Choosing an Epitaph for a Cremation Urn or Cremation Pendant
by Jerri Haaven, Grief Recovery Specialist and Celebrant
Did you know that an inscription or engraving can be added to a cremation urn or a cremation pendant? Known as “epitaphs,” these short phrases or words are used to remember someone we love who has died. The use of epitaphs has been traced as far back as approximately 200 AD.
Such an epitaph was found in a collection of Greek and Coptic artifacts at Brigham Young University (BYU). In September 2016, the BYU News reported that an associate professor translated an inscription in ancient Greek on a piece of limestone, roughly the size of an iPad. The lovely epitaph honors a woman named Helene. The translation reads:
In peace and blessing Ama Helene, a Jew, who loves the orphans, [died]. For about 60 years her path was one of mercy and blessing; on it she prospered.
The most familiar epitaphs are attributed to Greek poet, Simonides of Ceos (c. 556–468 BC), who wrote epitaphs for Greek soldiers during the Persian War. One of Simonides most famous epitaphs is:
Contemporary use of these sentimental statements or phrases has become much less formal. They remain an important mainstay in modern funerary culture. But how can personal sentiments be incorporated on a memorial urn, or on a necklace for ashes, when these pieces are so much smaller than a burial headstone?
The good news is that epitaphs can be added to urns and cremation pendants. In this blog, we provide a few tips, followed by examples of contemporary epitaphs.
Engraving a cremation urn or cremation pendant – what to consider
- Before ordering an urn for human ashes, a pet urn for ashes, or a cremation pendant, vendors strongly recommend to give thought to what you want to say. If you have questions, be sure to call and speak with someone. Thinking about what you want inscribed might guide your decision on what urn or piece of cremation jewelry to choose.
- Secondly, choose an urn or cremation jewelry that shows “add engraving” in the product description. If it doesn’t specify this, it’s likely the product cannot be engraved. In these cases, consider adding an engravable pendant on a ribbon, or a marble base with a plaque.
- Since space is limited, be sure to carefully review a vendor’s engraving details. On OneWorld Memorials’ website, for example, the “Add Engraving” link takes you to the details for the number of characters permitted, font choices, and the expected time to complete the engraving. To view a cremation urn with engraving, see the Athena Pewter cremation urn.
- When you choose “Add Engraving,” notice that options include 3 lines of text, each line being a maximum of 40 characters including spaces. There is also an option to choose a “Symbol.” Note that there is a space to proof your text, and that once an engraving order is placed, it cannot be altered unless you call customer service before the engraving takes place.
- Anticipate that there is an extra charge for engraving which is always shown in the engraving area and when placed in the cart.
- Timing – in most cases engraving takes an additional one or two business days. If you have a rush order, call the vendor, or make another choice that fits your timing.
- Our planning guide, “4 Engraving Processes to Consider When Personalizing a Cremation Urn,” covers additional details, such as cremation urn materials that provide an optimum effect when engraved.
Ideas for a cremation urn epitaph
Choosing what to say is probably the most difficult aspect of the process. Amid the grieving process, it’s difficult to put one foot in front of the other, much less come up with meaningful words that you’ll appreciate a year from now, or 10 years from now. One thing we’ve found to be helpful, is to select a theme based on the person who has died. Did he or she enjoy certain hobbies? Was your loved one a teacher? A coach? A grandmother? A pet?
Perhaps a parent who has lost a child or a baby endures the most difficulty with this arduous responsibility. A few touching epitaphs for this situation that I’ve come across might be suitable for a grieving family, or provide inspiration as a starting point. They include:
- Loved beyond measure
- I held you your whole life
- Some people dream of angels
We have held one in our arms
- Our Beautiful Little Boy [or Girl], <insert name>
Examples of short epitaphs for a loved one include:
- Always loving, always loved
- Beloved [Daughter, Brother, Son, Husband, Wife, Sister]
- Forever in my [our] heart
For many people, humor goes a long way – especially for someone known for a sense of humor. It might be fitting to remember your loved one with an inscription to provoke a smile or laughter:
- Well this sucks
- I was hoping for a pyramid
- Gone Huntin’ [Fishin’, etc.]
For our beloved pets, it’s hard to squeeze everything our heart feels into just a few words. A few suggestions:
- Faithful companion
- My furever friend
- My beloved cat/dog
- So loved, so missed
And remember, many cremation pendants can also be inscribed, or purchased pre-inscribed such as this “Always in my heart” cremation necklace.
The final say, ultimately is yours. Take your time. Be thoughtful and be sure your words convey the meaning of your heart.
Jerri Haaven is a freelance writer, and a certified Grief Recovery Specialist and Celebrant. When caring for her dad, who suffered from dementia and COPD, Jerri struggled with the negative side effects of his illness. She developed positive outlets to express herself and recover from her loss. Today as a certified Grief Recovery Specialist and Celebrant, she uses her skills to help people who are in the midst of their own personal story of grief and loss.
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