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What do particular images on a headstone mean?

What memorial would honour the memory of your loved one eternally? It’s hard to sum up a lifetime of a person in words and sometimes a picture or symbol can be worth more than a thousand words so, what symbols could you use for your loved one? If you require some further help, give MMS Memorials a call on 07 3265 5433. 

Let's decipher the hidden meanings behind symbols and  images on headstones!  

Headstone symbols

What is a headstone?

A custom headstone is a beautiful way to commemorate the life of your loved one. With an image that has special meaning to you, their memory will be preserved for years to come.

Basically, a headstone (usually made from granite) is placed over a grave. Headstones are placed on a grave to easily identify the individual who has been laid to rest. The general information or inscription on a headstone is the name, DOB and date the person passed away. The inscription can be as brief or detailed as desired.

Often a quote or saying is added for example “Here lies Bob, loving father, husband, etc”. Some people like to add a verse, often this is one from the bible, a song or a poem. If you have ever stopped to have a look at what is engraved on headstones, besides names and dates, you may not realise, at first glance, that there is often a symbol or image included. 

Inscriptions for headstones can include:

  • Quotes
  • Personal messages
  • Relevant sayings
  • Verses
  • Images or symbols

Headstone images or symbols and their meanings

Whether it’s an animal, a religious symbol, or something completely unique, MMS memorials can explain what they mean. This way, you can choose whatever image holds personal significance for you and your loved one. You never know why people choose a certain symbol, but it's usually to give a deeper understanding of the people who are buried.

Here are some symbols you might find on a headstone and a few ideas of what they might mean: 

  • An angel 

Angels found in a cemetery are symbols of spirituality. They guard the deceased and are thought to be messengers between God and man, and are considered the agent of God. 

  • Finger pointing down 

This symbol generally indicates the deceased  person died unexpectedly and suddenly. This can also symbolise God reaching down for the soul of the deceased. 

  • A handshake 

A handshake symbolises a farewell and welcoming into the heavenly world. It is often the marking for the final resting place of husbands and wives. It's a symbol showing that even “death do us part” does not sever the marriage bond. 

  • Broken chains

Broken chains represent the life that has ended. The message being conveyed is that death separates us. The circle of life is broken here on earth, but we will be reunited in Heaven. Broken links can mean the severance and subsequent release of the spirit from the body. 

  • A cross with a circle around it

The circle is an ancient symbol of eternity. This symbol is often found on the headstone of a Christian together with a cross. The circle has no beginning and no end and may also symbolise resurrection. 

  • A Cross

Crosses can mean many things. It all depends on religion, as a cross is an enduring symbol or religious faith. When you see a Celtic cross it might mean the person was Celtic or Irish

  • A star 

Stars symbolise hope, dreams and life everlasting and spiritual light. A star is also a symbol of  eternity or immortality and divine guidance. A six sided star or hexagram may symbolise creation, and is found most commonly in Hinduism and eastern religions. For early Christians the five pointed star or pentagram represented the five wounds of Christ, as well as good overpowering evil. 

  • A Daffodil

A daffodil will often be the symbol used for the death of a youth, and may signify rebirth and new life. It is also the symbol of love, hope and beauty. 

Collage of headstones symbols

The symbolic importance of a memorial grows as birthdays and anniversaries pass. A memorial is a great way to commemorate a life and offer a place for reflection. Contact our team at MMS Memorials for assistance on 07 3265 5433  with ideas to create a beautiful piece to remember.