When I tell people that I'm the landscaper who looks after our team's football field they are really impressed, and a little jealous. I don't think they know how much work it is though - it's definitely trickier than keeping your backyard looking green. Not only does my football field need to look lush, it also needs to be perfectly even so that the ball doesn't bounce at crazy angles, and not so soft that the players boots sink in. I need to keep up with all of the latest tricks that landscapers have, and I write these up here so that everyone can give them a try on their own fields.
Losing a loved one is an incredibly difficult thing for anybody to go through, and it's often made even harder because of all the arrangements that need to be made. Although it would be easier if it could all be put off until the shock and initial stages of grief have passed, funeral arrangements and other concerns have to be sorted quickly.
One of the most important things that you'll want to make sure you get right is the choice of a lasting monument, a permanent place to remember the deceased. But the right words can be difficult to find, which can cause even more anxiety during this stressful time. Here's some advice to help you choose a fitting epitaph.
At the very least, headstones and other monuments should have the name of the deceased, plus their date of birth and date of death. It's perfectly acceptable to include a nickname if the person was commonly known by one. Some people choose to leave it at that, so it's fine if you don't think any other words are necessary, or you can't find the right ones.
Life is full of inspiring quotes, which can make navigating them a challenge. Think about books, songs, poems, and even movies that the deceased liked, and you may find words that take on extra meaning in the circumstances. Alternatively, many people choose lines from the bible or other religious texts.
Unfortunately, you need to take care with copyright. While this isn't an issue with a lot of older sources, many things are still protected by law, and, although it's unlikely that anyone will try to prosecute over text used in this situation, it is still possible. If you're unsure, a copyright office or even amonument restoration service or builder may be able to advise you.
Keep it simple
If you've found something you'd like to quote, try to keep it short and exclude any necessary parts. The most effective epitaphs convey a lot of power and emotion in just a few words.
The alternative to using an existing quote is to just provide a few simple words of your own choosing. Something that lets the reader know that the deceased is loved and missed is a beautiful sentiment, and there are many elegant ways to state it.
Talk to others
Whatever your thoughts are, don't take on the burden of deciding all on your own. Discuss your ideas with other people, and they'll help you choose the perfect words. Even people who didn't know the deceased personally may be able to provide useful insight.