What to write on a headstone


The headstone usually marks a place of reflection, thought and mourning for those who were close to the deceased. Small tokens of remembrance and appreciation are often left at the headstone – including flowers and small trinkets.

Headstones are commonly made from materials such as limestone, sandstone, bronze, wood, concrete, granite or marble and can be designed to sit upright, flat or kerbed. They can be directly inscribed with text, or text can be written on a headstone plaque.


Writing your headstone inscriptions

Headstone inscriptions generally include the below:

  • The full name of the deceased
  • Their date of birth and passing
  • An epitaph

They can also include symbols and/or pictures upon special request


What is an epitaph?

An epitaph is a short text, often in the form of a phrase, poem or quote inscribed on a headstone in memory of the deceased. It’s often chosen by those responsible for organising the burial but can also be chosen by the deceased before their passing.

When writing or choosing what to include in an epitaph, there are a number of different ways you can structure it. It can:

  • Celebrate or reflect on the life or achievements of the deceased
  • Mourn the loss of the deceased
  • Send a final farewell message to the deceased
  • Be witty, clever, or even funny – often the case is chosen by the deceased


Epitaph examples

  • Famously, actor Joan Hackett signed her epitaph: “Go away, I’m asleep.”
  • Author F. Scott Fitzgerald’s epitaph was adorned with the final line from his most popular book, The Great Gatsby: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
  • Bassist of The Ramones,  Douglas “Dee Dee” Ramone, referenced the band’s song “Blitzkrieg Bop” with the line: “O.K… I gotta go now.”
  • Poet T.S Eliot wrote: “In my beginning is my end… The end is my beginning.”
  • American aviator Charles A Lindbergh’s epitaph read: “If I take wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea.”
  • Howard Ashman, the man responsible for the lyrics behind many of your favourite Disney songs, had the following as his epitaph: “O, That he had one more song to sing.”
  • Author Hilaire Belloc penned his own epitaph, that read: “When I am dead, I hope it may be said: His sins were scarlet, but his books were read.”


Choosing the right headstone wording

Outside of the epitaph, headstones generally include a specific style of wording you may choose to adopt for your loved one. Common opening phrases written on the headstone include:

  • “Gone, but not forgotten.”
  • “Always in our hearts.”
  • “Beloved (father) and (grandfather).”
  • “Rest in peace.”
  • "Here lies…”
  • “Lovingly remembered.”
  • “In loving memory of…”
  • “Forever in our hearts."


Understanding headstone prices

The price of the headstone is determined by a number of factors, including your chosen size, style and colour of the stone, accessories and lettering. As expected, the larger the size of the headstone, and the higher the quality of the stone, the more it will cost.

Granite is one of the most popular headstone materials due to its durability and affordability. The cost of the headstone, including a base, can start at the $2,000 mark. Additionally, a headstone plaque is often a more cost-effective option compared with inscribing the headstone directly.

You should also note that cemetery fees will also apply for the placement of the headstone. Costs for a burial plot on a perpetual term begin at approximately $2,600, but this will vary from state to state.


Custom headstones

Customising a headstone for your loved one can be a confusing and expensive process. It’s important to remember that both the look and inscriptions of your headstone are entirely your choice and you don’t need to follow common wordings or structures. Ultimately, the final product should be based on your (or the deceased’s) personal preference, and whatever you believe will best reflect who they were as a person.