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When you are at a loss for words after the death of a parent, knowing what to write on a headstone can be very hard. A common scenario faced by grieving sons and daughters is deciding on headstone inscriptions for parents. This is the case when each parent is eventually laid to rest in adjacent burial plots that share a double grave marker.
While standard wording will include details such as the name of the deceased and relevant dates, picking an epitaph or headstone inscriptions for both parents requires more consideration. Ideally, you should pick something that commemorates the memory of your mother and father while celebrating their unique personalities. This article lists a range of inspiration when choosing what to write.
Advice on Headstone Inscriptions for Parents
At face value, picking headstone verses for parents seems simple enough. However, family members often clash on opinions as any wording will form a lasting tribute to your loved ones. Take note of the following tips before committing to an inscription so you get it right the first time:
- The size of your headstone or marker will dictate how many characters can be used. Ensure that your monument provider confirms this upfront
- If you are set on a particular font size or engraving style, then this may also impact the maximum wording that is able to fit on a headstone. Any images or symbols used in the design will further reduce free space
- Each letter is priced at roughly $20 to engrave and this adds up quickly. If you are concerned about the cost of the headstone then opt for shorter epitaphs
- Keep it simple. The headstone will detail inscriptions for your parent’s names, birth dates, and death dates, so any extra text may cause the marker to look cluttered. Some providers offer design mock-up software you should use to visualize the end product
- Cemeteries often have rules for different sections (e.g. headstones within some Catholic burial grounds must quote biblical passages only). Check if there are restrictions before you start drafting epitaph ideas for your parents
- Take your time. Don’t feel pressured to commission the headstone straight away. Give yourself the headspace to process your grief. Many markers aren’t installed or updated until months to a year after a death
- Decide if you would like the inscription to be written in the first person (e.g. a quote from your parents), or for it to speak to someone (e.g. here lies a beloved mother and daughter)
- Ask for input. Once you’ve settled on a few options, speak to those closest to your parents. They can help to choose an epitaph that best reflects your parents
- While not directly related to wording, it is important to note which side each parent will be buried. Standard practice is for the cemetery to bury husbands on the south side of a burial plot, with their wives on the north. Ensure you check well in advance as you don’t want an expensive headstone engraved on the wrong side!
- If you are trying to manage the cost of engraving, some creative options for inscriptions are to use headstone accessories instead (see ideas below):
Heart-Shaped Memory Stone for Mom
Light Your Way Memorial Garden Stone
Types Of Headstone Inscriptions For Parents
You are not limited to one approach when deciding on headstone epitaphs for parents. Walk around a cemetery and you’ll find many variations, with modern inscriptions for mum and dad taking the following forms:
Descriptive Headstone Inscriptions for Parents
A beloved mother and father at rest
Here lies a beloved mother, wife, daughter, etc.
Here lies a beloved husband, father, son, etc.
Scholar, Professor, Leader, Friend
Loving and so loved husband and wife
Here lies a (insert occupation)
Married (insert number of years)
Parents of (insert names)
Loving Parents of (insert number) children, grandparents to many
Happily married for X years with X children and X grandchildren
Single Line Headstone Inscriptions for Parents
A love without end
A love, true and constant
A treasured life together
Always in our hearts
Always together, never apart, joined as one heart
Always with us
Angels shining in heaven
Beautiful souls reunited
Beloved and dear in life, in death they are not divided
Beloved by all who knew them
Beloved by family, cherished by friends
Dearly beloved mom & dad
Death cannot part them
Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened
Forever in our hearts
Forever together, mom & dad
God did not make earthy ties so strong to break them in eternity
Gone but not forgotten
Goodnight and God bless you
Great love lives on
I love you
Left the world a better place
Life is not forever, love is
Love is eternal
Loving & loved
Loving mother and father
Missed by all
Missed with a grief beyond tears
Mutual love, the crown of all our bliss
Not gone but walk within you
Now protecting us from above
Ours is love everlasting
Safely home, hand in hand
See you on the other side of the stars
Step softly, angels lie here
The song ended but the melody lingers on
Their love and tenderness touched our hearts
Their love was a blessing
