How to choose verses for headstones

Choosing the most appropriate way to remember a loved one for now and future generations can be difficult. Designs should be a fitting tribute to a unique life and personality, and it is only right that family and friends should take the time to consider their decision carefully.

However, this will also need to be balanced against rules which may be in place for individual cemeteries and churchyards that govern what is and isn’t allowed. For these reasons, selecting verses for headstones can add to the pressure at what will be an undoubtedly upsetting time.

A fitting tribute

Not only will there need to be a discussion about shape, materials and finish, but the inscription is arguably the most important feature of a headstone and it is therefore important to find the right words.

There are many important questions you will want to consider including who is best placed to choose the wording.

An epitaph is a short statement to honour the deceased. Derived from the Greek word ‘epitaphios’, this text can be a simple outline of a person’s life and family and is occasionally accompanied by a brief but heartfelt introduction. ‘Beloved mother of’ and ‘In loving memory of’ are popular yet deeply moving and personal choices.

Some inscriptions take inspiration from verse or quotations. If the deceased was creative or thoughtful, then this might be a good way to celebrate their memory.

Suggestions include:

  • And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then you shall truly dance
  • Step softly, a dream lies buried here
  • Those who leave us for a while
    Have only gone away
    Out of a restless, careworn world
    Into a brighter day

There may be regulations in place about the length or contents of a verse to be included on a headstone inscription. If you are in doubt, it is always advisable to check with the cemetery management first.

Taking inspiration from other sources

Although poetry is a rich source of inspiration for headstone inscriptions, religious or Biblical quotations can also be used. However, as with any text, this should be a true reflection of the deceased’s life and character.

There are plenty of examples to discuss with loved ones before making any decisions. Consult books, online resources and speak to funeral organisers about options and recommendations if you find restrictions are in place

Remember, there is no right or wrong and no two people are the same.

Talk to Davis Memorials for advice

We treat families with sensitivity and compassion. If you would like support and advice about choosing the wording for a headstone, simply complete our contact form or call 01384 566 958 to speak to a member of the team.