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What do you write on a father's or husband's headstone?

Choosing the right epitaph for a father's or husband's headstone can seem an impossible task. Trying to capture their strength and humanity in a few words is a huge challenge. Taking your time is the best advice we can offer, but here is a list of ideas that will help.

Gravestone bespoke in slate

Choosing the wording for a father's or husband's headstone can take many months. Looking at lists of epitaphs like this may inspire or guide you. Take your time in choosing the epitaph and remember that sometimes the simple ones can be most powerful. A man's epitaph needs to reflect his character and soul and you will know when you have found the right words.

Here are some suggested epitaphs for a man:

Captain of my soul.

Truly a noble spirit.

Now, Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find. Walt Witman

We who are under the ground
Indians, voyagers and wilderness men
Still breathe the bloom of plants in air
And think of the running sun

And all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side. John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress

Every noble life leaves the fibre of it interwoven for ever in the work of the world. John Ruskin

We loved him dearly.

And Life is all the sweeter that he lived. Gerald Massey

His memory long will live alone in all our hearts. Lord Tennyson

He has outsoared the shadow of our night. John Keats

In the blest kingdoms meek of joy and love.
There entertain him all the Saints above. John Milton

At last he rose, and twitched his mantle blue:
Tomorrow to fresh woods, and pastures new. John Milton

To know him was to love him.

He’s gone: but you can see his tracks still, in the snow of the world. Norman MacCaig

The heights hold peace.

A glittering way he showed them.
Beyond the dim outpost. Thomas Crosland

My second self and best earthly companion. Charlotte Bronte

Home is the sailor
home from the sea
And the hunter
home from the hill. Robert Louis Stevenson

His name is written in letters of love
On the hearts he left at home.

Do noble things not dream of them all day long: And so make life, death, and that vast forever
One grand, sweet song. Charles Kingsley

A man who built bridges

I found myself saying goodbye
It was a signal not of a parting
But of a reuniting

His life inspired in me
A joy that shall outlive eternity. Geoffrey Dearmer

I can no longer stay with you, stay with you,
I'll hang my harp on a weeping willow tree,
And may the world go well with thee. (traditional folk song)

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

And so when I remember you I think of all things rich and true.

Faith, family and fortitude.

He deserves Paradise, who makes his companions laugh. The Koran

Fortune pledges things to many,
Guarantees them not to any.
Live for each day, live for the hours,
Since nothing is for always yours. From a tomb in 2nd century Pompeii

In sure and certain hope.


Fly on dear boys from this dark world of strife
On to the land of promise, to eternal life.
They are not dead, such spirits never die,
They are unquenchable, they only sleep. From grave of William McCudden Senior

We asked life of thee and thou has given him life for evermore.

An honest man's the noblest work of God. Alexander Pope

Simply the best.

A gentle man and a gentleman.

I see you dancing, father. Brendan Kennelly

He is the past, present and future. from The Path by Hisham Matar

One of nature’s gentlemen.

Write me as one who loved his fellow men.

What courtesy and gentleness were his,
Our lives for years to come will miss
His sweet serenity.

Life's race well run,
Life's work well done,
Life's victory won,
Now cometh rest. Edward Parker

One of God’s good men.

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He is a presence to be felt and known in darkness and in light.

He hath awakened from the dream of life. Shelley

He hath outsoar'd the shadow of our night. Shelley

I swear he is true-hearted; and a soul
None better in my kingdom. Shakespeare

My barque is wafted to the strand
By breath Divine and on the helm
there rests a hand other than mine. Henry Alford

In every breeze.

Happy Warrior. Wordsworth

Here he lies where he longed to be

And so when I remember you I think of all things rich and true.

A fine man who made a difference to so many.

He gave us the meaning of humanity.

A constant husband.

A valiant man.

A true individual is never forgotten.

Who loved this place together with his darling.

All is not finished.

He who kisses the joy as it flies, lives in eternity’s sunrise. William Blake

Lived life to the full.

Loving, loyal and full of laughter.

A kind gentle man

Remembered with love
For the person he was
And the good that he did

A very special man.

Loved and remembered.

Thou dost keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.

May the Lord bless him and keep him.

May there be
no sadness of farewell
when I put out to sea

Sunset and evening star
and one clear call for me
When I have crossed the bar. Lord Tennyson

Need help with anything?

Please feel free to contact Fergus by email or telephone if you need any further advice.

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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.