The inscription is the most important part of any headstone. It's a tribute to the deceased that should summarise their personality and serve as a constant reminder of their life's achievements. Choosing a perfect inscription to eulogise a loved one is never easy, as various factors, such as the material of the stone and your chosen font, are part of your decision.
Choosing a Suitable Font
The largest and most important part of the memorial is the deceased's name. The character count and width of the headstone will have a significant impact on your choice of font. Dates are usually inscribed below in a proportionate, but smaller size. Churchyards may also have their own font requirements.
Traditionally, Roman, Old English and script-like fonts are used. If in doubt, ask your stone mason which fonts are most suitable for your chosen material, as some fonts may require a deeper cut than others. As a general rule of thumb, italics are reserved for bible passages, quotes and poetry, while capitalised bolder text is used for dates and names.
Different types of stone can significantly impact the size and style of lettering. Letters that are carved into marble and painted with enamel will stand out more clearly than letters that are carved into granite. Limestone headstones, on the other hand, often have larger, bolder text due to the fragility of the stone.
Choosing an Epitaph
The epitaph is a phrase that's used to summarise the deceased's life. It is usually placed directly under the name and date and contains information regarding their beliefs and life accomplishments. With the increasing lenience of cemeteries and decreasing focus on religion, people often get creative and write personalised poems or memorable quotes.
It's difficult to summarise somebody with just a few words; therefore, people often find themselves using the same universal phrases: rest in peace, in loving memory of, forever in our thoughts and always remembered. Unless you provide your letter carver with specific instructions, they may carve whatever they feel suitable.
Take your time. When grief is raw it can be difficult to clearly convey your emotions. Most people will wait for 6-12 months before installing a monument; therefore, you shouldn't feel any pressure to place a headstone on the grave.
Try to personalise the inscription. Family members and friends should be able to read it and know exactly who it's describing. Think about wise or interesting quotes the deceased said that influenced your life; take note of their accomplishments; if they were religious, consider writing their favourite bible passage.
If you're at a loss for ideas, read other epitaphs to get some inspiration or seek advice from funeral directors at places like Lee Adam Funeral Services. If you don't feel like you have enough space on the gravestone itself, consider purchasing a bronze plaque to screw on the front. This will give you the option to write a longer passage of text using much smaller lettering.