaced at a later date, but it can be costly, so take your time to pick the perfect phrase now. You’ll be glad you did when you visit the cemetery to take comfort in your loss.

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