The art of epitaphs: How to write for a gravestone

Losing someone important to you is one of life’s most emotionally challenging times – and unfortunately it’s something that tends to become more frequent as we age. Choosing a fitting epitaph for a friend or family member’s gravestone can seem like a daunting task, but it's actually an important part of the grieving process.

Here are some ways to honour the memory of a loved one and help ensure they are never forgotten.

Keep it brief

When it comes to writing a memorable epitaph, less is more. Keep your message short and concise, focusing on the most important qualities of the person being memorialised. A good rule of thumb is to aim for around 10 to 12 words – this will ensure the message is easy to read and remember – but there is no ‘perfect’ length.

Highlight their legacy

An epitaph should capture the essence of your loved one’s life and speak to what they meant to the people who cared most about them. Consider their greatest accomplishments, their values, their beliefs – what did they stand for in life, and what is the lasting impact they’ve left on the world? Weave these elements into the epitaph to create a tribute that stands the test of time.

Shine a light on their personality

Your loved one’s personality traits may inform the tone of the epitaph. Were they well known for their sense of humour? Were they regarded for their kindness? Will they always be remembered for their charity and giving spirit? Incorporating these parts of their personality can make it much more personal and memorable.

Seek inspiration

If you're struggling to find the right words, seek inspiration from others. Look up famous epitaphs – while you shouldn’t necessarily copy them outright, you can see what makes them so memorable. It’s also important to reach out to others who loved the deceased, so speak with their friends and family for ideas you might not have thought of.

Proofread and revise

Once you are happy with the words you’ve written, take care to proofread and revise it. Check for spelling and grammatical errors, and ensure the message is easy to understand. It’s worth sharing the draft with friends and family to get their feedback and make any final changes.

Associated costs of gravestones and epitaphs

The cost of a gravestone and epitaph can vary depending on several factors. There are many different materials you can use for a gravestone, as well as small, medium and large sizes. The complexity of the design itself, and the length of the epitaph you want carved into the stone may also affect the final cost. Here’s what to consider:

  • Material: The type of stone or other material used for the gravestone will likely have the biggest impact on final costs. Granite is a popular choice because of its durability; it also comes in a variety of colours. Marble and limestone are also commonly used but be aware they are more prone to weathering over time.
  • Size: A larger stone will require more materials and labour, which can drive up the price.
  • Design: Intricate designs and engravings will require more labour costs, so weigh the benefits of different designs against your budget.
  • Epitaph: In many cases the cost will be included in the total price of the gravestone. However, if you decide to have a much longer or more complex epitaph carved, it may incur additional charges.
  • Installation: Depending on the cemetery and plot location, installation fees can vary. For example some cemeteries may require you to purchase a foundation, which can drive up the total cost.

Creating a lasting memory

While it can be an emotional process, creating a meaningful and lasting tribute for your loved one could be well worth spending the time on. Whether you opt for a simple message or a more intricate design, the epitaph and gravestone should capture the spirit of the deceased.

Funeral insurance could provide assistance for your loved ones when it comes to paying for funeral costs and it could help to reduce the financial stress during a difficult time. Consider comparing a range of funeral insurance policies with Choosi. Find out more about funeral insurance today.