Writing Your Own Epitaph

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Why let the vagaries of others dictate the words written on your memorial urn or your tombstone? Write your own epitaph while you are still able and, in the process, avoid being stuck with too romantic or too generic epitaphs that do not reflect your life as you lived it.

While a traditional epitaph is usually written by other people like your family, the times have changed. So stop worrying so much about what others outside of your family will say – it’s your life, your death, and your memorial urn so you may as well take control now.

Writing your own epitaph is both easy and challenging – easy because you already know who you are in life but challenging because you want find the right words to be remembered by. Keep in mind that you want to avoid underestimating and overestimating your life and your memories as reflected in a few verses.

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Before writing your epitaph, here are a few tips to remember. Just be sure to write and re-write your epitaph at least twice – sleep on it, so to speak – before telling your close family members about it.

• Take stock of your life and ask questions about it. What are the achievements that you are most proud of? What are the memories that you want to leave behind for your family and friends? What are the words that can best express these desired memories?

• Read Bible verses, poems, and epitaphs. You will get plenty of ideas from these resources, which you can then use as basis for your own epitaph. You may even just cull entire verses or adapt verses to suit your own purposes, thus, making your task so much easier.

• Choose an approach for the epitaph. Do you want it to be funny or profound?

• Make a shortlist of your favored draft-cum-epitaphs. The more verses you have, the more likely you will pick the best one for yourself.

• Start writing your epitaph. Keep in mind that epitaphs are usually short verses, not autobiographies, and therein lies the challenge of encapsulating your life story in a few lines.

• Sleep on the epitaphs, so to speak. Your perspective will change about the suitability of the drafts after a few days so wait. You should have plenty of time to think about it so be patient.

When you are satisfied with your epitaph, you can show it to your family for their opinions. Just remember that it is yours so listen to them but listen to your heart more.

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