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Headstone Symbols and Their Meaning

Headstone symbols give memorials a personal touch and tell us something about the personality of the deceased. Therefore, symbols on headstones should be chosen with care. We would like to introduce you to some popular headstone symbols and their meanings.

Headstone Symbols: Overview and Meaning

Headstone symbols are vivid expressions of remembrance for the deceased. They are more than just decoration: headstone symbols carry a profound meaning and are timeless memories of the departed - they may express the individual's love for God, the world, or animals, for example.

But headstone ornaments also hold a significant meaning for the bereaved: they keep the memory of the loved one alive and express a sense of connection.

Regardless of religious or spiritual beliefs, symbols on headstones serve as a universal language of remembrance and commemoration. They enable people to connect with their faith and spirituality and maintain a connection to the deceased.

Moreover, they are also visually beautiful embellishments that give the grave marker a high-quality, special touch.

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Common Gravestone Symbols at a Glance

From Secular to Religious to Deeply Personal: An Overview of Headstone Symbols Showcasing Their Diversity.

Religious Symbols on Tombstones

Tombstones are not merely a final resting place; they are also an expression of faith and the spiritual beliefs of the deceased. In various religious traditions, specific symbols are used to denote affiliation with a particular faith and to establish a connection to the spiritual world.


Symbols in Judaism

In Judaism, the Star of David, which consists of two overlapping triangles, is commonly found. It represents the covenant between God and the Jewish people, and serves as a reminder of the history and identity of the Jewish community. A Jewish tombstone may also feature the Menorah, the seven-branched candelabrum. This symbolizes light and spiritual enlightenment.

Symbols in Christianity

In Christianity, the cross is the central symbol. It commemorates the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and symbolizes hope, comfort, and redemption. A Christian tombstone may also feature the fish (Ichthys), which is a secret abbreviation of the creed and points to the teachings of Jesus.


Symbols in Islam

In Islam, the crescent moon plays an important role as a religious symbol. It represents the lunar calendar and is often depicted alongside a star. This symbol reminds of the Muslim faith and has a deep connection to Arab culture.

Symbols of Other Religious Traditions

Just as varied as the different religious communities are their symbols. In Buddhism, the Dharma Wheel symbol represents the path to enlightenment. In Hinduism, the Om symbol is considered the sacred sound of the universe – it symbolizes a connection to divine energy.


Secular Symbols on Tombstones

Tombstones can feature not only religious symbols but also secular symbols that reflect the individual interests, passions, and values of the deceased. They offer a unique way to honor the life of the deceased and provide comfort to the bereaved.


Symbols for the Interests and Hobbies of the Deceased

With individual symbols, you can keep alive the passions, hobbies, and joys of the deceased in memory. Was the deceased a musician, for example? Then a musical note or a treble clef can be a loving detail. Similarly, a love for sports can be commemorated on the tombstone with a football or a tennis racket, for example.

What Gravestone Symbols Exist?

We want to explain some very common symbols in more detail. All of them are timeless and maintain their elegant impact over the years.


1. The Sun

The sun on the gravestone stands for the source of life and the everlasting light. It represents eternal life, light, warmth, and strength. On the gravestone, it symbolizes life, love, and resurrection. For believers, it also conveys spiritual light and divine enlightenment


2. The Book

The book symbolizes wisdom, literacy, and a peaceful character. It stands for thoughtfulness and the lessons that life has provided for the deceased. Among Christians, the book is a popular motif - for them, it symbolizes the Bible, the eternal book, representing piety and learnedness.

3. The Butterfly

The butterfly symbolizes the free, liberated soul that is detached from the body, suffering, and death. It conveys a sense of lightness and is therefore often found on children’s graves or the graves of those who endured a long illness. Among Christians, the butterfly is seen as the soul freed from material constraints and serves as a symbol of resurrection hope.


4. Headstones with Stars

A headstone with stars is a relatively uncommon sight in our cemeteries. However, the star carries a beautiful symbolism. For thousands of years, stars have shown us the way—whether at sea or on land, people have navigated by the constellations. They light our path through the darkness.

5. The Rose

The rose is a very popular gravestone motif. It is considered the flower of love and expresses our connection and our eternal love for the deceased. The rose conveys beauty and grace and symbolizes virtue and the purity of the soul.

A broken rose signifies our mortality and serves as a reminder of it.


6. The Torch

The torch is a symbol of life and vitality. When oriented downwards, it represents life extinguished. Often, two downward-pointing torches crossed are seen.

When the flame is upwards, the torch becomes a symbol of light and eternal life. It illuminates our path and stands for hope and eternal life.


7. Gravestones with an Angel

The angel holds a very special meaning on a gravestone. Especially for those of faith, an angel is seen as a guardian figure meant to protect and guide the deceased. With the angel on the gravestone, they wish to ensure that their beloved departed are always protected and never alone. The angel watches over them and stands by their side.

