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12 May 2014
The Headstone Guide

Dying Wishes

Dying Matters commissions new study which shows that half of all couples do not know how their partner would like to depart this world.

​In an article today in The Times, new research by the organisation Dying Matters reveals that half of all people in couples have no idea how their partner would like to depart the world. Two-thirds of adults have not made a will. Four of five people questioned by Dying Matters said they do not feel comfortable talking about their own demise. This is evident in my experience with the commissioning of a headstone, where many clients do not know what their loved one wanted on the stone.

Once in a blue moon, I am commissioned to make a headstone for a person while they are still alive; usually, it is not something one wishes to think about and discuss - one’s own epitaph, but the wording is often decided with conviction and they usually make the most interesting and strongest inscriptions. The wording for a headstone is normally decided by the family of the deceased for obvious reasons. There are different approaches to choosing the right words; one way is to express one’s love and memory of that person for a purpose for those left behind.

The other way is to find words that express the nature, character or likes of the person the grave marks.

If there are lots of family members to be consulted, it can take months to come up with the right words. In these cases, one cannot list every attribute of the deceased, but there is usually at least one word everyone can agree on. The words will be there for many, many years and cannot be changed, making the decision even harder.

When my mother in law died, we gave her a DIY, or family lead funeral, which was the most beautiful send-off. For a full description of her beautiful DIY funeral read this post.

For inspiration please see my headstones gallery and also my 10 tips for choosing a headstone inscription.

Fergus W
Written by

Fergus Wessel

Designer and letter-carver

Fergus created Stoneletters Studio in 2003, after training at the Kindersley Workshop. He is a member of the prestigious Master Carver's Association.