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  3. What is an Epitaph?

What is an Epitaph?

When it comes to writing an epitaph to commemorate a loved one, an abundance of words come to mind, but how can you choose the select few to memorialise in stone? 

An epitaph is defined as “a brief literary piece on a tombstone commemorating the deceased person buried there” or simply put, an inscription on a headstone. 

The epitaph can be a synopsis of your loved one’s life, a saying to capture their essence and spirit or a poem of commemoration. 

Epitaph engraving for husband and wife

How to write an epitaph

A customary epitaph has 3 main parts:

  • The deceased’s full name
  • The dates they were born and when they passed away
  • A short message, quote or poem about, or to honour, the deceased

The first 2 parts are the easy bits. It's the message that many consider difficult to formulate. The permanence of the epitaph on a headstone creates pressure and anguish over making it special and personal, but you don’t need this additional anguish.

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Reflect on their life

The most significant aspect of an epitaph is that it should be meaningful and memorable for your loved one so it doesn’t have to be creative or convoluted. Start the process of writing an epitaph by reflecting on the personality, values and achievements of the deceased. 

Gathering the reflections and experiences of those who knew your beloved can provide invaluable insight into crafting an epitaph that captures their spirit. Ask family members, friends, colleagues - anyone whose opinion might offer a different perspective on what made them so special.

Examples of epitaphs


  • In loving memory
  • Here lies
  • With love we remember Joe Bloggs
  • Dedicated to the memory of Jane Doe


  • Beloved wife, mother and grandmother
  • Father to Joe and Jane
  • A doting husband and father
  • Survived by his loving wife and children


  • A lover of travel and adventure
  • A pillar of the community
  • Served her country well
  • A lifelong music maestro

Final line or end statement:

  • Rest in peace, my love
  • Her memory will last forever
  • You will live in our hearts always

If you wish to add a picture or decorative element, read our piece on the meaning of symbols and images on headstones here.

Epitaph on headstone

Professional and compassionate stonemasons

Writing an epitaph is a timeless act of commemoration and respect that can be shared for centuries to come. While crafting the perfect words may seem daunting, enlisting family and friends in the process will ensure your loved one's legacy lives on beyond their lifetime.

MMS Memorial are your Brisbane stonemason that you can trust. If you would like to discuss an epitaph or any aspects of a memorial or stone masonry, call our friendly team on 07 3265 5433 or fill out our online enquiry form.