Memorial to my Father

June 13, 2019

Memorial to my Father

Memorial to my Father

Recently, I have found myself making my own father’s memorial which has been a poignant and an emotional experience. My father, Dr Christopher Burns-Cox, died on the 29th June 2018 after a short illness. He is now buried under a simple oak tree near Bristol.

My father achieved a great many things in his life but this was difficult to illustrate on a memorial stone so we decided to keep it simple.

The memorial is made from Purbeck Limestone measuring 45 x 45 x 5 cm and weighs 23 kg. It has two small carved reliefs of an oak leaf and an acorn as my father loved trees. Over his lifetime, he grew a small arboretum with a wide range of oak trees at his home in Gloucestershire.

My father was a General Consultant Physician who specialised in diabetes and was based at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol for many years. When he was a young doctor, he went to work in Borneo and Malaysia as Regional Medical Officer, and later over the years, travelled throughout the world lecturing, teaching and helping others.

At the end of his life, he decided that more needed to be done for kidney patients who spent many years of their lives waiting for a transplant so he set up a charity with others called ‘Give a Kidney’. He then decided that he should give one of his own kidney’s to a patient as an altruistic donor. This selfless act of generosity really summed up my father. He spent his whole life trying to help others who were unwell or less fortunate than himself  which was what made him special. He is remembered with much love and affection by us all.


When it comes to choosing a Memorial, there are a few things you will need to consider at this difficult time. Do not try to rush into making a decision immediately. It is better to wait for at least six months to a year or more before you decide on how to commemorate the loved one. Discuss with your family and friends on what would be an appropriate epitaph for the deceased. Think about how you would like the person to be remembered and what would be the most appropriate wording.


You should think about what inscription you would like, as this will dictate the size, shape and style of the Memorial. Some people choose poems, short text or just a few words. The style of the lettering will also need to be considered as this will take up space. Will it be san serif, a modern script or Italics which are more relaxed ?

You will also need to decide whether you want  the Memorial to be of a modern or traditional design either with a complex relief or just a simple stone? Often the more simple Memorial can be the more poignant.

You may want to have a relief or carving included on the Memorial. There are many symbols which have been used on Memorials over the centuries representing love, peace or eternal life.


An angel is the messenger between God and man while a bird or dove represents peace and love. A heart symbolizes life, love and immortality while the poppy represents death, eternal sleep and peace. In Scotland, The Celtic Cross or Thistle is very popular. For my father, we chose the oak leaf and an acorn which represents patience, faith, power, endurance, and strength.

It is also important to decide on what type of stone should be used for the Memorial. Do you want it light or dark in colour ? It will also need to be resistant to the climate, particularly in Scotland, as it will be in the churchyard for a long time.

My father’s memorial had to be made from Purbeck Limestone because of the cemetery rules in Bristol although I would have preferred to have used a more robust type of stone. As with all things in life, you do need to think about the rules and regulations. All churchyards have different requirements so it is important to find out what they require.


If you would like to discuss your requirements, please contact Simon Burns-Cox who is a Sculptor and Letter Carver based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Simon makes bespoke Gravestones, Memorials and Headstones in all sizes and dimensions and will be happy to help and guide you through the decisions at this difficult time. Simon can be contact at or [email protected]

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