Tombstone Sayings and Epitaphs

As long as people could write, they have been memorializing the dead with epitaphs -- short texts, verses, or quotations which reflect the person's beliefs, accomplishments or individual spirit.

Poets and other famous people, especially writers, often dictate what they would like on their stones, and those words were often their own.

Sometimes the messages added to a grave marker are more for the visitors than the departed. They serve as reminders to us all that the living will themselves join the dead. As such, the message might remind us to live well, or suffer punishment.

"Epitaph" comes from the Greek, and literally means "on the gravestone," so, anything inscribed on a grave marker could be referred to as an epitaph.

While famous and important figures were, in the beginning, the only persons who could afford inscriptions on their graves, such personalization became increasingly affordable. In the late 19th century, many people chose from a stock of verses, both biblical and poetic, to place on their grave markers. You will find these repeated in cemeteries all over the country, sometimes with couplets removed, or altered in minor ways.

Common 19th Century Verses

A precious one from us is gone
A voice we loved is silent
A place is vacant in our home
Which never can be filled

Weep not for me my parents dear,
I am not dead but sleeping here
I was not yours but God's alone
Who loved me best and took me home
Remember friends as you pass by
As you are now so once was I
As I am now you so must be
Prepare for death and follow me

Farewell my wife(or husband) and children all
From you a father(or wife, or son) Christ doth call
Mourn not for me it is in vain to call me to your sight again

Asleep in Jesus blessed sleep
From which none ever wake to weep

Now loving wife my life is past
You loved me clearly to the last
Mourn not for me nor sorrow take
But love your Savior for my sake

Weep not for me my darling wife, and you my children dear
God thought best to take my life just in my blooming year

Budded on earth to bloom in heaven
(Most commonly used for children, or very young people.)

Tis hard to break the tendercords
When love has bound the heart
Tis hard, so hard, to speak the words, we must forever part

Bible verses

The most common verses I've seen in cemeteries are listed below, however, people have been asking me for more verses lately, Leading to the following article Inspirational Bible Passages for Tombstone Inscriptions.

"Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God"

"In my fathers house are many mansions"


See Ya on a Horse

Love you more than sugar

Heaven needed some "ha has"


One of the most famous epitaphs is that of Mel Blanc, famous as the voice of thousands of characters, including Porky Pig, who said, as does Mr. Blanc's stone, "That's all Folks."

Another world famous grave inscription is that of Alexander the Great. "A tomb now suffices him for whom the world was not enough"

Appearing all over the world, in at least two different languages is the famous epitaph "I told you I was sick."

From the Tomb of the Unknowns, in Arlington, VA "Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God."

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