A headstone is a grave marker containing information about a deceased person. The information typically includes their name, birth, death dates, and sometimes a short message known as an epitaph.
Choosing what goes on a loved one’s headstone can be difficult. It’s a good idea to consider your options carefully before you make any decisions.
When you choose to honor your loved one with a headstone, you have plenty of options to consider. The order of names and dates can be flexible, and you have a wide variety of lettering styles and fonts to work with. However, there are some rules and etiquette to keep in mind when making your decisions.
First, it’s important to remember that this is the last chance you will ever have to celebrate your loved one’s life with a beautiful stone that tells their story and captures their essence. This is why it’s important to take the time and effort needed to choose the right words for their epitaph, to ensure that they reflect the person buried beneath it.
It’s also a good idea to be cautious about the wording you choose for the descriptive line that follows the name and date. This is another area that can easily become cluttered with adjectives and attributes that might not be meaningful or appropriate for your loved one. Instead, try to find a line from a poem, song, scripture, or famous author that has meaning for your family and would have had a special impact on the deceased individual.
The traditional tombstone name etiquette is to list the first name, middle name, and last name nee maiden name (if applicable). This can be altered to include nicknames in parenthesis, such as First (Nickname), Middle, Last [and Maiden Name].
In some cases, you may wish to remove the maiden name from the memorial altogether. This is especially true if your loved one had a complicated relationship with their spouse or your family did not celebrate the remarriage.
While it is entirely up to you how you want to commemorate your loved one, remember that the inscription on their gravestone will be read by many people decades after they pass away. So, make sure to choose wording that will not become outdated in the future. Avoid trendy, farmhouse-style fonts that might be out of style in 10 or 50 years, and opt for classic serif fonts that will never go out of style.
Middle names are usually added to honor a relative, a godparent, or an important person in the deceased individual’s life. They may also be a tribute to a favorite hobby or activity, a cultural background, or a significant place of origin. They can be listed as a separate name on the gravestone or placed after the last name. Some people choose to include a nickname below the full name to ease reading or add personality to the memorial.
When you buy a headstone, it’s a significant historical marker and should be designed as such. When considering the order of names on a headstone, consider how future generations could use this information to uncover more about the deceased’s life. For example, if a woman’s middle name was part of her family name, it would be helpful to include this on the headstone so researchers could follow up on her history.
The most traditional ways to list names on a headstone are first, middle, and last names. Some people prefer to include their maiden name if it is an important part of their heritage. This is often done using the prefixes nee or b. This can be especially meaningful if the deceased was married at the time of death.
Some cemeteries have specific rules about the order and style of inscriptions on headstones. In these cases, it is best to follow their instructions. They will likely have requirements about how many lines of text can be used and lettering size restrictions.
It is also important to provide a complete date of birth and death on the memorial. Genealogists put a lot of value in this information, and it is very useful for researchers to be able to locate the actual date of birth as opposed to a generic “died aged xx years.”
The last step when listing names on a headstone is to include any significant roles or positions held by the deceased person. For example, a military tombstone will typically display the deceased’s first name, rank, branch of service, and date of death. This can be an effective way to add a sense of closure and to show respect for the deceased person’s service to their country.
Inscriptions on headstones can include a lot of information, from the date of death to the birthplace of the deceased. In most cases, it’s common to display the person’s full name, including their maiden name, unless otherwise specified by the family. Then, if there is a desire to include other information like ranks and positions held during military service or other professional achievements, the gravestone will display that information after the person’s name.
This is also a great way to honor the deceased, as it’s important to remember that their death was not in vain. Their life had a purpose, so showcasing the things they were passionate about on their stone is a beautiful way to memorialize them and pay tribute to their legacy.
Of course, many people want to add more than just the date of death on their gravestones. For some, it’s a tradition to include their birth date, too, so their families have a record of when they were born and passed. For others, it’s a chance to celebrate their uniqueness and what made them special, such as a funny quip or a favorite quote they lived by.
Then some want to honor their spouse or significant other on their headstone, so they must choose whether to include the person’s first name. In some cases, it makes more sense to include the spouse’s last name rather than the maiden name if they were married at the time of their death. Others might decide to add the maiden name in parenthesis after their first and middle names, similar to how nicknames are used.
Of course, it’s important to remember that these decisions are personal. While some conventions will always be true, breaking the rules and doing what feels right for you and your loved one is okay. Just make sure you take your time and consult with others, especially close relatives, before deciding on an inscription for your loved one’s headstone. That way, you can be sure that they’re being honored exactly how they would want to be.
When it comes to the maiden name on a headstone, the decision is usually based on the deceased person’s wishes and how they presented themselves. If the deceased woman kept her maiden name through a divorce or even after remarrying, including it on the stone would make sense. This will help ensure that all of her loved ones are properly honored and that the final resting place accurately reflects their life.
However, if the person took their spouse’s last name upon marriage and did not keep it afterward, including the maiden name may not be appropriate. This can be a bit of a debate, and the spouse’s name will likely be listed instead. It also depends on whether the maiden name is important to the person’s heritage and legacy. If not, it may be best to leave it off the gravestone altogether.
Most cemeteries have regulations that specify how many names can be included on a headstone and the format in which they should appear. These rules are typically meant to prevent inappropriate markings that could mar the grounds. They can also limit the size of a headstone or restrict lettering.
Regardless of the restrictions, most engraving companies will happily include any name the deceased wants on their gravestone. Often, it’s a good idea to discuss the options with the person in charge of selecting the headstone. This will give everyone a chance to voice their opinions and make sure that the final choice is one that the deceased would have wanted.
It’s also a good idea to double-check the spelling of the deceased’s full name and dates of birth and death. It’s surprisingly easy to make a mistake during the stress of funeral planning, and it’s very unfortunate if a wrong name or date is included on a gravestone. Taking the time to get it right is always worth the effort, and it will ensure that your loved one’s memorial is accurate and beautiful.