21 Short Headstone Epitaph Ideas for Parents | Cake Blog (2023)

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If you’ve ever visited a cemetery, you may have noticed short engravings on headstones. They might be a line from a book or poem, or they might be a short quote about the person in the grave. These inscriptions are called epitaphs.

Jump ahead to these sections:

  • Headstone Epitaphs for Parents Reunited at Death
  • Short Headstone Epitaphs for Both Parents
  • Funny Headstone Epitaphs for Both Parents

The best epitaphs are ones that tell a story about the deceased or pay tribute to them in some way. If you’re in the unfortunate position of choosing an epitaph for your parents and just purchased a headstone, you may not know where to begin. Here, we share some of our favorite epitaphs that honor parents that have passed away.

Headstone Epitaphs for Parents Reunited at Death

21 Short Headstone Epitaph Ideas for Parents | Cake Blog (1)

If one of your parents has already died, it’s a difficult blow when the other one passes away. But some people take comfort in the fact that their parents are reunited in the afterlife. These headstone sayings are a lovely way to pay tribute to two souls being reunited.

1. “Let the stars keep track of us. Let us ride our own orbits and trust that they will meet. May our reunion be not a finding but a sweet collision of destinies!”

This passage from Jerry Spinelli’s Love, Stargirl speaks of the sweetness of reconnecting after a long separation.

2. “Farewell, my dearest. You have but gone ahead ...but I shall follow, and run, at last, again into your arms… and laugh away the years that came between.”

This epitaph consists of lines from a poem by Joan Walsh Anglund. It sums up the joyful feeling spouses may experience when reunited in the afterlife.

3. “I feel a universe of love. I feel a universe of light. Tonight, I am with old friends and we are returning home. The moon is our witness.”

Poets are so adept at distilling complex emotions into simple lines. That’s what makes poems such a rich source of lines for epitaphs. This verse by Kamand Kojouri is no exception.

4. “I was waiting for the longest time, she said. I thought you forgot. / It is hard to forget, I said, when there is such an empty space when you are gone.”

This passage is excerpted from the book Story People: Selected Stories & Drawings of Brian Andreas. It would be perfect for an epitaph after a husband is interred next to his long-buried wife.

5. “Our brief partings on Earth will appear one day as nothing beside the joy of eternity together.”

This poetic quote is actually fairly popular as an epitaph. It reminds us that even if our parents were temporarily separated by death, they ultimately wound up together again.

6. “Sometimes it's easy to forget how much you miss people until you see them again.”

When a parent loses a spouse young, they are forced to go on with their day to day living. They grieve and mourn, but have to prioritize taking care of their children and themselves. As the years pass, it may be easy to focus on something other than the loss. This simple sentiment from Colleen Hoover reminds us that in death we have the time to miss those we’ve lost.

7. “The hours part us but they bring us together again.”

A woman named Juliana Horatia Ewing penned this sentiment back in 1877. Her intent was to have it inscribed on a sun-dial, but it’s an appropriate epitaph as well. It serves to remind us that in the grand scheme of the universe, a few years is as minuscule as a few hours.

Short Headstone Epitaphs for Both Parents

21 Short Headstone Epitaph Ideas for Parents | Cake Blog (2)

It can be tricky coming up with headstone epitaphs for fathers or mothers. You have so few words to say something incredibly meaningful. Turning to quotes from authors, philosophers, or other wise people can help inspire you. Here are some great starting points for epitaphs for moms and dads.

8. “You were my home, Mother. I had no home but you”

Home is not always a place. Sometimes home is a person. This quote from Janet Fitch’s White Oleander ably captures that singular relationship.

9. “A mother's love is instinctual, unconditional, and forever.”

Epitaphs should tell you something about the person buried in a grave. But they can also tell you about how the deceased was viewed by their loved ones. This simple but sweet quote from Revathi Sankaran pays tribute to an exceptional mother. But it can also bring grieving family comfort as they remember that their mother’s love endures even after death.

10. “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my mother.”

Abraham Lincoln was one of the greatest leaders the United States has ever known. He gave a lot of that credit to his mother. This quote about his mother makes an ideal epitaph for a mother who instilled her own children with good values.

11. “A father knows his child's heart, as only a child can know his father’s.”

This quote from author Kazuo Koike is ideal for anyone who had a tight bond with their father.

12. “We never get over our fathers, and we’re not required to.”

This old Irish proverb is just the right length for an epitaph. It reinforces that even if our loved ones die, they are not forgotten.

13. “Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.”

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a biological father that steps up for them. But they may have a stepfather, adoptive father, or father figure who fulfill that role. This epitaph indicates that special relationship.

14. “I love you every day. And now I will miss you every day.”

Mitch Albom excels at writing sentiments that are brief but heartfelt. This one has the advantage of working for either a mother or father’s epitaph.

Funny Headstone Epitaphs for Both Parents

21 Short Headstone Epitaph Ideas for Parents | Cake Blog (3)Most people think that anything associated with death has to be grim or somber. But epitaphs are written in loving memory of the deceased. You want to pay tribute to the kind of person they were. If your loved one had a good sense of humor, the best way you can honor them may be by choosing a tongue-in-cheek epitaph.

15. “I told you I was sick.”

We don’t always listen to our parents. When we ignore them and they turn out to be right, they never let us live it down. This epitaph is inspired by Irish poet and comedian Spike Milligan. His own epitaph reads, “I told you I was ill.” If your parents had a great sense of humor and loved to say “I told you so,” this epitaph is perfect.

16. “Oops.”

Was your parent completely accident prone? This simple, one-word epitaph says so much. It captures their haphazard relationship with gravity. It also showcases a silly sense of humor.

17. “I was hoping for a pyramid.”

There is an actual headstone in New York’s Glenwood Ceremony with this epitaph. It would be funny for an Egyptian history buff. It would also be fitting for someone who always aspired to grandeur.

18. “I know something you don’t know.”

The afterlife is a constant question mark for people as we wrestle with our mortality. Is there an afterlife? If so, what’s it like there? Are there entrance requirements? Is there a quiz? If your deceased parent loved having a secret they could tease other people with, this epitaph is a funny way to pay tribute to them. It also gives a small nod that those of us left behind truly don’t know what we face after death. It’s silly and deep all at once.

19. “Here lies John Yeast: pardon me for not rising.”

This is an actual epitaph from a gravestone in Ruidoso, New Mexico. Obviously, this doesn’t work if your parent’s last name wasn’t Yeast. But it can serve as inspiration. Does your parent’s last name lend itself to a pun or play on words? Did they have a joke they relied on to help people spell or pronounce it? That kind of customized twist to an epitaph is a great personal touch.

20. “Go away—I’m asleep.”

Joan Hackett was a talented actress who starred in films and on stage. She also had a wickedly sharp sense of humor. When she died of ovarian cancer, Hackett chose to have these words as her epitaph. They’re also perfect for a mother who joked about being endlessly pestered by her kids.

21. “I am prepared to meet my maker. Whether my maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter."

This quote is attributed to Winston Churchill and is a surprisingly popular epitaph. It’s a great choice for a history buff with a larger than life personality.

Honor Your Parents With Short, Sweet Epitaphs

The best books are ones that close with a satisfying final line. Epitaphs are sort of like the last line in the story of someone’s life. You want to make sure they are a fitting monument to the deceased. Use these epitaphs as inspiration to find the right words to wrap up your parents’ story.

If you're looking for more ideas for a parent's burial, read our guides on the best urns for dad and the best urns for mom.

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