There are no goodbyes for us
They lived, laughed, loved & left
They loved God, family, & their friends
Those we love don’t go away, they walk beside us every day
Too well loved to ever be forgotten
Treasured memories of our dear parents
Until we meet again
We lived together in happiness and rest here in peace
You are loved beyond words and missed beyond measure
You will forever be my always
Your love and kindness will never be forgotten
Your love will light the way
Your smiles, love & hearts will be forever missed
Bible Verses for Headstones for Parents
And so we shall be forever with the lord. (Thessalonians 4:17)
As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart. (Proverbs 27:19)
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see god. (Matthew 5:8)
Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)
Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. (John 14:1)
For of such is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 19:14)
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12:13)
For with thee is the fountain of life: in the light shall we see light. (Psalm 36:9)
He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. (Isaiah 40:29)
He heals the broken in heart, and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3)
He that believeth in the son hath everlasting life. (John 3:16)
He who believes has everlasting life. (John 6:47)
I rejoice in thy salvation. (1 Samuel 2:1)
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you. (Philippians 1:3)
In the hand of God. (Ecclesiastes 9:1)
Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house. (Psalm 26:8)
Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13)
Many waters cannot quench love. (Song of Solomon 8:7)
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)
Sleep on now and take your rest. (Matthew 26:45)
The father is in me, and I in him. (John 10:38)
The Lord watch between me and thee when we are absent one from another. (Genesis 31:49)
Thy remembrance shall endure into all generations. (Psalm 102)
Whither thou goest, I will go. (Ruth 1:16)
Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor. (Proverbs 21:21)
Song Quote Headstone Inscriptions for Parents
“And I’ll wait for you…should I fall behind wait for me.” ― Bruce Springsteen
“And the Lord asks me what I did with my life, I will say I spent it with you.” ― Whitney Houston
“And when you smile, the whole world stops and stares for a while.” ― Bruno Mars
“Because being with you makes perfect sense.” ― Tim McGraw
“But everything I have to give, I’ll give to you.” ― Ray Lamontagne
“‘Cause all of me loves all of you.” ― John Legend
“Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you, tomorrow I’ll miss you.” ― Paul McCartney
“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” ― Joni Mitchell
“Excuse me while I kiss the sky.” ― Jimi Hendrix
“God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you.” ― Rascal Flatts
“God only knows what I’d be without you.” ― The Beach Boys
“How sweet it is to be loved by you.” ― James Taylor
“I did it my way.” ― Jacques Revaux
“I gave her my heart but she wanted my soul.” ― Bob Dylan
“I have loved you for a thousand years. I’ll love you for a thousand more.” ― Christina Perri
“I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will be as one.” ― John Lennon
“I won’t be afraid just as long as you stand, stand by me.” ― Ben E. King
“I’d trade all my tomorrows for one single yesterday.” ― Kris Kristofferson
“Life is like a song.” ― Etta James
“Life with you makes perfect sense. You’re my best friend.” ― Tim McGraw
“Look at the stars, look how they shine for you and everything you do.” ― Coldplay
“My world is a better place because of you.” ― Celine Dion
“Never before has someone been more unforgettable.” ― Nat King Cole
“One love, one heart.” ― Bob Marley
“She is love, and she is all I need.” ― Parachute
“Sometimes it may seem dark, but the absence of the light is a necessary part.” ― Jason Mraz
“Take me to your heart, for it’s there that I belong.” ― Elvis Presley
“When all I need’s a hand to stop the tears from falling, I will find him, I’ll find him next to me.” ― Emili Sandé
“Where it all ends I can’t fathom, my friends. If I knew, I might toss out my anchor.” ― Jimmy Buffett
“You’re the closest to heaven that I’ll ever be.” ― Goo Goo Dolls
Quoted Headstone Inscriptions for Parents
“A father’s goodness is higher than the mountain, a mother’s goodness deeper than the sea.” ― Japanese Proverb
“A parent’s love is whole no matter how many times divided.” ― Robert Brault
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” ― Charles M. Schulz
“Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.” ― Amelia Burr
“Behind every young child who believes in himself is a parent who believed first.” ― Matthew Jacobson
“Death ends a life, not a relationship.” ― Mitch Albom
“Do not fear death so much but rather the inadequate life.” ― Bertolt Brecht
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” — Dr. Seuss
“Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.” ― Thomas Moore
“I don’t think of all the misery, but of all the beauty that remains.” ― Anne Frank
