What do you want on your tombstone?

Posted by on

Tombstone Symbols in Boston

Tombstones in Boston

For many of us, a tombstone is our last and most durable public memento. It marks a place where loved ones can come to remember and reflect. A colleague notes that it also guarantees that, even if our loved ones don’t remember us, the person who mows the cemetery lawn will.

Tombstones may be small or large, simple or ornate. Besides marking the burial place of our physical remains, they also provide information: a name and at least a date or two, and often more.


Many tombstones include an epitaph, a few, pithy words from or about the deceased. You may want to choose your own epitaph in advance, unless you’d prefer that your family choose it for you, when you’re no longer around to disapprove.

Boston Granary Cemetery

Boston Granary Cemetery

We don’t expect good writing to be easy, but trying to summarize a long life – or even a short one – in a phrase or two is especially difficult.

We asked a few co-workers at MyHeritage’s US office, “What would you like on your tombstone?” We weren’t talking about pizza, but we might have had more responses if we had been. Apparently, a lot of people don’t want to think about the living – especially themselves – someday being, well, dead.

Our less squeamish colleagues offered a few suggestions, for themselves and for others.

Julie, whose husband is a firefighter, offered this for her husband:

“Stay out of the heat.”

Justin suggested a famous line attributed to Edmund Burke:

Paul Revere Monument

Paul Revere Monument

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

David offered two thoughts for his own epitaph that were serious . . .

“Better life beyond. See you there someday.”

“Son, brother, husband, father, and some lesser things.”

. . . and two that weren’t:

“Here lies Mr. Rodeback, dead,

In a box, with a rock on his head.
It’s too bad he never finished this limerick, because now it’s too late.”

“Check him out at dead.davidrodeback.com.”

(That’s not a real link, at least not yet.)

Clare selected this classic verse:

Here lies my wife.
I bid her goodbye.
She rests in peace,
And now so do I.

QR Codes

For myself, a name and the dates are just fine, and any great quote from scripture or a religious leader. What I really want on my tombstone is something new: a QR code. QR is for Quick Response. Visitors can scan the code and be taken quickly to a web site about the deceased (me).

QR Code Tombstone - Scan the large QR Code

QR Code Tombstone - Scan the large QR Code

The QR code can point to a YouTube video, a family tree, an obituary, or anything else you can find at a web page. It’s on a sticker attached to the stone. Some people don’t like how they look, but they’re catching on. Anyway, it must be only a matter of time before someone designs them to blend in better with the stone.

Imagine: Someone is in the cemetery, visiting my gravestone. A simple tap of a smartphone activates a link, which pulls up more information about me, the deceased: videos, memories, family trees, and more.

Scan the QR code on the tombstone picture to see how this works – I have included a large QR code to make it easy. And yes, you actually can scan this one here now on the computer screen.  Your SmartPhone or iPad will then bring up the site where I have programed this code to take you.

Don’t have a QR code reader – download one from the App store.  Here is the one I use.

Images, New and Old

Symbols on Tombstones

Symbols on Tombstones

Putting symbols on gravestones is not a new idea. In Boston in the 1700s, for example, there was often an image carved at the top of the stone – an angel, a skull, or something else – to protect the grave from various evils. (There is a lot of information online about the various symbols used on the tombstones.  Here is information from the city of Boston about the many tombstone markings found there.)

I’ve noticed many modern tombstones which incorporate images to summarize a life: flowers, religious symbols, a car or truck, a favorite team’s logo, etc. Cooper, a boy I blogged about last year, has his photo etched in bronze on his tombstone.  It’s a beautiful monument that his family visits often.

Laser engraving now allows the creation of tombstones with realistic, high-resolution photos engraved in the stone. (See a July 2011 article in The Atlantic.)

I’ve mentioned some of the possibilities. What do you want on your tombstone?

Old Tombstones found in Boston

Old Tombstones found in Boston

2 Responses to “What do you want on your tombstone?”

  1. allalata says:

    shershe ma famille allalata
    Hello my name is Hamza allalata Algeria for missing family members in Germany allalata fall for the first science War world war, my grandfather was a French military service in World War II and built in Germany in 1917 search and has a wife and published the daughter of the prison and married a daughter of the German High Command had German girl and a boy and a girl, and the actual war, he returned to Algeria. The war in Algeria because Algeria is right to adequate housing of the French army, and before his death, he told us the story of the Old Wedding in Germany and wanted to return to Germany to go to his children and his German wife died in 1971 in Algeria. The archives of the history of my grandfather covered information about the Second World War. – Http / http://www.genealogie.com ———————————— ** The Online Archive Search ‘results for the name ALLALATA http://www.genealogie.com/ ****** Your search criteria: Name *: allalata (eg Dupont) in Select: Name: Mohamed (as Patrick) Contractors: 1900 ( year) 1925 Department: all DE ———————————- Name: ALLALATA role of the personal name Ad Relevance Mohamed ———————————- named “Persons: 1 Year: http:// www – genealogy . com. ———————————— Online Archive: Research ***** After the name of research http://www.genealogie.com/ ALLALATA *** Your search criteria: Name *: allalata (eg Dupont) in selection: Name: mohamed (as Patrick) Contractors: 1900 (year) 1925 Department: All “- ——————————– Name: Role of Staff Change of name ALLALATA Relevance View Mohamed —— —————————- TOTAL “people: 1 Year: And I have a friend in Algeria looking German girl in Germany and contact with the Veterans Association in Germany and found the name and title of my grandfather and his son, the GEET of the year information, you resharshe germanne the girl and the address in the archive. Title Name allalata my grandfather Muhammad Mahmoud beach girl Catherine withdrew address rural housing for veterans in Stuttgart. Please do not see, in this case, it turned out my family, the investigation the effective exercise by the neighbors that my grandfather left his wife and children died in another location 20 years effective Finally, I hope you consider my request … ALLALATA Hamza bin Abd Elhamid Department: AIN Touila Khenchela Algeria PO Box 40005 Telephone

Leave a comment