Choosing beautiful words to put on a headstone is one of the most important stage of choosing a headstone. But what will be approved by the vicar? Here I share a list of epitaphs suggested by one of the dioceses themselves.
We all want to choose the most beautiful words to put on a headstone. However, when choosing an epitaph for a Churchyard memorial, we need to make sure that it will be approved by the vicar. There are quite strict rules and regulations set out by each individual Diocese which you can usually find it you search for Churchyard Regulations followed by the Diocese on Google.
We recently had a client who was not allowed to include a poem on the back of a headstone because it was “not in keeping with Christian views of the afterlife”. The poem was not in any way against Christian views and our client was understandably upset. This is an exception rather than the rule, but it shows how subjective the interpretation of the regulations can be.
Unfortunately, if a vicar does not support the application, there is little chance of getting the inscription approved.
As a result of our recent communication with the relevant Diocese on the rejected poem, we were sent a list of suggested epitaphs, compiled by the Diocese itself. I include the list below, for those of you who would like to feel confident that their chosen epitaph will be approved by their vicar. Even for this list though there is no guarantee, as every vicar can use their own discretion, and again, every Diocese has its own regulations!
The simple and well known:
In loving memory
Rest in peace
Peace, perfect peace
I know that my Redeemer lives
Forever with the Lord
The best is yet to be Robert Browning
All shall be well (and all manner of things shall be well)
Julian of Norwich
Our loss, God’s gain
Of your charity, pray for the soul of....
From Scripture and Hymns:
Abide with me
By His grace we are healed
We feebly struggle, they in Glory shine
Till in Heaven we take our place
In God’s house for evermore
Through Grace we are saved
Underneath are His everlasting arms
Though we die, yet shall we live
The Lord is my Shepherd
Be still and know that I am God
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Forgive our foolish ways
Lost in wonder, love and praise
And in dying we are born to eternal life
And in God’s house for evermore
My dwelling place shall be
Make them to be numbered with thy saints
For a baby’s death:
Run with the wind and play with the stars, Little One
This little babe was lent not given,
To bud on earth and bloom in Heaven
Our child, our love
Jesus called a little child [unto Him]
Making it personal:
A gentle man; he lived at…..
She served God right merrily
Her end was peace
Transplanted to God’s garden
She combined beauty with tenderness and wit
She lived her life with joy
He ended well
Wife and lover, friend and mother
The link between the deceased and the community:
Man of integrity
He worked all his life at Merrow Farm, next to this church
Mayor of Tangmere, the 4th generation to be buried in this parish
For upwards of 30 years a most respectable butcher in Springfield
More adventurous: from the poets:
In my end is my beginning T.S. Eliot
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me Scott Holland
I am but waiting for you Scott Holland
And soonest our best men with thee do go John Donne
So the darkness shall be the light,
And the stillness the dancing T.S. Eliot
Pray for me, as I will for thee,
That we may merrily meet in Heaven Thomas Moore
That best portion of a good man’s life,
His little, nameless unremembered acts
of kindness and of love William Wordsworth
Of your charity, pray for the soul(s) of….
Our loss, Gods gain
We cannot, Lord, thy purpose see
As all is well that’s done by Thee
God takes our loved ones from our homes
but never from our hearts
Our Love Stevie Smith
In a dark time, the eye begins to see Theodore Roethke
Trust show the way Hildegarde of Bingen
Remember N, on pilgrimage
The following are suggestions for working on central memorials in Cremated Remains Areas. Some may be suitable for individual headstones:
The souls of the righteous are in God’s hand
They are at peace. Wisdom 3
The eternal God is our refuge
And underneath are His everlasting arms. Deuteronomy 33
I will see you again
And you will be joyful. John 16
My peace I leave with you. John 14
Their bodies are at peace
And their names live forever. Ecclesiasticus 44
Nothing can separate us from the love of
God in Christ. Romans 8
We will be with the Lord forever. I Thessalonians 4
We will see God as He is. I John 3
Into your hands I commend my spirit
For you have redeemed me, O God of truth. Psalm 31
Today you will be with me in Paradise. Luke 23
I am the resurrection and the life. John 11
The Lord is my shepherd
Therefore can I lack nothing. Psalm 23
God will show us the path of life
In His presence is the fullness of joy. Psalm 16
To live in the heart of God
Is not to die.
At peace with Jesus.
In the name of Jesus
Befriended by his saints
Aided by his angels
May you rest this day.
May heaven open wide before you
To see Christ and his sunlit company.
May you rest in peace and in fulfillment
May you rest in the love of God.
May you run straight home into God’s embrace
Go safely, go dancing, go running home.
Go on your way dear soul,
To love, to light, to life eternal.
Held in the hollow of God’s hands.
Reference: Diocese of Chelmsford “Monuments and Headstones in Churchyards” revised 2017. Appendix 1.
Fergus created Stoneletters Studio in 2003, after training at the Kindersley Workshop. He is a member of the prestigious Master Carver's Association.