“I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you.” ― Roy Croft
“If I know what love is, it is because of you.” ― Herman Hesse
“If I never see you again I will always carry you.” ― Charles Bukowski
“If life must not be taken too seriously, then so neither must death” — Samuel Butler
“It is not length of life, but depth of life.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Life is made of ever so many partings welded together.” ― Charles Dickens
“Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.” ― Isaac Asimov
“Like a bird singing in the rain, let grateful memories survive in time of sorrow.” ― Robert Louis Stevenson
“Love is a friendship set to music.” — Joseph Campbell
“Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.” ― Aristotle
“Love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.” ― Kahlil Gibran
“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” ― Albert Einstein
“Parents aren’t the people you come from. They’re the people you want to be, when you grow up.” ― Jodi Picoult
“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” ― Mother Teresa
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart.” ― Helen Keller
“The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.” ― Audrey Hepburn
“The pain passes, but the beauty remains.” — Henri Mattise
“There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
“Those we love and lose are always connected by heartstrings into infinity.” ― Terri Guillemets
“To hold, you must first open your hand. Let go.” ― Tao Te Ching
“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” — Thomas Campbell
“To me you are perfect.” ― Love Actually
“Together with you is my favorite place to be.” ― Unknown
“True love stories never have endings.” ― Richard Bach
“Unable are the loved to die. For love is immortality.” ― Emily Dickinson
“Where there is love there is life.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” ― Mae West
Hobby Based Headstone Inscriptions for Parents
At choir practice
Birdwatching from above
Cycling on the clouds
Done with catching cod and gone to meet our God
Gardening in heaven
Golfing on heaven’s greens
I’d rather be (insert hobby)
Out hunting with angels
Watching football from the front row
Weeding in heaven
Humorous Headstone Inscriptions for Parents
Are you happy now?
At least we’re warm
Damn it’s dark down here
Did you put the toilet seat down?
Don’t laugh you’re next
Don’t make us come up there
Finally able to get some sleep
For a good time dig here
Free at last from the grandkids
Gone at last
Here lies my husband. Now I know where he is at night
I was hoping for a pyramid
If you can read this, you are standing on our stomachs
If you’re reading this you desperately need a hobby
It does my heart a world of good to see you in a box of wood
Jesus called and we answered
Let ‘er rip
No mourning please at our request
No one should brave the underworld alone
Now we know something you don’t
Pardon us for not rising
Raised 4 beautiful daughters with only one bathroom
Ran with scissors
Reincarnating, be right back
Sucks to be us
The kids drove us to our graves
The shells are here but the nuts are gone
There goes the neighborhood
We finally found a place to part in (insert suburb)
We have nothing further to say
We’re just resting our eyes
You win some, you lose some
Non-text Headstone Inscriptions for Parents
Sometimes the best way to memorialize your loved ones is through an image or symbol. Consider adding a framed photo or a laser-etched portrait of your parents. Simple wording can be added to this for more significance. The use of symbols also conveys greater meaning, with some popular choices for couples including:
Angel – Messenger between God and man
Butterflies – Rebirth
Calla lily – Marriage and majestic beauty
Champagne flutes – Toast to marriage
Circles – Eternity
Clasped hands – Unity in life and death
Crosses – Christian faith
Daffodil – Love and hope
Doves – Peace and spiritual messengers
Family monograms – Unity and ancestral ties
Flamed candle – Eternal life
Fleur-de-Lis (stylized lily) – Intense love and devotion
Gates – Passage into the afterlife or heaven
Hearts – Love and family
Horse – Generosity and courage
Infinity – Everlasting
Ivy – Fidelity and friendship
Moss – Maternal love
Oaktree – Strength
Rose – Unfailing love and beauty
Trees – Eternal life and protection
Tulip – Declaration of love
Wedding rings – Matrimony
Woodbine – Paternal love
Personal or Quoted Headstone Inscriptions for Parents
Another way to honor your parents is to pick an epitaph that is personal to them. This can include words or common phrases that your mother and father always said, or even a line from their wedding vowels or favorite song. The possibilities here are endless and up to you.
Headstone Inscription FAQs
How long does it take to get a headstone engraved?
The timing of headstone engraving will depend on the technique used and your monument provider’s backlog of work. Hand-carving with a craftsman is typically the longest at 2 to 4 months, followed by sandblasted engraving at 1 to 2 months. Laser-etching is the fastest method as this is completed by a machine.
