MNN Galleries

What do those cemetery symbols mean?

By: Angela Nelson on Feb. 21, 2017, 8:23 a.m.
A book-shaped tombstone

Photo: Carlos Amarillo/Shutterstock

1 of 19

Rest in peace

The thought of visiting a cemetery may make you uneasy, but these hushed places are so much more than the final resting place of a multitude of souls.

As you stroll through — reading the names of the deceased, the inscriptions on their tombstones, and the symbols displayed on their graves — you may be surprised by a growing sense of calm as you learn the stories a cemetery can tell. Gravestone symbols offer a tiny glimpse into someone's former life — a way to share what they stood for long after they were gone.

In fact, cemetery symbolism isn’t scary at all — it’s a beautiful, compelling part of these quiet green spaces. Here's what some of that symbolism means.