Since time immemorial, the loss of a child has been cause for sorrow and reflection. One of the ways in which parents deal with this pain is to erect monuments in the form of headstones that carry statements that signify and memorialise the deceased. The epitaph for an infant should be one that commemorates the departed and comforts the living.
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Organised religions are intimately familiar with death and have long sought to comfort the living. The Christian Bible, the Islamic Qur'an and Hinduism's Rig Veda, among many others, contain beautiful inscriptions regarding the passing of a loved one, no matter their age. For instance, this beautiful passage from the Qu'ran (55:26, 27) was inscribed on a gravestone (c.a. 1200 A.D.) in Esfahan, Iran: "All on the earth shall pass away, but the face of thy Lord shall abide resplendent with majesty and glory."
Epitaphs from Literature
Famous literary quotes are also commonly used to memorialise the decedent. St. Augustine, P.B. Shelley and Wordsworth all wrote beautiful prose and poetry worthy of a gravestone. Shakespeare also captures such grief in Macbeth, when Malcolm implores Macduff to mourn for his family, "Give sorrow words: the grief that does not speak / Whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break." (Act IV, Scene III).
There are a few books exist that carry epitaphs proper to the burial of a child. Many of the older books hold epitaphs that lean to the side of religion, but still convey the deep sense of grief that accompanies such a loss. In a collection of epitaphs from Samuel Johnson, one from a church yard in Norfolk, England: Ere sin could blight, or sorrow fade, / Death came with friendly care; / The op'ning bud to heaven convey'd, / And bade it blossom there."
Most epitaphs that express a story about the deceased often run more than one sentence. However, some epitaphs can say all they need to say in just a few words. One high official in Sweden, Count Tessin, wrote his own elegy: "Tandem Felix" (Happy at last).
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