7 Unique Headstone Inscriptions for One-of-a-Kind Loved Ones

From recipes to custom art, these gravestone engraving ideas will help you show the personality of your loved one.

Updated January 18, 2024
Headstone with engraving

The words you have engraved on a headstone are how people will remember your loved one, so they're really important. Don't stress if you're struggling to find the right words, though; we've got lots of unique headstone inscriptions to inspire you.

Although a stroll through your local cemetery will reveal some lovely headstone inscriptions, you might need something different to honor a unique loved one. You can find gravestone engraving ideas that will have people pausing to think about the person being honored, shed a tear, or maybe even chuckle. From song lyrics to funny verses, the ideal memorial is out there.

7 Ideas for Unique Headstone Inscriptions

The epitaph, or inscription on a headstone, serves a key purpose: it offers a lasting memorial to the person who has died. It's not always easy to find something that fits, though. Depending on your loved one's personality and sense of humor, one of these ideas might be perfect.

1. Artist-Drawn Inscriptions

Words aren't the only way to express your love for a friend or family member on the person's headstone. If you really want the engraving to stand out, it's a major statement to have some unique art engraved.

You can also give your stone a custom look by working with an artist. Businesses like Karen Sprague Stone Carvers and Roy Dixon, The Monument Artist offer unique picture-based inscriptions. From an image of your lost loved one to engravings of the things they loved, this can offer cemetery visitors a real glimpse of the person.

Quick Tip

A picture doesn't always have to be a representation of something or someone (although that's cool too). Think about including art that's more abstract like a stylized nature scene of a special spot or a simple design that symbolizes eternity to you.

2. Funny Inscriptions

funny headstone inscription

If your loved one was famous for their wicked sense of humor or loved to joke about a particular topic, we love the idea of capturing this quality in a unique headstone inscription. These funny headstone sayings can offer hilarious inspiration:

  • If you can read this, you're definitely standing on my grave.
  • You can run, but you can't hide.
  • Shared a one-bathroom house with six people and never stopped loving them.
  • Raised four kids and six dogs. Finally time to rest.
  • Always had too many cats.
Quick Tip

A funny inscription can be a very meaningful way to honor your family member or friend; however, it's important to make sure that everyone who cares about the person will find the message funny. It's always good to check with people first.

3. In Their Words

Some people choose to write their epitaphs while still alive. Not everyone is into this, but it does make it easier when it's time to decide on an inscription. However, if your loved one didn't make their wishes clear, you can read through old letters to find something that represents the person's voice. Expressions of love or other personal notes can be a great way to immortalize a friend or family member.

Quick Tip

We love the idea of engraving a person's words in their own handwriting. If you have a letter or other written document, you can have their exact wording and writing style engraved on the stone.

4. Tombstone Ideas Based on Song Lyrics

Did your loved one have a favorite meaningful or sad song? You can have a portion of the lyrics engraved on the headstone. If possible, choose a part of the song that describes the person.

However, if you can't find a verse that's quite right, the chorus is always a good choice. Anyone familiar with the song will understand that it was meaningful to your loved one.

Related: 50+ Unique Famous Epitaphs

5. Custom Epitaph Written by You

specific qualities listed on headstone inscription

If the epitaphs suggested by the company creating the headstone just don't seem to fit your loved one, consider writing a short poem, a description, a love letter, or another beautiful piece to include on the headstone. You don't have to be a pro writer to create something beautiful. Here's how to do it:

  • Think about what you would you say to the person if you could. We're talking one great line about how much they meant to you.
  • Write about the unique qualities that made your loved one special. Make it specific.
  • Consider what would you like others to remember about your loved one. From their laugh to their awesome golf game, personal details can make your headstone inscription unique.
Quick Tip

You can also work with a professional writer to create a personalized epitaph. Contact your local college or university for suggestions of creative writers who may be able to help.

6. Special Recipes as Headstone Inscriptions

Did your loved one specialize in making something delicious? We absolutely love the idea of including their special recipe as a headstone inscription. From Dad's famous pot roast to Mom's amazing chocolate chip cookies, sharing the recipe is a really cool and unique way to honor them. List all the ingredients and some simple instructions on the headstone so anyone visiting the cemetery will be able to make that dish.

7. Coded Epitaphs

Another creative idea is to inscribe the headstone with a coded message. You may work with your loved one before their death to create this epitaph, or it may be a special tribute after they are gone. Consider one of these ideas:

  • Use the first letter of each line of a verse to spell out a word or message.
  • Choose a riddle to inscribe on the stone.
  • Leave a message about a secret hiding place.
  • Offer clues about a family secret.

Related: 50+ Uplifting Celebration of Life Quotes

Quick Tip

It's common to find verses from the Bible or religious texts on headstones, but if your loved one had a "life verse" or favorite passage, it can make a faith-based epitaph more meaningful and unique. 

Important Considerations for Headstone Inscriptions

Before you invest in a custom headstone engraving, be sure to check with the cemetery where the stone will be placed. Some cemeteries have restrictions on the headstones they allow. Be sure to ask the following questions before you design a stone:

  • Is there a restriction on the size of the stone? This can affect the length of your epitaph.
  • Are there verses or topics that are not allowed?
  • Who has final approval of the headstone? Can you speak with that person about your ideas?

A Very Special Statement

The engraving you choose for a headstone is a very special statement about someone you have loved and lost, so it's a pretty big deal. You're already on the right track, though. You're putting thought into this decision, and that means it will be perfect. Whether you honor your loved one with famous words, an artist's engraving, a funny statement, or another creative option, you can be sure the words you choose will be meaningful.

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7 Unique Headstone Inscriptions for One-of-a-Kind Loved Ones