Many of the symbols we still use today during funeral services and graveyard designs were from the Victorian era. The Victorians had many symbols in regard to death, which they incorporated into their funeral artifacts and ceremonies. Here is a list of common symbols and their meanings.
Lamb - This is commonly used in a child’s grave, symbolic of innocence and purity.
Hand pointing downward - Mortality or sudden death. It could also be a depiction of a secret Masonic handshake.
Hand pointing upward - The reward of the righteous, confirmation of life after death, heavenly reward, and ascension to heaven. If thehands are clasped it means friendship or it is referring to the husband and wife dynamic.
Pyramid - It is a symbol of eternity. It was believed that a pyramid-shaped tombstone prevented the devil from reclining on a grave.
The Star of David - The six pointed star, also known as the Magen David (Hebrew for Shield of David), is made of two triangles. It signifies divine protection epitomized by the alchemistic signs for fire and water which are an upward and downward apexes traingle.
Anchor - It is a Symbol of hope. Early Christians used the anchor as a disguised cross, and as a marker to guide the way to secret meeting places.
Angels - The agent of God, often pointing towards heaven; guardians of the dead, symbolizing spirituality. Angels lead the soul to the afterlife.
Wreath - A symbol of eternity and the circle of life. Mourning wreaths may be laurel leaves, sheaves of wheat, flowers, etc.
Open or closed book - The deadhave much to teach the living. It could also mean faith, prayer, knowledge, memory, or of scholarly attributes.
Drapery - Drapery is often seen in the home of the deceased, over portraits or mirrors. It also represents the funerary shrouds.
Hourglass -Time’s inevitable passing, attribute of death and Father Time. It also represents the shortness of life.
Scroll - a symbol of life and time.
Urn - Greek symbol of mourning. It also symbolizes the body as a vessel of the soul. This originated as a repository for the ashes of the dead in ancient times. An urn with flames is the soul arising triumphantly out of the ashes of death, like a Phoenix.
Moon/ Stars/ Sun - It represents the heavenly home of the blessed.
Winged face – It represents effigy of the soul of the deceased. It is common on eighteenth century markers.
Calla lily – It represents beauty and marriage.
Forget Me Not – a symbol of remembrance and repose.
Ivy – It symbolizes memory, immortality, friendship, fidelity, faithfulness, undying affection, eternal life.
Lily Of the Valley- It is symbolic for return of happiness, purity, and humility.
Weeping Willow – It is nature’s lament, and a symbol of sorrow and mourning.