Meaning of different symbols and signs that can appear on graves and tombstones.
Broken Column: The broken column symbolizes the sudden end of life.
Anchor: is the symbol for fortitude, determination and loyalty. Often used with sailors graves.
Baby Feet : Mark for a stillborn child, a symbol of the steps that never have been taken.
Flower (or broken flower ) : The flower symbolizes the soul, just as the flower reaches for the sunlight, the soul reaches to God. The flower also represents the transience of earthly life.
Pigeon: The dove is a symbol of love. Sitting on the grave a dove symbolizes the soul of the deceased, which gathers force for the journey to the afterlife.
Often, the dove is displayed along with two hands, the dove (soul) is then released.
Torch : The inverted torch is the symbol of the extinguished life, death. A burning torch refers to a new life, the resurrection. Often, the two torches crosswise shown.
Heart: is the symbol of love and fidelity. The relationship between husband and wife. The thorns around the heart are the sins that man committed, flames represent the love of Christ.
Ear: The ear of corn symbolizes the bread , think of the Eucharist or the Last Supper, where the bread symbolizes the body of Christ.
Lily of the Valley: is the symbol of Christ as the bringer of salvation and the gospel.
Olive: The olive branch symbolizes peace, reconciliation and hope. Often in combination with the (peace) dove carrying an olive branch brought back to Noah in his Ark
Palm Branch: The palm branch symbolizes the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem , but also for the victory over death.
Rose: The rose symbolizes the suffering of Christ , the five leaves pointing to his five wounds.
Today, the rose symbolizes love and a snapped off rose represents a too young deceased person who has gone in the prime of his life.
Skull: It is a symbol of the brevity of life
Skull and crossbones are vanitas symbol ( Vanitas represents vanity)
The skull and crossbones refer to the temporary nature of our earthly life.
Weeping willow: Not only the weeping willow , but each weeping tree symbolizes the sadness, the drooping branches represent the tears that flow to the earth.
Birds: Birds symbolize freedom , but also for the unattainable.
Often some species of birds ( eg crow) seen as a harbinger of death.
Sun: Stands for the light of the Supreme. Usually half display. This may be at the end of life mean, sunset, or the beginning of a new life ( resurrection) , the sunrise.