Q:

How do you write an epitaph?

A:

Quick Answer

Write an epitaph by keeping everything concise, communicating strong feelings, speaking in the first person and paying special attention to the audience of the epitaph. Above all, the words should serve as a specific and unique way to honor someone who has died.

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Full Answer

Many of the best epitaphs are very short, such as one or two lines, and should not typically exceed six lines. While there is no specific format for the information that must be included, the epitaph typically mentions the name of the deceased and sometimes includes his age and the name of his hometown. Keeping the epitaph short challenges the writer to sum up the life of the deceased and honor him without rambling.

Tailor the emotion of the epitaph to the deceased. Epitaphs may be humorous, ironic or heartfelt. Whatever its emotional mode, do not make the epitaph overly sentimental or overly sad. Instead, focus on expressing your deep feelings regarding the deceased.

Most epitaphs are written in first person, reflecting the emotional voice of the friend, family or colleague who has written it. You may choose to write the first person epitaph in the voice of the deceased.

Be specific about the intended audience for the epitaph. Some very personal epitaphs may explicitly address the deceased, while others may address groups or individuals within the world or even the world itself.

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