What to Write on a Headstone

If you’ve lost a loved one, you may choose to have a headstone made in their honour. This is a touching tribute and a special way to commemorate them but knowing what to write on a headstone and finding the right words can be a challenge. 

In this guide we share some tips on writing your own beautiful words to put on a headstone, as well as different types of engraving and the basic details you’ll need to include in your loved one’s inscription. It’s also worth talking ideas over with your local funeral director for their expert knowledge. 

Take your time

You want to be happy with the words you choose and if you rush the decision you could end up regretting them. It’s not something you need to think about immediately as headstones are not usually installed until several months after the funeral service. So, you can afford to spend some time discussing the wording with family and friends until you’re completely comfortable with your decision.

Less is more

It’s easier said than done but try not to overthink it. You don’t need to write loads, in fact less is often more when it comes to headstone wordings. Keep it short and sweet and make sure the messaging you choose truly reflects who your loved one was. Short headstone engravings are a great choice as space will evidently be limited by the size of the headstone itself.

Make it evergreen

The words you choose for your loved one’s headstone need to be timeless. You want to be able to treasure the words in years to come and for them to resonate with every returning visit. A headstone inscription lasts forever, so spend time with family and friends to talk through your options so you can settle on wording that best commemorates your loved one.

Tone of voice

If you’re struggling with what to write, try to think about the voice of the person speaking before writing an epitaph. Your loved one may have requested their epitaph be written in their voice and so your wording should reflect this. Headstone inscriptions can also be written as if it was being spoken by a family member or close friend, or in third person as a message to the people reading the headstone.

Types of engraving

There are lots of different approaches you can take when writing an inscription for a headstone. Below is a list of the things you could include or use as inspiration to help you find the right words to say. Whatever you decide to go for, make sure it captures the essence of your loved one.

  1. Simple or classic epitaph e.g., Rest in Peace, In Loving Memory
  2. Referencing life roles e.g., Beloved wife, mother, daughter
  3. Quotes from the bible e.g., The righteous shall go into life eternal, Matthew 25:46
  4. A short excerpt from a poem
  5. Celebrity epitaph e.g., The Best is Yet to Come, Frank Sinatra
  6. Famous quotes/words of wisdom e.g., Where there is love there is life, Mahatma Gandhi
  7. A personal message or quote from your loved one
  8. Your loved one’s favourite song lyrics

Principal details

  1. Opening phrase e.g., Dearly loved
  2. Name of your loved one (full name or nickname if appropriate)
  3. Date of birth and death
  4. Relationship with your loved one (sometimes the immediate family and their relationship with the loved one is included).
  5. Closing phrase e.g., Always remembered

Ask for help and advice

If you’re struggling with choosing the right words for your loved one’s headstone, you can always seek advice from your local funeral director or find funeral services that offer guidance on headstone memorials. 

Our funeral directors will be able to inform you on any restrictions there may be depending on the burial site you choose, as well as the type of messaging to opt for if you’re limited to a few lines. Any further queries regarding headstone prices or designs can all be discussed with our knowledgeable funeral directors and arrangers.

For more support following the death of a loved one, there are many organisations that can help. Find out more about bereavement support.

Step by step guide

There are several steps in the Funeral Planning process you will have to consider.

Types of funerals​

There are a number of different types of funerals available. Which type of funeral service is right for your loved one?

What happens at a cremation service?

Cremations are fast becoming the norm in Britain with over 70% of families choosing this type of

Further Reading: Cost of a funeral

Find out about funeral costs and what financial support could be available.