Karen Jordan

Write Your Story: Epitaphs

English: Epitaph to William Causey One of seve...
Epitaph to William Causey (English, St.Peter’s churchyard) records his untimely death in 1788 (young man of 25) “Death with his Dart / Did smite my Heart / While I was in my prime / My friends therefore / Your Grief forbear / Twas Gods appointed time” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Beware kind friend as you pass by, where you are now, so once was I. Where I am now, you soon shall be. Prepare for death and follow me. (Resthaven Cemetery, Silsbee, Texas).

What will your epitaph say?

When my husband Dan and I were dating, we visited the local cemetery and read the tombstones with a flashlight. That seems like an odd thing for a couple to do on a date, but we lived in a small, southern town, and there were not many activities available. But the local cemeteries provided some interesting discussion points at times.

Youthful reaction. I remember my initial reactionto the epitaph I quoted at the top of this post.  As I looked at the ceramic photo of the deceased on the headstone, I imagined him standing there, reading his own words to me. A surreal moment.

Academic application. I’ve thought of this inscription several times in the past few years. I referred to it when I taught college freshmen, just beginning their academic journeys. Later, I shared this quote, as I led a group of new writing teachers. And now, I share it with you to encourage you to tell your stories, especially your faith stories.

Personal example. My mother wrote her own epitaph, although she didn’t know it at the time she penned it. We engraved an excerpt from one of her poems on her headstone. “Happiness, joy, God’s promise I find. My search has now ended, salvation is mine” (Nelle Baize, 2001).

Part of Mother’s legacy was a collection of poems that she wrote. I’m so grateful that she wrote down some of her thoughts. When I read Mother’s words for the first time, I discovered a voice that I’d never heard.

I hope you will begin to tell the stories that matter most to you.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

What is your favorite epitaph?


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