Epitaphs are among the oldest forms of writing in the world. They are a way to commemorate the dead and celebrate the lives they’ve lived. They can be poetry or verse and are usually inscribed onto a gravestone or memorial plaque at a burial to honor the memory of the deceased. A memorable epitaph is short and heartfelt. The feeling that it conveys is generally a reflection of the deceased person’s personality. It can be tragic if the person’s death was sacrificial or humorous if the person liked to laugh things off when alive. It may also be ironic. A good epitaph is not overly sentimental. It is a summation of the life that the individual lived.
If you're writing your own epitaph, you already have the voice figured out. Now, all you have to do is determine who the epitaph will be addressed to. It could be a general address to the common public, a passerby or a beloved. As discussed above, you could inject a little bit of your personality into it. So if you're religious, you could include scripture from a sacred text.
The reason epitaphs are generally asked to be kept short is because the gravestone affords very little space for lengthy text unless you want to spend lavishly on your tombstone, in which case you can write yourself a long one. However, it is best to keep it short. You could list a couple of your achievements on your epitaph if you'd like to be remembered for them. You could leave a few comforting words for those surviving you to offer solace. If you're confused about how to write an epitaph, you could do some research. Once you’ve written one down, you could show it to your friends and family and ask for their opinion.
You could leave your family or friends to write your epitaph for you when you're gone. However, if you choose to write your epitaph for you – there's nothing wrong with that either.
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Those who have lost a loved one often ask how long they have to wait before they can erect a memorial or a headstone on a grave. There is no direct answer to this. Mostly, it depends on the cemetery. While some cemeteries may need you to wait for a set period of time before you can erect memorials, some do not have such rules. Instead, they may encourage you to make plans to order your headstone any time you want.
Many cemeteries suggest that families wait at least six weeks before placing a flat grass marker. But the waiting period is longer if you wish to erect an upright monument. Often, you have to wait for about three to six months to make sure that by the time you do place the memorials, any dirt around the grave would have settled. This is because a new grave takes time to settle and can move around, especially when there is a lot of rainfall. While the ground below is settling, the earth and dirt above are also subject to moving.
In some cemeteries, this issue is addressed by using a special tampering machine that can level the grave. This helps the fresh dirt above to be concentrated right above the grave instead of moving about. As such, families don’t have to wait for a long time to place memorials for their lost loved ones.
Since the ground often needs time to settle, it is advised that you wait about six months before you erect any kind of memorial. Otherwise, if you decide to go ahead with this too soon rather than waiting for the recommended time period, you are highly likely to find yourself ordering replacement memorials soon.
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Headstone inscriptions are a special way to remember your loved ones who have passed away. Many people want to inscribe something that truly reflects the kind of person the deceased was, while some may choose favorite quotes or sayings.
Some people even let their family know the inscription of their choice before their time comes, but if this isn’t the case, it will be up to you, as a loved one, to choose the headstone inscriptions. Here are some tips to help you out.
Remember to take your time and don’t rush into anything. Keep in mind that a headstone inscription is something that will remain for a long time, if not forever. Allow yourself and whoever is involved enough time to carefully consider all available options regarding words, design, etc.
Don’t clutter the headstone with unnecessary words. Simple, short, yet meaningful, wordings are a good choice. For example, don’t clutter with common wordings like “In loving memory of”. Instead, choose words that have an impact on a personal level.
You don’t have to conform to trends that everyone else is following. Choose designs and fonts that you really like, and will stand the test of time. Besides, the designs and fonts chosen can really make a difference on the entire look and feel of the headstone so choose carefully.
While some people like to put words like “Beloved brother, father and grandfather” or something similar, it may be a good idea to use quotes from poems, books or songs that the deceased really liked, or what you think would accurately capture the feeling of loss, love, or grief.
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Many people like to serve food at funeral services or memorial services. Even though this is not necessarily an obligation, it has become some sort of a tradition. If you and your family are unable to provide food to your guests for any reason at all, you don’t have to. People understand that you are grieving and busy, that you have a lot on your plate, and they don’t expect anything from you.
However, if you do decide to serve some food for guests at a funeral service or a memorial service, it’s going to take some planning. To help you out, here are some things that you must keep in mind:
If you only expect close friends and relatives to attend and the crowd is small, you have a wide variety of options to choose from when it comes to funeral food. However, if you expect a huge number of people to show up, it’s better to go for food items that can be prepared in bulk.
The kind of food that you serve completely depends on your personal choice and/or your culture. However, to give you some ideas, here are some common funeral foods – Mac and Cheese, fruit and vegetable tray, salad with dressing on the side, cookies and brownies, dinner rolls, lemonade, coffee, etc.
Oftentimes, it is up to you and your family to prepare the foods. Do not hesitate to ask for help from friends, and they will be more than willing to help you out. Your community can even take care of the food if you are really close. Check with your church community as they may have a special ministry just for this purpose. Some well-wishers may even bring sympathy dishes for you. If your budget allows, consider catering.
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When a loved one dies you can choose to have a graveside service, which is simply a funeral service held at the grave, the site of burial. You can either have a graveside service as a stand-alone ceremony, or it can be conducted after a traditional funeral service held at home, church or a funeral home.
If you are planning a graveside service, here are some important tips to keep in mind:
Make sure you let people know if it's a private ceremony
If you are having a graveside ceremony, make sure you let people know clearly whether it is open to all, or only meant for close friends and family members to attend especially if you are having a graveside service after a traditional service. People will assume that it's open to all if you don't make your announcement. They will understand if you prefer to keep the graveside service a private event.
Know how a graveside service differs from a traditional funeral service
Planning a graveside service isn't the same as planning a normal funeral ceremony. For instance, you won't require pallbearers, and by the time attendees have arrived the casket is usually already in place. In most cases, viewings are not allowed, or if allowed, it is only for a brief period. Only one eulogy is delivered in most graveside services, and live music isn't necessary but can be arranged. Flower arrangements are also minimal or not present at all.
Graveside funeral services are highly cost-effective
If budget is an issue then you can benefit greatly from having just a graveside funeral alone without having a traditional funeral service. For instance, you can cut costs by not having to rent a funeral home or hire catering. You also don't have to pay money for renting limousines, hiring musicians, etc. as these won't be necessary.
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