How do you decide what to write on a headstone?

(13 Posts)
allatsea Tue 26-Feb-08 20:39:14

Just over a year ago my Dad died suddenly . He and I were very close and I am still lost. I lost one of my closest friends and my pillar. Sadly he also left me to care for my mother who was terminally ill with cancer. She died 12 weeks later. A year has past since Mum died and I still think about her and my dad constantly every day. My brother, sister and I have decided that it's time to erect a headstone - but what do you say? I am desperate to write something that expresses how unique they were, how utterly irreplaceable. My sister wants something traditional and selected some phrases from other headstones in the same cemetery. I have never had to do anything like this before and I don't know who to turn to for advice. Can anyone offer any insight or advice about how to do this? I really don't want to end up with something that I will regret

OP’s posts: |
sushistar Tue 26-Feb-08 20:40:16

So sorry for your loss sad

singyswife Tue 26-Feb-08 20:42:32

Sorry for your loss. This is going to sound bizzare but why dont you google it. I lost my gran over xmas and my grandad has recently been googling headstone (he is a hip grandad) words. He found some lovely wording and has now ordered the headstone. He also asked the undertaker to give him some suggestions.

Slouchy Tue 26-Feb-08 20:45:13

No advice, allatsea, but I just wanted to say what a horrible time you had and are prob still having. Sympathy here.

MrsMattie Tue 26-Feb-08 20:50:45

I'm sorry to hear of the loss of your parents sad.

When my uncle died very suddenly and tragically a few years ago his family had a disagreement about what should go on his headstone. In the end, they solved it by putting traditional words on his headstone (to please his parents and older relatives) and then his children and nieces/nephews had a lovely plaque erected at the foot of the grave with a poem and some personal words from them engraved on it. Looks lovely and means you aren't under pressure to think about what you want to say immediately. the stone can go up asap, and the plaque/s can go up whenever you want.

GerrardWinstanley Tue 26-Feb-08 20:53:34

Googling is a good idea or get a book or poems for the bereaved.

Are there any stories or poems from you childhood that you could quote from?

Califrau Tue 26-Feb-08 20:54:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

allatsea Tue 26-Feb-08 21:03:25

Thanks - I am googling and have found some ideas that aren't too saccharin or so broad that they might be about anyone. I like the idea of a plaque at the foot of the grave, I'll have to check that they are permitted at the cemetery.
Nearly everything that we've had to do over the last year has been made more difficult because the views of my brother and I are polls apart from those of my sister. I can imagine that we could let her have exactly what she wanted on the headstone and she would reject the idea of the plaque because nobody else had one.
I keep asking myself who the words on the headstone are for? Maybe I have put too much pressure on myself hoping to encapsulate my parents in a couple of phrases, but if I don't try I feel as if I had let them down just because it was hard - does that make sense?

OP’s posts: |
GerrardWinstanley Tue 26-Feb-08 21:18:25

It must be so difficult to agree on something. I hate the poem on my dad's headstone but my mum picked it and it was what she wanted. My sisters and I would never have agreed on one. When I go to visit his grave I often have a raised eyebrow, what-was-she-thinking-of, joke with him about the sugary sweet religiousness of it all.

Is your sister very different from you and your brother or is it just she feels a headstone ought to go up now whatever it says? A lot of people, I have found, think it is indecent if more than a year passes without a headstone beong erected - almost as if they feel the grave looks neglected.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that even if the inscription ends up being something which makes you cringe each time you see it that can be OK, good even. Your mum and dad knew each of their children were different and would love you for letting your sister have her own way whatever the words.

In fact for my mum I think I would choose -

We couldn't agree on the words to put here:
Because you taught us all to speak our own mind.

Of course, when the time comes I will probably agree to some Westlife lyric <sigh>

splishsplosh Tue 26-Feb-08 21:30:17

Allatsea,

I'm sorry to hear what you're going through.

My mum died just over a year ago, and although she as cremated, we decided to have a memorial stone in the cemetry. It's taken us a year to finally come up with some words we're all happy with. I think the trouble is being limited to a few lines, when really you want to say so much.

But like you say - who is it for? It's hard not to see it as a message to your parents, and you want them to be satisfied with it. I know I can never honour my mum and what she meant to me in just a couple of lines.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this ramble - I think you just have to try and find something that resonates / echoes at least the core of your feelings. The rest they'll know somehow

allatsea Tue 26-Feb-08 21:48:50

It would be lovely to be able to use your suggestions GerrardWinstanley -

I don't think my sister is motivated by putting it up right now - I think that my brother and I think that it is a little disrespectful to leave just the small wooden cross for so long. Since my sister lives closer to the cemetery than the rest of us they she thinks that her views carry more weight since she'll visit the grave more than me or my brother.

Having spent my life trying to not disappoint my parents it seems hard doing it now by compromising over the words and my heart believes that they'll see all that we've done over the last year and be proud. If I ever had an important decision to make I'd check it with M&D just to make sure that I wasn't completely on the right track - now there isn't anyone to check with and the three of us had such different relationships with M&D that we may be trying to express very different things. Sometimes everything just seems so hard

OP’s posts: |
GerrardWinstanley Tue 26-Feb-08 22:15:57

you could have the headstone put up now and have an inscription added later?

No one will judge how you feel about your parents on the basis of the headstone inscription. If you feel you cannot express what they meant to you in the words on their headstone, and how could you, perhaps you could find another way to commemorise them so the headstone matters less.

It is not disrespectful to leave the cross there alone. You still have no words for what you feel. Perhaps silence is best for a while longer.

Rubyrubyruby Wed 27-Feb-08 11:47:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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