Figure 1. Stafford monument. Presbyterian Church Cemetery of Hancock, PA. Photo: author.

Almira W.
Wife of
NOV. 12, 1875
Aged 53 Y’s, 10 M’s
& 11 days
We are lonely since
our Mother died.

The brief epitaph on this stone stands out against the great number of its peers. Rather than falling into euphemisms such as that Almira is “asleep in Jesus,” or “passed away,” or that they are happy she is no longer with them but in sunnier climes, the Stafford children directly and honestly confronted the loss of their mother: whatever the fate of her immortal soul (let’s hope for the best), she “died,” and they were “lonely.”

Perhaps they selected this lapidary epitaph from an undertaker’s pamphlet of appropriate inscriptions: these were common. Still, they rooted through the clunkers and arrived at this elegant one, and they are to be commended for it.

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Scranton, PA

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