Can you match the original engraving on a double headstone?
This is often the case when a double headstone needs to be updated once the other half of a couple or parent dies. Depending on how long it has been since the original epitaph was engraved, environmental wear means that added wording will not be an exact match initially. Try to engage the same headstone manufacturer to add the inscription as they may be able to use the same craftsman or technique.
Can you fix engraving mistakes on a headstone?
Whether it is possible depends largely on the engraving technique used and size of the mistake. If it is a small misspelling, then craftsmen may be able to fix it by engraving over the design or even sanding and smoothing over it. Where the mistake is too big to change, then you may need to cover it with a plaque or fork out to replace the headstone.
What headstone engraving technique lasts the longest?
The laser-etching technique is typically the most durable and resistant to weather. This is because the inscription is cut by a machine that enables all text and imagery to sit at the same depth.
Why is there a cemetery charge to add engraving to a headstone?
Often known as an “inscription permit fee”, this will cover administrative and supervision expenses incurred by the cemetery. Staff have to review any added engraving to ensure that it adheres to headstone standards. The cemetery will also charge a fee to allow the monument provider or engraver to perform the work onsite.
- Rest in Peace.
- In Loving Memory.
- Until We Meet Again.
- A Life Measured in Memories.
- Beloved Mother/Father, Wife/Husband, and Friend.
- Gone But Never Forgotten.
- A Lifetime of Laughter and Love.
- Friend to Many, Stranger to None.
- He was beloved in life. ...
- He had kind words for everyone. ...
- To those who loved him, his memory never grows old. ...
- A loving father and husband. ...
- The world is a better place because he was here. ...
- The world's loss was Heaven's gain. ...
- His true wealth was in his kind heart.
- Treasured by family and friends.
- Here lies a beloved friend.
- Always loved. ...
- In loving memory of.
- He/she walked in beauty.
- Our lives were better because of her/his presence.
- We will meet again, one day.
- A shining star, forever in our hearts.
- Choosing the Words. You want the epitaph to have an impact for those who read it in the future. ...
- Introductory Text. ...
- The Name of Your Loved One. ...
- Birth and Death Dates. ...
- Relationships. ...
- Closing Line.
- “My Jesus, mercy” – Al Capone.
- “The best is yet to come.” – Frank Sinatra.
- “This is the last of Earth! ...
- “Well this was fun, let's do it again sometime.” – Quniaron Bellthing.
- “That's all, folks!” – Mel Blanc.
- “Don't Try” – Charles Bukowski.
- “I am ready to meet my Maker.
- Brainstorm ideas and get feedback. First of all, brainstorm a few ideas and get feedback from other family members. ...
- Give yourself time to think. ...
- Put yourself in your loved one's shoes. ...
- Examine principles, beliefs, and values. ...
- Share the person's legacy. ...
- Keep it short. ...
- Think big picture.
- “In our hearts forever.” ...
- “A mother holds her child's hand for just a short time but holds their heart forever.” ...
- “I will hold you in my heart until I can hold you in heaven.” ...
- “In memory of our dad.” ...
- “Gone yet not forgotten.”
- Always in our thoughts, forever in our hearts.
- Too dearly loved, to be forgotten.
- A gentle man.
- Greatly loved and sadly missed.
- Rest in Peace.
- Sadly missed.
- Gone but not forgotten.
Store-Bought Grave Decorations for Mom
- Artificial floral arrangement. The most common item to leave on a grave is an artificial floral arrangement. ...
- American flag. ...
- Holiday decorations. ...
- Wind chimes. ...
The practice of leaving flowers at graves began thousands of years ago when the ancient Greeks would honor fallen warriors. They believed that if the flowers rooted into the ground and grew from the gravesite, it was a sign that the fallen had found peace.
Unveiling is the name for the ceremonial dedication of the memorial marker or headstone at the grave of a loved one. The chief purpose of dedicating a headstone is to mark the final resting place of the deceased, to honor his or her life, and to serve as a focal point for people's memories through the years.
When it comes to tombstone name etiquette the order of names is generally: First Middle Last nee Maiden name (if applicable). This can be altered to include nicknames as such: First (Nickname) Last or First (Nickname) Middle Last. You can also include the maiden name in brackets like so: First Middle Last [Maiden].