The holidays are always a time full of symbolism, both religious and secular, so I thought it would be a great time to publish Part 2 of our Headstone Symbolism series. I love discovering and thinking about deeper meanings behind symbols in our lives, I think it’s provides interesting insight into the lives and values of others.
If you missed part one, you can go back and read it here.
Keep in mind, the following definitions are just ideas of what each of these symbols mean. Just because someone (whether that’s the person actually buried there or one of their relatives) chose a certain symbol for this headstone doesn’t mean that’s what it meant to them. But it sure is fun to think about!
Angel: They are typically considered a guardian, messenger, or even a guide to heaven. They are a symbol of spirituality and of resurrection. Angels are said to “guard the tomb, guide the soul, pray for the soul in purgatory, and direct the living visitor to think heavenwards.” (From Cemetery Symbolism; A Wary Glossary)
Ball (Sphere): Usually a symbol of the soul waiting for resurrection.
Lyre: This could mean the person buried here was a musician. A lyre is also a symbol of the connection between heaven and earth. When it has a broken string, it symbolizes the end of life.
Palm Branches: They are typically a Christian symbol of spiritual victory or victory over death. They also could signify eternal peace or a heavenly reward.
Rose: The rose could also be a Christian symbol in that it signifies the blood of Christ. It is also a “reminder that the soul achieves its most perfect state after physical death.” (From Heritage Bulletin)
Weeping Willow: This symbol usually represents what its name implies, sorrow, mourning, nature’s lament, and remembering those that have passed.
Freemason Square and Compass: This symbol signifies a member of the Freemasons or Masons—a fraternal organization. Usually the “G” in the middle either stands for “God” or “Geometry.”
Tree stump (Woodmen of the World): This symbol (which may include an ax, the maul and wedge, and/or a dove of peace with an olive branch) signifies a member of the fraternal insurance society called “Woodmen of the World.” In its beginnings, this organization provided its members with headstones, but that turned out to be too costly. Since Woodmen never “lie,” these tombstones will usually say “Here rests a Woodman of the World.” (See Wikipedia article)
cemeteryfun factsHeadstone symbolismsymbols
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