We all want to be remembered for something. We have children, we paint, we write, we fight, we conquer. We leave behind marks on the fabric of humanity, and while some are content to stay in the background, some of us want to make those marks as vivid and overwhelming as possible. We don’t just want to be remembered. We want to be unforgettable.
― J.T. Ellison
Long after the funeral service is over, visitors to your memorial will undoubtedly approach and read the inscription on your memorial plaque as they pause and remember you in their time of reflection.
That inscription, most commonly known as an epitaph, is a succinct tribute that usually includes the person’s name, dates of birth and death, and a meaningful saying, message, or quote that reflects their values, beliefs, or accomplishments. It signifies to all who come after that this was a person who lived, loved, and mattered.
Epitaphs give us the opportunity to share a little of ourselves with future generations. It can impart wisdom, sum up one’s life experiences, or get in one last punch line.
Over the centuries there have been millions of epitaphs, some simple, some deep, some poignant, and some witty. Here are a few examples of celebrity epitaphs that cover the spectrum of sentiment in that essential final statement:
Dutch mathematician Ludolph van Ceulen, the first person to determine the value of Pi to 35 digits has 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288 as his epitaph. Famous TV show host Merv Griffin’s final message was, “I will not be right back after this message. Civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s reads “Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty, I’m Free at Last.” The married comedy duo of Gracie Allen and George Burns have “Together Again” on their companion crypt. Legendary poet Edgar Allan Poe’s epitaph reads: “Quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore.’” And Mel Blanc, the man who voiced Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig and other animated characters left his famous “That’s All Folks” on his tablet.
Much like planning ahead for a memorial service, an epitaph can also be taken care of ahead of time. You can select from favorite sayings, quotes, Bible verses, song lyrics, or create your own message based on what best sums up your being. Remember, your space will be limited by the size of your memorial tablet.