In honor of yesterday being national Plan Your Own Epitaph Day, I am going to plan my own epitaph. This is a huge deal, considering my epitaph will remain with me until the day my headstone fades into the natural wear of the elements– which could potentially be hundreds of years.
After much thought on the matter I have decided that one can’t just say, “Here lies Hannah, RIP.” That is entirely too bland and boring and I am not a bland nor boring person, or so I would like to think. And for the love of all cliché things it can absolutely not say, “Here lies Hannah- loving daughter, sister, friend, etc…”
No, I need something that is perfectly explanative of my life. And this needs to be summed up in less than 20 or 30 words. So it has to be clever, short, descriptive… To sum up everything you are in so few words…
Henry David Thoreau was a brilliant man who said, “The rarest quality in an epitaph is truth.” Most of the gravestones in any given grave yard have sweet sayings about how incredible the said person was. “Sacrificial, loving, perfect husband, son, dad…” What the epitaph so conveniently leaves out is that this sacrificial, loving, and perfect dad was full of anger and hatred and was an active alcoholic. That may be a little extreme, but I think you get the point.
I don’t want people to look at my headstone in 100 years and say, “Wow, what a cliché saying.” and then move on to the next one. I want them to see my grave and read something that makes them think twice. A phrase that lingers in their minds and makes them wonder why someone would say something like that on a stone that has lasted for a hundred years.
I want it to say, “She hated, she hurt, she lied and gossiped; she was full of sin. But despite her flaws and imperfections, she now resides in the perfect presence of God. Grace is good.”
Truth is the rarest quality in an epitaph, and that, my friends, is truth.