10 Ways to Pay Tribute to a Loved One
Traditional memorial services capture the essence of a loved one. However, each individual brings something unique to this world, so you’ll want the memorial service to be unique to them.
If you’re wondering how to plan a memorial service, it is natural to gravitate towards the usual services – traditional burials, services at funeral homes. If you’re one to think outside the box, here are ten ways you can personalize your loved one’s memorial service:
1. Choose a Song From Your Loved One’s Collection
“Amazing Grace” is a popular memorial song. It’s sung at many Western funerals. Although it’s a lovely hymn, your loved one may never have listened to it, much less enjoyed its solemn tone. Not to mention, “Amazing Grace” doesn’t reveal any interesting or personal details regarding the deceased.
Although playing “Amazing Grace” is a funeral tradition, that shouldn’t stop you from choosing a song that better reflects your loved one’s life.
For example, Wreaths Across America memorialized U.S. Marine Corps Corporal Patrick Nixon by playing “Arlington,” written by Dave Turnbull, who passed away in March 2003 in Iraq.
One way to find a memorial song that breaks the mold is to go through your loved one’s music collection. You may find a piece that held high importance to them.
Some popular contemporary memorial service songs include:
- Bette Midler – Wind Beneath My Wings
- Puff Daddy (Sean Combs) – I’ll Be Missing You
- Frank Sinatra – My Way
- Eric Clapton – Tears in Heaven
- Elton John – Candle in the Wind
2. Select the Right Location
There’s more to the phrase “home is where the heart is” than you’d think. There was likely at least one place in your loved one’s life where they felt at home. Maybe it was a summer getaway at which they always associated with peace and enjoyment.
Selecting the ideal place to hold the memorial service can be tricky if you overthink it, especially if you want the service accessible to all of those who wish to pay their respects. The location doesn’t have to be extravagant, just meaningful. Keep in mind that if you want to spread your loved one’s ashes at a public place, you should request permission from the landowner.
3. Find an Appropriate Reading
Religious scriptures, poems, and other readings are common at funerals, but that doesn’t mean you must stick with theological text. Has your loved one ever spoken fondly of a book or poem? Take a look at their bookshelf. Which one seems to be the most used?
There’s a reason why that book appealed to your loved one, so why not give memorial attendees a glimpse into their perspective? It’s a unique option that can tell a lot about your loved one.
If your loved one is still alive and well, don’t hesitate to ask them about how they would like to be honored. It stands to reason that your loved one should have a say in how they will be remembered.
4. Design Custom Jewelry in the Memory
A tradition that goes back to the Middle Ages, creating custom jewelry is a unique and personal way to honor your loved one. You can make jewelry engraved with their handwriting, fingerprints, handprints, footprints, or even their cremated remains or locks of hair.
You can incorporate these materials into pieces such as necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and rings. Some ways that you can customize jewelry specifically for your loved one include:
- Featuring their birthstone
- Having the piece engraved with their handwriting, birth date, anniversary date, or a quote from your loved one
- Featuring a charm or engraving of something that symbolizes your loved one
- Objects that hold special meaning set in resin
5. Releasing Doves or Butterflies
Releasing these beautiful creatures can be a way to symbolize your loved one’s spirit being set free, which can be comforting for some people. This display can be a touching tribute to your loved ones and provide a visual representation to inspire feelings of closure. Doves and butterflies represent peace, joy, and healing. Many funeral homes offer this service on request.
6. Give Back To the Community
One way to honor a loved one’s memory is to perform a service for the community. You could volunteer for a cause that was meaningful to your loved one. Some ways you can honor a loved one’s memory and legacy include:
- Volunteering for organizations such as March of Dimes, Toys for Tots, Habitat for Humanity, or the ASPCA.
- Donate to a charity
- Creating a fundraiser or hosting a charitable event in your loved one’s name
- Create an advocacy group for a cause your loved one was passionate about
- Participate in a marathon
- Adopt a highway, park, or landmark in their name.
- Create an educational scholarship in their name
- Plant trees in their memory
If you would like to donate to a charity in your loved one’s name and would like to verify the organization or find out if your donations may be tax-deductible, please visit the Tax Exempt Organization Search page powered by the Internal Revenue Service.
7. Create a Digital Memorial Page or Obituary
In the digital age, many are memorializing their loved ones with online memorials. An online memorial can be a website or social media page that is dedicated to their loved one.
Online memorials can feature photos, videos, and other digital items representing your loved ones and their passions and achievements.
Creating a digital memorial page or obituary is a great way to share memories with many people and is easily accessible at any time. Many funeral homes offer this type of service and have obituaries that can be accessed on their website. For tips on how to write an obituary, click here.
8. Create Natural Memorials
Planting a memorial garden or remembrance garden can serve as a celebration of life. You can research the meanings of plants or choose plants your loved one was fond of. You can also add features such as a bench, statues, or a koi pond that provides you a peaceful, quiet environment where you can reflect.
9. Create a Memory Table
Memory tables and memory boards feature photos and other items that represent our loved one’s life. They can be displayed at a wake, funeral, or reception.
The items can be symbolic of our loved one’s passions, interests, and relationships. In addition, these items will tell a story of their life and inspire precious memories.
Memory boards can display photographs and other 2-D items that show cherished memories and important moments in our loved one’s life. And these items do not have to be limited to their adult life; they can span an entire lifetime, as a testament to a life well lived that is now being celebrated.
A memory table or remembrance table features 3-D items, perhaps your loved ones’ personal items or offerings and gifts given by others in their honor. For more information on how to organize a memorial service, click here.
10. Have an Event
Some non-traditional events that you can hold in memory of your loved one include:
- Viewing a film, perhaps a film that they loved or had special meaning
- Gather family and friends for a meal at your loved one’s favorite restaurants, where you can share memories and reminisce. Or, host a potluck where guests can bring their loved one’s favorite recipes.
- Watch your loved one’s favorite team at a sports game.
You Can Honor Your Loved Ones, Your Way
There are a variety of ways that you can honor a loved one’s memory. Every family is different, and while many value tradition, you may want to consider other options. Take into account how your loved ones want to be remembered and ways that will inspire respect and healing.
National Cremation is the nation’s oldest and largest provider of simple and affordable cremation services. Whether you have an immediate need or want to plan your cremation services in advance, we’re always available to assist you and your family. Contact us online or call (855)-469-9474 today.