If you are designing a headstone for your eventual death or if you are choosing a headstone for a loved one, you may encounter a lot of religious options. However, if you or your loved one don't identify as any particular religion, you may be looking for inspiration. Ultimately, headstones are very personal, and it's up to you to decide what's right in your situation.
To help inspire you, here are some ideas of things to include on someone's headstone if they are atheist or not religious.
1. Short Epitaphs
In addition to the deceased's name and date of life and death, many headstones also include a verse from scripture. Luckily, that's not the only option. Instead, consider using a short epitaph that celebrates the deceased's life or memory.
There are many literary quotes, lines of poetry and general aphorisms that can be perfect. For instance, Yate's line, "Step softly, a dream lies buried here," is at once poignant but not overtly religious.
If you prefer something longer. Rabindranath Tagore has a poem that sums up death but does not make any inferences about the afterlife:
Say not in grief that she is no more
but say in thankfulness that she was
A death is not the extinguishing of a light,
but the putting out of the lamp
because the dawn has come.
There are countless similar poems that can work beautifully. It may take some searching to find the right sentiment—but don't worry; it's out there.
3. Non-Religious Symbols
If you prefer the words on the headstone to be minimal, you may want to consider some symbols. Many religious headstones feature crosses, the Star of David, the Buddhist Wheel of Life, the Islamic 5-pointed star or similar engravings.
However, there are also non-religious symbols. The atheist symbol looks like an atom with the letter "a" inside of it, while the humanist symbol is a line figure with upraised arms. Other options to consider include the infinity symbol or even the word "atheist" spelled with a variety of religious symbols such as a Star of David as the "a", a cross as the "t", a yin-yang symbol as the "s" and similar markings for the remaining letters.
4. Comedic Endings
If someone is funny in life, it makes sense to memorialise them with a bit of comedy. Headstones don't have to be a serious affair. Throughout the world, many headstones take a light approach to death with everything from engravings of "killer sharks" to funny puns about hunting. That's also an idea to consider.
For more ideas to consider, contact stonemasons in your area.