8. The Feather

The feather on a gravestone serves as a connection between life and death. It is meant to symbolize the lightness of the soul and to represent its purity. The feather is perceived as a metaphorical link to the heavens.


9. Gravestones with a Sunflower

As the sunflower grows facing the sun and turns with it, it holds significant meaning on gravestones too. It signifies that the deceased was close to God and that their soul was inclined toward spirituality and faith.


10. The Lily

The lily is a classic symbol of innocence and purity, representing the pure soul of the departed. It serves as a reminder of their honorable, honest life and their spotless character. For this reason, lilies are also a popular flower decoration for graves.


11. A Ship or Boat

Ships or boats symbolize the journey through life, which can pass through calm or stormy waters. Christians view them as symbols of the journey to God's harbor. The mast also represents the Cross of Christ.

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13. Headstones with a Tree

The tree represents a connection to nature, a steady and rooted character, and eternal life. It expresses the eternal cycle of nature and the strength of life. Believers see in headstones with a tree a deep-rooted faith and the solid support that faith provides.


14. Headstone with Cross

A headstone with a cross is a common symbol in Christian cemeteries. The cross stands for faith and reminds us of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It symbolizes hope, comfort, and redemption. The cross on a headstone can also create a connection to the spiritual dimension and express the belief in life beyond death.

15. Headstone with Heart

The heart is perhaps the most well-known symbol of love and connection. It signifies a deep affection and remembrance for the deceased. A heart symbol on a headstone stands for a loving relationship, whether between spouses, parents and children, or friends. It serves as a reminder that love and deep bonds endure beyond death.


16. Headstone with Christ

Religious connection, comfort in the arms of Christ: This is what the Christ symbol on the headstone represents. Christ is often depicted with open arms, symbolizing love, mercy, and forgiveness. It reminds of the faith in Christ as the Savior and Redeemer.


17. Headstone with Musical Notes

Music is a universal language that unites all faiths and people. For this reason, the musical notes symbol on a headstone represents much more than just the passion of the deceased for music. It provides comfort and keeps the memory of the deceased's interests and talents alive.

Gravestone Symbols for Special Meanings and Emotions

Symbols of Vitality and Life Force:

  • A tree trunk growing from a sapling: Symbolizes the strength and resilience of life.
  • Flame motif: Represents the energy and fire of life.


Symbols of Love and Connection:

  • Hands embracing: Symbolize the deep bond between spouses or loved ones.
  • Doves sharing a nest: Stand for love, fidelity, and peace.


Symbols of Protection and Security:

  • Angel figures or wings on a gravestone: Intended to provide comfort and security, symbolizing that the deceased is being guarded by angels or has ascended to heaven. They remind us that the departed is now in a place of peace and safety.


Symbols of Connection to Nature:

  • Roses: Stand for beauty and transience.
  • Tree: Symbolizes life in all its aspects, from the roots to the branches.
  • Birds: Represent freedom and the aspiration to reach higher.


Symbols of Eternal Life and Remembrance:

  • Rising sun: Symbolizes hope and the promise of a new day.
  • Infinity symbol: Represents the concept of eternity and infiniteness.



Incorporating Symbols into the Headstone

The stonemason has various options to integrate the desired symbols into the headstone. The most common method is engraving. This is carried out using specialized tools, such as chisels or diamond tips. The stonemason follows the template and carves the desired symbol or text into the stone. The depth of the engraving can vary according to your preferences. Engraving allows for a detailed representation of symbols and is also long-lasting.

Another option is sandblasting symbols onto the headstone. With modern technology, symbols can be projected onto the stone, allowing for particularly precise work. This method achieves even the finest, high-contrast details and intricate symbols.

Particularly important symbols can also be highlighted with color. Whether the chosen colors are the preferences of the bereaved or the deceased's favorite colors is entirely up to you.

If the symbol is not to be directly incorporated into the headstone, but rather to complement the grave itself, they can also be made from materials like bronze or stainless steel and placed in front of the stone. The chosen materials give the symbols a special durability and resistance to weather conditions.

It's important: When designing the headstone, consider the symbols in conjunction with the inscription. A harmonious combination of symbols and text ensures a cohesive overall appearance of the headstone.


How much does a headstone with symbols cost?

A headstone with symbols is naturally more expensive than a simple headstone with just an inscription. The additional costs vary depending on the shape and type of the chosen symbol - a symbol can be engraved into the stone, sit as a bronze ornament on the stone, or even define the shape of the headstone itself. The stonemason will advise you on the additional costs depending on the materials and labor involved.



Symbols on headstones are a beautiful way to create a very personal and special memorial for the deceased. They also give the memorials a more beautiful and noble appearance.

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