How to Write a Headstone Inscription That Honors Your Loved One

Choosing a headstone and inscription is an important responsibility.

These selections will live on for eternity in tribute to the departed, so it’s wise to go about the process slowly and deliberately. Memorial quotes can be lengthy messages or short sentences, or anything in between. They can be flowery, romantic, touching, or concise, but whatever the length or style, they should reflect the essence of the one who passed on.

The following article has compiled seven important considerations to help you create the perfect epitaph.


Never rush the process.

You may feel that you have to make decisions regarding the headstone and inscription immediately, but you can take all the time you need. Many people choose to place a temporary marker at the gravesite while undergoing the selection process. It’s not uncommon to take a year or more after the burial to erect the final headstone. By then, you will have had time to process the grief and can consider the message you want to convey.


Keep it simple.

Grave markers can involve many bells, whistles, and options. With so many choices available, it leaves plenty of room for error. Instead, go for understated elegance, such as the name, key dates, and possibly a brief inscription or quote. Keep the ornamentation simple, too; perhaps a cross or favorite flower. Ultimately, you will keep the cost down and end up with a more beautiful marker.


Avoid clichés.

Phrases like “Rest in Peace” and “In Loving Memory” have become overused. If you’re responsible for writing the headstone copy and are feeling stuck, ask your family and friends to help rephrase these unimaginative sayings. With some creativity, you can convey the same sentiments but in a way that feels more meaningful.


Turn to the classics for inspiration.

If you find it difficult to create your own emotionally resonant inscription, why not get inspired by the best? Choose a line from a poem, hymn, song, Scripture, or famous author. Better yet, choose a saying or verse that was a favorite of your loved one.


Don’t go overboard on customization.

Although personalization is popular in the funeral industry right now, your headstone inscription is not the place to tell the entire story of your loved one’s life. Leave the sports-themed sendoff for the celebration of life and keep the epitaph tasteful and practical.


Choose the right headstone material.

It’s important to note that the material from which the grave marker is carved will determine the fonts that can be inscribed on it. In turn, that will also determine the length of the inscription itself. For instance, if you choose a limestone headstone, the inscription will have to be shorter due to the bold lettering required. A slate headstone, in contrast, requires smaller italic letters that take up less room. 


Where should you place the epitaph?

There are many locations on a headstone where you could put the inscription. It depends on your preference and the overall design of the monument. For example, you might opt for the wording to extend straight across the marker or you could design it so that it follows the rim of the headstone. Many people prefer to place the epitaph on the back of the headstone so that it leaves plenty of space on the front.


If you are struggling with the design or inscription for the headstone, consider visiting a local cemetery or viewing images online. Strive to find something that feels appropriate and strikes an emotional chord.


Please feel free to contact us for additional ideas and suggestions for headstone inscriptions. Our knowledgeable, caring professionals are always here to assist you.


About Evan W. Smith Funeral Services: Since 2009, residents of Wilmington, Dover, and the surrounding Delaware community have relied on the caring staff at Evan W. Smith Funeral Services to help them through their darkest hours. Family-owned and operated, the company offers an array of elite funeral care services, including traditional funerals, cremations, memorials, pre-planning, grief counseling, and more. With decades of experience in caring for families from all cultural backgrounds and diverse walks of life, Evan W. Smith Funeral Services is committed to creating memorable, uplifting experiences that always exceed expectations. For more information, please visit

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