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Inscriptions for Headstones

Inscriptions & epitaphs for headstones and graves, with quotes from poetry, Shakespeare and the Bible

Last updated: 14 June 2023

A cemetery full of headstones with visible inscriptions

If you are writing the words for an inscription on a headstone or grave to commemorate your mother, father, husband, wife, or other close relative or friend, this collection of quotations might provide an appropriate epitaph.

Choosing the inscription for a grave can be a difficult decision, but headstones are not installed until at least several months after the burial, so you can take time to think about wording that would please your loved one. It might be helpful to discuss it with others who were also close to them.

You might prefer a brief epitaph; simply saying that the person who has died was a wonderful spouse, parent, or grandparent, but many people like the inscription to feature words that reflect the personality and beliefs of their loved one.

We have put together a selection of different types of gravestone inscriptions, from short beautiful words for gravestones, to short verses for tombstones and much more besides.

Short Sayings for a Gravestone Inscription

  • A long life well lived.

  • Always together.

  • Always loving, always loved.

  • At peace.

  • At rest.

  • A beloved mother/father/husband/wife.

  • Devoted in love.

  • Finis.

  • Forever in our hearts.

  • Great love lives on.

  • Generous of heart, constant of faith.

  • In loving memory.

  • Loved and remembered.

  • May his/her memory be eternal.

  • Remembered with love.

  • Rest in peace.

  • Together again.

  • Until we are together again.

  • Until we meet again.

Quotations to Inscribe on a Gravestone

Inscriptions on a headstone should be short, but you can choose an extract from a longer quotation that appeals to you. A longer epitaph can be inscribed on the reverse of the headstone.

In addition to these short quotes, you can also find appropriate words in one of our extensive selection of funeral poems, popular funeral songs or our library of funeral hymns.

Poetry for a Tombstone

‘Here lies a king, that rul'd as he thought fit, the universal monarchy of wit.’ An Elegy upon the Death of the Dean of Paul's, Dr. John Donne, by Thomas Carew

‘Because I could not stop for Death – He kindly stopped for me – The Carriage held but just Ourselves – And Immortality.’ Because I could not stop for Death, by Emily Dickeson

‘Our two souls therefore, which are one,though I must go, endure not yet a breach, but an expansion, like gold to airy thinness beat.’ A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning, by John Donne

‘There may be two or three apples I didn't pick upon some bough. But I am done with apple-picking now.’ After Apple-Picking, by Robert Frost

‘I am the sunlight on ripened grain. I am the gentle autumn rain.’ Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep, by Mary Elizabeth Frye

‘Parting is Hell, but life goes on, so sing as well.’ If I Should Go, by Joyce Grenfell

‘And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride, in her sepulchre there by the sea— in her tomb by the sounding sea.’ Annabel Lee, by Edgar Alan Poe

‘Miss me a little, but not for long, and not with your head bowed low, remember the love that once we shared, miss me, but let me go.’ Let Me Go, by Christina Rossetti

‘You must not shut the night inside you, but endlessly in light the dark immerse. A tiny lamp has gone out in my tent – I bless the flame that warms the universe.’ Songs of the Death of Children, by Friedrich Rückert

‘Peace, peace! He is not dead, he doth not sleep, he hath awaken'd from the dream of life.’ Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats, by Percy Bysshe Shelley

‘Here he lies where he longed to be; home is the sailor, home from the sea, and the hunter home from the hill.’ Requiem, by Robert Louis Stevenson

Shakespeare Verses for a Gravestone

‘Thou know'st 'tis common; all that lives must die, passing through nature to eternity.’ Hamlet

‘This above all; to thine own self be true.’ Hamlet

‘Death lies on her, like an untimely frost, upon the sweetest flower of all the field.’ Romeo and Juliet

‘Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow.’ Romeo and Juliet

‘Fear no more the heat o' the sun, nor the furious winter's rages; thou thy worldly task hast done, home art gone, and ta'en thy wages.’ Cymbeline

‘He gave his honours to the world again, his blessed part to heaven, and slept in peace.’ Henry VI, Part 3

‘Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.’ All’s Well That End’s Well

‘Good night, sweet friend: thy love ne'er alter, till thy sweet life end.’ Midsummer’s Night’s Dream

‘Though last, not least in love!’ Julius Caesar

‘Love that well which thou must leave ere long.’ Richard III

‘We are such stuff as dreams are made on and our little life is rounded with a sleep.’ Tempest

‘All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts.’ As You Like It

‘And all in war with Time for love of you, as he takes from you, I engraft you new.’ Sonnet 15

‘So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, so long lives this and this gives life to thee.’ Sonnet 18

‘If you read this line, remember not, the hand that writ it; for I love you so, that I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot, if thinking on me then should make you woe.’ Sonnet 71

‘Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks, within his bending sickle's compass come; love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom.’ Sonnet 116

Bible Verses for Headstones

These quotations are from different versions of the Bible.

‘The Lord watch between me and thee when we are absent one from another.’ Genesis 31:49

‘The Lord bless you and keep you.’ Numbers 6:24

‘I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.’ Psalm 23

‘Lord, I have loved the habitation of Thy house.’ Psalm 26

‘I sought the Lord and He heard me and delivered me from all my fears.’ Psalm 34

‘I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.’ Psalm 55

‘Thy remembrance shall endure into all generations.’ Psalm 102

‘The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.’ Psalm 203

‘As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.’ Proverbs 27:19

‘A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.’ Proverbs 16.9

‘Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honour.’ Proverbs 21:21

‘For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.’ Ecclesiastes 3:1

‘Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death.’ Song of Solomon 8:6

This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ Matthew 3:17

‘He that endureth to the end shall be saved.’ Matthew 10:22

‘Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

‘The righteous shall go into life eternal.’ Matthew 25:46

‘Sleep on now, and take your rest.’ Matthew 26:45

‘He shall receive in the world to come eternal life.’ Mark 10:30

‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’ Luke 12:13

‘Whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.’ John 3:15

‘He that believeth in the Son hath everlasting life.’ John 3:16

‘In my Father’s house.’ John 14:2

‘All things work together for good to them that love God.’ Romans 8:28

‘Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.’ 2 Corinthians 5:8

‘Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.’ Ephesians 2:10

‘I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.’ Philippians 1:3

‘To live is Christ, and to die is gain.’ Philippians 1:21

‘With Christ, which is far better.’ Philippians 1:23.

‘And so we shall be forever with the Lord.’ Thessalonians 4:17

‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.’ 2 Timothy 4:7

For some more inspiration for gravestone inscriptions, our guide to cemetery symbolism explains the meaning and significance of the most common old and new gravestone symbols that you will find across cemeteries throughout the UK, from angels to stars, and wheat to trees.

Once you have chosen your gravestone inscription, you should also get to know about gravestone maintenence and cleaning. Our guide to grave tending, cleaning gravestones and grave maintenance services when you buy a plot in a cemetery can tell you everything you need to know about keeping the inscription clean for years to come.

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