How to Memorialize Loved Ones
“I Will Remember You . . .”
The singer-songwriter Sara McLachlan’s song “I Will Remember You,” reminds us that a
person’s story has two parts: their memories of us, and our memories of them. You play an
important part in telling your loved one’s story after they die.
Finding ways to memorialize someone not only honors the person who is gone, but may also give you some comfort in sharing your memories. You may find that part of your grieving process is finding ways to share
the memory of them. You may want to find ways to showcase who your loved one and how
much they meant to you.
Some choose to memorialize a loved one immediately, through a service, and some want to wait and remember them once the grief is not so raw. And no matter when you choose to remember your loved one, it is sure to bring you a flood of emotions, all of which are valid.
Here are just a few ways to remember your loved that may inspire you to memorialize them;
you can adapt any of these ideas to best suit you.
Create a Legacy
You might consider starting a small charitable foundation or scholarship in honor of your loved
one. Many non-profits, including Faith & Grief Ministries, can create a designated fund to
support the organization’s work. Local school districts and universities can also create a
scholarship to meet student’s financial needs.
When my husband’s grandmother died, she asked that her small estate be donated to a local
university. She had worked in the legal field and loved competitive debate. Her small donation
now is grown through the university’s endowment and funds their nationally ranked debate
Keep the Party Going
Some choose not to have a full funeral but host a memorial and even a memorial party. You can
plan for the whole family to reunite and commemorate your loved one’s passing. Hosting this
event may help if some were unable to attend the funeral or be there to say goodbye.
When my uncle died, he didn’t want a funeral. He asked my Aunt to host a party with family,
friends, and colleagues. Over 200 people attended and gave testimonials and speeches about
what my uncle had meant to them and how he influenced their lives.
Hearing their stories gave us a complete picture of my uncle’s full story.
Visit their Dreams
After a close family member or friend has passed away, it might be healing for you to take their
closest friends and family on a trip. Take that road trip that they always talked about, spread
her ashes on a beach in Cancun, or light a candle for her in a church in Rome. Visit the places
that were special to them or you both.
My grandmother always wanted to see the tulips in the Netherlands. She talked about the trip
all the time, though she never got to go there. A few years ago, I did get to go and see them.
The tulips were beautiful. The experience was overwhelming but in a good way. The whole time
I thought of how much she would have loved to be there, too.
You can memorialize your loved one in any way you feel represents them and their life. You can tell their story any way you want, it’s really up to how creative you want to be. I also recommend the book, Passed & Present, by author and reporter, Allison Gilbert. The book highlights many simple ideas for keeping the memories of your loved ones alive.