What to put on a headstone

July 7, 2020

Flowers next to headstone

When you have lost a loved one, it can be a difficult decision to know how to commemorate them. If you have had a headstone made, it can also be a challenge to decide what to put on it that is a fitting tribute to the one you loved and their amazing life. Here, we discuss what options you have and how you can decide what message to immortalise. 

How to choose an inscription 

To start with, what exactly can you put on a headstone? There are some restrictions and it is important that you understand what these are before you choose your message. You may want to check with your local parish for their specific restrictions as they can vary depending on location. It is common that the message you choose is not tactless, they are simple, dignified and reverent. Although people are encouraged to have a brief epitaph or religious inscription or alternatively a hymn we understand many people are not religious and will want to choose something else. 

Before you make a decision, you may want to spend some time consulting other family members first. Share your ideas with each other and together you should be able to come up with a fitting tribute to your loved one. 


One of the most common inscriptions on headstones is an epitaph. An epitaph is a phrase or a few words that are a simple statement by which a person will be remembered. Here are some examples that are often used  

  • Missed by all  
  • In loving memory  
  • Until we meet again 
  • Gone by not forgotten  
  • Beloved by all who knew him 
  • Rest in peace 
  • Your memory lives on 

The beautiful thing about these epitaphs is that they tend to be loving, heartfelt and simple words that are sensitive and concise. 

Of course, you don’t have to only choose an epitaph. Some struggle to find just a few words that say what they want. There are many other options to choose from which we discuss below  

Biblical scriptures 

It is common for people to pay tribute to their loved one’s faith. If they had a favourite verse, this can be inscribed on their headstone. Alternatively, you can choose one that you think is appropriate. Here are a few examples of psalms and biblical quotes that have been used on headstones 

  • For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also – Luke 12:13 
  • God is love and those who live in love live in God and God lives in them- 1 John 4.16 
  • Love never fails –  1 Corinthians 13 
  • Under the shadow of thy wings – Psalm 36:7 
  • Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you – John 14:27 
  • Sleep on now and take your rest- Matthew 26: 45 


You do need to only refer to religious texts when it comes to quotes. Many people choose a famous quote or even a personal quote that the deceased said during their lifetime or from a family or loved one. Your loved one may have even chosen a quote that they wanted to be placed on their headstone in advance. The quote may not even make a lot of sense. Some people choose to have a cryptic message that only those closest to the deceased would understand. This is an extremely personal and unique option that could be explored. 

Song Lyrics 

Another popular option is to have song lyrics inscribed on a headstone. If your loved one had a favourite song, are there any lyrics that are appropriate for a headstone? If there are, this could be a great way to remember them as the lyrics will hold a lot of meaning. 


Finally, it is not just words that you can consider. Images can also be used to add extra meaning and element to their tribute. From hearts symbolising love to birds symbolising freedom or musical notes representing their love of music, the options are vast. 

No matter what you choose to have inscribed on a headstone, ensure it holds a special meaning. Having something that is a clear depiction of your loved one’s memory but remains tasteful and in line with regulations, helps get some of their personality into their tribute. Although they are only words, they hold a lot of meaning and importance for years to come. These words can help to mourn friends and family and it is an important decision. One that is not to be made lightly and should involve a lot of thought and care.  

If you are still struggling to know what to write on a headstone then please contact us. As funeral directions, we are here to advise you in any way that we can. We encourage you to think about your experiences and memories of your loved ones and hopefully help you decide which words are the best.