The Significance of an Epitaph
When a loved one has been laid to rest in a cemetery the final stage of closure involves the placement of a tombstone or grave marker identifying their grave. It is here that we are given one final occasion to communicate to the world the significance of our loved one.
Tombstone epitaphs reflect one’s existence highlighting their personality traits or accomplishments in life. In some cases, they may also tell the story of the circumstances that brought them to their death.
Even though tombstone epitaphs have varied over time one thing remains a constant. Sagel Bloomfield Danzansky Goldberg Funeral Care, Inc can help create epitaphs that are a meaningful way to give respect to the deceased.
The headstone epitaph often includes a person’s name and dates together with a headstone inscription. This may take the form of a piece of prose or a reference from the Bible. The aim is often to praise the humble virtues of the person who has died or to remind us of the bond between the living and the dead. It may be a symbol or reminder of our mortality or indeed immortality. This is a very personal choice, one that should not be influenced by others.
Writing An Epitaph
In many ways, nobody knows your life or achievements better than yourself – or just how you would like to be remembered. Take time to think about just how you wish to be remembered. Finding the words that describe yourself can help you focus on what is truly important in your life – whether it’s an achievement or one of your many roles in life. A good epitaph should make the reader pause – and think. And it is a final opportunity to leave your mark, in the words and tone you create.
Tombstone epitaphs take on many forms and are derived from many sources. One of the most popular forms are taken from biblical scripture. Bereaved family members often choose a biblical verse as an epitaph as it may exhibit some virtuous quality that was a characteristic of the decedent’s life.
Advice on choosing an epitaph
- “Less is more” – epitaphs are usually short and concise. Even if you use the whole reverse of a headstone, you will be limited to a few lines. They are a chance to sum up a person’s life in just a few words, to give it shape and express real emotion.
- Epitaphs often convey a strong feeling. However, the best epitaphs are timeless and not overly sentimental, and for this reason, always wait at least a year before choosing one so that emotions have time to settle and you don’t later regret your choice.
- Often, someone is speaking in the first person (a relative, a friend; the deceased). You might want to think about whose voice you want this to be.
- Consider whether you want the epitaphs to speak directly to someone. This may be a passerby or the loved one themselves.
- Take inspiration from literature, lyrics, and poems. You might even use a few words from a poem which was read at the funeral.
Some choose to write a tombstone epitaph detailing the accomplishments of the decedent’s life. Maybe the person was a great doctor who selflessly gave his time tending to the sick, or one who was known for their philanthropy or community service.
Some are ones that clients of Sagel Bloomfield Danzansky Goldberg Funeral Care, Inc. they have made up themselves or have found in poems or even lyrics to songs. For example, an epitaph on a headstone could say, “Give me the beat boys and free my soul”, a lyric from a song by Mentor Williams.
The most important thing to bear in mind, is that the inscription will be there for hundreds of years. Do not be hurried into choosing an epitaph straight away.
Whatever the subject an epitaph allows us to post our reflections of the personalities and achievements of the departed, marking their existence here on Earth.