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Choosing Inscriptions for Headstones

Image of inscription on memorial

What are Inscriptions? 

When you lose a loved one, it can be a difficult decision choosing the right words to put on a headstone. Inscriptions, also commonly referred to as an epitaph, are a short message inscribed on the headstone. They traditionally incorporate the person’s name, birth date and death date. Here at Cope Memorials, we know how difficult it can be to attain exactly what you are looking for, so we’re happy to adapt any inscriptions, allowing you to make it as personal as you’d like. 


The Purpose of a Headstone Inscription

The main purpose of a headstone inscription is to honour your loved one. They remind you of the life that they lived and what they meant to you. If you’re religious, this can be done through a piece of prose or a reference from the Bible. Contrastingly, you can have non-religious poems, lyrics from a song, or you can even make it up from scratch. It’s also vital that we discuss the materials that you choose for your memorial as some work better with bigger, flowing letters which may reduce the number of words able to fit on the headstone.

If you haven’t had requests from your loved one before they pass, it’s advised to take your time when choosing the headstone and inscription. Emotions are understandably heightened during this time and inscriptions are a permanent feature. This time allows your emotions to settle and you can remember your loved one more clearly, resulting in a timeless headstone. 


A Guide on Choosing an Inscription

  • Sometimes, less is more and the fewer words inscribed can really make a lovely tribute. Epitaphs are traditionally short and concise, mostly due to the limited space available on headstones. 


  • Consider whether you want it to be in first, second or third person. Most inscriptions are written in first person (I, we) often coming from a relative, a friend, or the deceased. It’s important to think about whether you’d like the inscription to speak directly to someone, either a passer-by or the loved one themselves. This type of inscription can bring great comfort. 


  • As suggested before, you can take inspiration from anything. Particularly poems, lyrics from their favourite song. It’s also common to choose a snippet from a poem which was read out at their funeral. Most importantly, it’s beneficial to create an uplifting epitaph, if it celebrates their life it’s more likely to bring you peace when you visit. 




Take a look at our ‘inscription ideas’ page where we give several examples of inscriptions. We break it down into sections, making it easier to navigate the order of the inscription. Additionally, you can look at photos of headstones that we have skilfully inscribed. 


Cope Memorials

Choosing the inscription for your loved one can seem daunting but it needn’t be. Here at Cope Memorials, we offer expert advice and can guide you through the process. We’re a family run stonemasons with over 110 years of experience. We pride ourselves on offering our customers an exceptional and considerate service each and every time. You can contact us via our online contact form, or give us a call on 01773 602 187.

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