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Ideas for Headstone Inscriptions and Epitaphs

Tim1965, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Tim1965, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Following the loss of a loved one there are many decisions to be made, including deciding on an inscription or epitaph, for the headstone. Selecting an epitaph for the headstone is something to carefully consider. An epitaph is a quote or short phrase that is inscribed onto the headstone or burial monument of a loved one. This inscription is a way to honor them and the life they lived. Included in an epitaph is the deceased’s name, date of birth, and date of death. For example:

Always in our hearts
“Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life”
Revelations 2:10

How long do I have to select the epitaph?

It is not uncommon for family member and loved ones to feel a little overwhelmed when the time does come to start thinking about the headstone inscription or epitaph. Finding the perfect words to honor a loved one for all eternity can take time, time you should take. There is no rush with this decision, in fact we recommend taking 6 months to a year. This will allow time to grieve and provide the time necessary to consult with others, if you choose.
The words you choose will be forever inscribed in stone, a constant and eternal reminder of the life of your loved one. Therefore, before the engraving begins it important that you are sure that the epitaph you have chosen is truly what you wish to say.

Tips for Deciding on an Epitaph

When deciding on an epitaph consider who you want the epitaph to speak to, whether it be family members or people passing by. Try to avoid using anything that is part of a fad, as it may not be understood years down the road. Remember to keep it short and simple, think about your loved one, their life, hobbies, and faith. You can seek ideas and inspiration from poetry, music, movies, or literature. Get creative! If you wish to make your loved one’s headstone truly unique to them, try avoiding the common phrase “In loving memory”.

Below we have compiled a list of some quotes and phrases, for inspiration.

Bible Verses

These first few options we chose are Bible Verses, perfect for a loved one who’s faith was very important to them.

  • “Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.” – Matthew 5:8
  • “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” – Psalm 23:6
  • “He has passed from death to life.” -John 5:24
  • “For by grace you have been saved through faith.” -Ephesians 2:8
  • “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” -Psalm 23:4

Short and Sweet

If the headstone is smaller or you would prefer something more straight to the point, here are a few wonderful suggestions.

  • Dance on…
  • Devoted in love.
  • Your love will light my way.
  • In God’s care.
  • An inspiration to all.
  • A long life well lived.
  • She walked in Beauty.

Couple’s dual headstone

Many couples choose to be laid to rest together, so that they may spend all of eternity with the one they loved. Dual burials are also more financially friendly, for families. Here are some excellent options to consider.

  • “We lived together in happiness. Now we rest together in peace.”
  • Together Forever.
  • “Love is patient, Love is kind, Love never fails”

For Men

  • “The world is diminished because he is gone…but it is still a better place because he was here.”
  • “His true wealth was in his generous heart. And what endless wealth he did have.”
  • “He always did the things he thought he couldn’t do. Thank you for your courage and inspiration.”
  • “A man greatly loved, and greatly missed.”

For Women

  • “She never took no for an answer and pushed ahead when others paused. But a kinder, gentler woman you will never meet again.”
  • “A mother holds her children’s hands for a while, their hearts forever.”
  • “A beautiful life came to an end. She died as she lived­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­-everyone’s friend”
  • “God took her home, It was His will, But in our hearts, She lives on still”

Direct Quotes

Using excerpts from a poem, song, literature, or movie is a great way to ensure the perfect inscription.

  • “Give me the beat boys and free my soul” song lyrics by Mentor Williams
  • “To live in the hearts of those we love is not to die.” (Thomas Campbell)
  • “Unable are the loved to die, for love is immortality.”- Emily Dickinson
  • “Grace was in all her steps, heaven in her eye, in every gesture dignity and love.”- John Milton
  • “The song ended, but the melody lingers on.”- Irving Berlin
  • “Don’t grieve. For what we lose comes around in another form.”-Rumi
  • “There are no good-byes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart.” Mahatma Gandhi
  • “Remember me with smiles and laughter, for that is how I will remember you all. If you can only remember with tears, then don’t remember me at all.”- Laura Ingles Wilder
  • “For all we know this might only be a dream, we come and go like ripples in a stream.”- Nat King Cole
  • “Be still. Close your eyes. Breathe. Listen for my footfall in your heart. I am not gone but merely walk within you.”- Nicholas Evans poem “The Smoke Jumper”
  • Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”- Dr. Seuss


By far one of the hardest things in life, is the loss of a child. Due to the overwhelming amount of grief that comes with the loss of child, emotions will be strong, and this is one of those times where it may take longer to find the right words. Below are a few ideas for inscriptions that can be used to memorialize a child.

  • “You will always be my Sunshine”
  • “This little light of mine shines like a star in the heavens.”
  • “A life measured in Memories, not in years.”
  • “Our little angel”
  • “So Small, So Sweet, So Soon”

Finding the words to memorialize a loved one can be difficult. Remember to keep it short, avoid fads and trends, seek the input of family and friends, be creative and always remember to think of how your loved one lived their life. We hope these epitaphs have helped to inspire you. As always, the wonderful staff here at Columbia Gardens Memorials is only a phone call away 703-527-7774 if you should need any further assistance.


COVID-19 Update

We are continuing to practice social distancing and following CDC guidelines, to protect our community and staff. However, we are open and available to serve you. Todd and our engravers are back on premises working and we are accepting appointments during our normal operating hours. To schedule an appointment with us please call our office at (703) 527-7774 or email us at

Thank you for your understanding during this time. – The Columbia Gardens Memorials Staff