Some Words About Your Epitaph

Have you ever wondered what you’d like to say on your tombstone? What you’re thinking about is your “epitaph,” or an inscription on a tombstone or monument in memory of the person buried under that stone. While some epitaphs are flowery, others can be heartbreaking – especially those for children – and some are downright funny.

What you say on your tombstone, provided you decide on a burial plot with a stone, is up to you. But, if you don’t decide what you want to say, then the person or people who bury you will decide the epitaph for you. Just like cemetery symbols, an epitaph can tell people or remind your community who you were, what you did and when you were born and died.

While some epitaphs can be wordy (I’ve seen one that listed the person’s children’s and grandchildren’s full names plus how the person died!), you’ll need a magnifying glass to read all that information or plenty of money for a large stone. Instead, look through epitaphs written on the stones marking the graves belonging to famous people, funny epitaphs or instructions on how to write an epitaph for ideas. Then, think about the type of stone you’d like to have to mark your grave.

Take a stroll around a local cemetery, or visit the cemetery where you’d like to be buried. As you stroll around, check out the local customs for epitaphs. You may discover that most people keep their stones fairly simple, marking the full name, possibly a husband or wife, birth date and date of death and possibly a marriage date. Sometimes, all people can afford are the simplest of markers, with a name, year of birth and year of death.

The tombstones in your community can tell you much about the people who are buried there, the type of life that person led, and the economic status of that person. Although some families honored their patriarchs with elaborate stones and epitaphs, few people want or need that type of stone. After all, your beneficiaries are the ones who will visit your grave – and an elaborate stone might be resented if it took money away from a descendant who was attending college or having a child and who could have used those funds.

On the other hand, it’s your life and your death. Although you won’t be able to enjoy that tombstone after you die, at least you can die knowing that you’ve chosen the epitaph that will represent you best for as long as that stone lasts.

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