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The right words

The television programme ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ is back on our screens and many of the celebrities this season – including Matt Lucas and Sue Perkins – can be found discovering the grave of an ancestor. The memorial which they find marks somewhere they can pay their respects and often provides some key information about that person’s life and perhaps other relatives.

If you are strolling through a cemetery, it’s always interesting to discover people with your name or surname and wonder a little about their lives. Somebody we were talking to the other day had recently located her great-grandparents’ grave for the first time and discovered that their young son was also buried with them.

For family and friends, memorials are a way of remembering someone who has passed and offer comfort to people during their time of bereavement. When we visit our local graveyards, we are always touched by the fresh flowers and little mementoes which are left, even for a loved one that has passed away many years ago.

Knowing what to write on a memorial can be hard but, if this is a new grave stone, then the ground takes time to settle after a burial and before the stone can be placed, so you do have a few months to make the decision. It’s important, of course, to include your loved one’s name but, often, they might not have been known by that by in everyday life. For instance, Margaret might have been known as Maggie or they might have been known by a nick name. Gentlemen with the surname ‘Clark’ were often called Nobby. You might want to include both names in this case – or simply stick with their proper name.

In addition to the name, you’ll typically also include their date of birth and death, to give context and then a few lines to remember them by. You might be very clear on this wording but, if you are unsure, we can help you.

Typically, it might be something like: ‘Beloved father and husband of xxx’ and then you could add a simple phrase such as ‘much missed’ or some words from a poem, song or bible verse.

It's good to give this some thought, as it will be there for many years to come. While we’d suggest avoiding any ‘in jokes’ or words on a memorial which might be seen as in bad taste, some well-known people have had some amusing words on their memorials. Most familiar is probably Spike Milligan’s grave which includes the words: ‘I told you I was ill’, while Mel Blanc, who voiced cartoon characters including Bugs Bunny and Tweety Pie, has ‘That’s all folks’ on his grave.

Here at Tester & Jones, the support we provide doesn’t end with the funeral itself. We offer memorial mason services, which means we can assist with every step of creating a fitting memorial, whether it is to be placed in a cemetery or churchyard. We offer help and guidance whether your requirements are for a new memorial, plaque or headstone for a loved one or the refurbishment of an existing memorial. We are also able to offer expert advice on local authority and church regulations.

Some cemeteries – church-owned plots generally have stricter rules – also allow families to add a photograph to a gravestone. We’ve also read that some cemeteries – particularly those with graves of historic interest – are placing QR codes next to the grave, so people can discover more about that person.

The types of memorials you can choose between are wide and include book style, heart style and hand carved memorials. We offer a choice of different stones and lettering to create a special memorial to your loved one.

You can view our memorial brochure on our website or you can opt for a more bespoke memorial.

To find out more, click here: Memorials

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