Wednesday, February 9th, 2011


“I told you I was ill!” comedian Spike Milligan quipped from beyond his grave.

“Together again” comedian George Burns said in a tribute to his wife and partner in comedy, Gracie Allen, who died over 30 years before him.
“...For his mourners will be outcast men, And outcasts always mourn” said poet and playwright, Oscar Wilde, in a silent protest at the society of his times.
From the funny to the sentimental, the poetic to the profound – the words on our headstone or memorial are a long-lasting monument to the life we’ve lived.

But how many of us have given any real thought to our parting words – or told our family of our wishes?

Mr Bryan Elliott, the Chief Executive Officer of South Australia’s largest cemetery Centennial Park, said that because few of us take the time to consider what will be written on our headstone or memorial, the choice is usually left to our surviving family members.

A memorial is a dedicated site within a garden cemetery for a person who has been cremated, usually marked with a plaque, which may or may not hold ashes.

“A headstone or memorial is a long-lasting tribute to a loved one and provides a place where family and friends can go to remember and reflect,” Mr Elliott said.

“The wording is an opportunity to summarise their personality, relationships, beliefs and life achievements. For those who did not know that person, the words provide a historical record and some insight into the circumstances and significance of the life they lived.”

Mr Elliott said choosing a memorial or headstone could be difficult for grieving family members, but could offer comfort by providing a meaningful way to preserve their loved one’s memory.

“Families are not limited to words alone to tell their loved one’s story,” he said.

“Modern technology is increasing the number of choices available in headstone inscriptions. Alongside text, photographs can be incorporated into the design.

“We encourage people to give some thought to what they’d like to have written on their own memorial plaque.

“Famous epitaphs have shown us that it can be a great opportunity to have the final say or the last laugh.”

Centennial Park’s suggestions for headstone or memorial inscriptions:

•    Plan ahead by discussing options and preferences with your family so that   your headstone inscription will reflect your wishes.
•    Typical headstone inscriptions include a heading, body copy and line of verse or rhyme.
•    The heading can be as simple as ‘In memory of’ or may be more elaborate, such as ‘Sleeping with the angels’.
•    Body copy usually includes the person’s full name (including, for women, their nee name if they were married); the dates of their birth and death; information about their surviving family (spouses, and children and grandchildren); and, possibly personal qualities or a short description of their achievements.
•    Verses range from a religious or literary quotation to song lyrics or one of the loved one’s well-known sayings.
•    Memorial plaques at Centennial Park can be personalised to include emblems, family crests, illustrations and photographs.

Other great words from the epitaphs of the famous and lesser known:

“There goes the neighbourhood!” Rodney Dangerfield.

“That’s all folks!” Comedian and ‘man of a thousand (Looney Tune) voices’, Mel Blanc.

“I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.” Winston Churchill.

"Here lies a man named Zeke. Second fastest draw in Cripple Creek." Anonymous

“Step softly. A dream lies buried here.” Anonymous

“If anyone at my funeral has a long face, I'll never speak to him again.” Stan Laurel (Laurel and Hardy)

“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.” John Wayne.

"Here lies the body of Jonathan Blake, Stepped on the gas instead of the brake."

“kata ton daimona eay toy” (True to his own spirit), Jim Morrison

“Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night: God said, 'Let Newton be!' and all was light.” Sir Isaac Newton (written by Alexander Pope)

“Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare, To digg the dust encloased heare!
Blest be the man that spares thes stones, And curst be he that moves my bones.”
William Shakespeare

“To Yesterday's Companionship and Tomorrow's Reunion.” Rita Hayworth

An infamous typo on Elvis Presley’s gravestone reads “Elvis Aaron Presley”. His middle name was actually ‘Aron’.

Media contact: Lauren Ralph at Corporate Conversation, ph 08 8224 3535.

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Lauren Ralph

P: 08 8224 3535


Centennial Park, Headstone, Bryan Elliott, Cemetery



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