What to Write in a Celebration of Life Guestbook: 18 Ideas

Updated

Funeral and celebration of life guestbooks provide families with a simple confirmation of who attended. This record helps them know to whom and where to send thank you notes. As such, guests will commonly write just their names and addresses. 

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All that said, traditions are ever-changing. What might be customary in one family may not be in others. So, let’s take a look at a few ideas that include signage, themes, and even what to write in a celebration of life guestbook.

"Please Sign the Celebration of Life Guestbook" Message Ideas

Many people don’t know what to write in a condolence book or guestbook besides their name. Here’s an opportunity for you to give guests a little prompt so they know that addresses, as well as short messages, are appreciated.

1. “Please leave a message for the family or a favorite memory.”

If there’s an online funeral guest book, chances are there’ll be room for you to leave more than just a name and address. There, the family may request that you also leave a note or message. 

2. “Please sign the guestbook and leave a special note.”

In the case of large gatherings, it’s not always easy to connect all the dots of each of your loved one’s acquaintances. A short note offers an opportunity to trigger a conversation you may have had with them at the ceremony.

3. “In Memory of Our Dad: Please leave your name and address.”

Here’s an appropriate message for small, intimate gatherings. In this case, just a name and address work to record the event.

4. “Please sign the guestbook. Feel welcome to leave a thought, prayer, or memory.”

If you’ve opted for a blank guestbook, your guests will have more room to leave small memories and messages to the family. As this is a relatively new tradition unfolding, a sign to invite their thoughts will help.

5. “Write your favorite joke.”

Most celebration of life ceremonies include smiles, laughter, and good stories. And if your dad was like mine, he loved a good joke so much that he’d make up his own. So, invite your guests to share one in your loved one’s honor.

6. “Jack was loved by…Please leave your name and a note for Grandpa Jack.”

In a celebration of life ceremony, it’s perfectly acceptable to add some personality to the signage. After all, your loved one was anything but formal, and they’d appreciate the familiarity.

Personalized Celebration of Life Guestbook Ideas for Titles, Themes, and Fill-in-the-Blank Questions

Store-bought guestbooks leave very little room for themes or anything besides the guest’s name and address. If you prefer, you might consider making your own using a creative theme similar to the ones below.

7. “Imprints of Love.”

No two fingerprints or thumbprints are alike—not even identical twins can claim their prints match. Each one is a story and song of days and hours at work or rest for every person.

Here’s a fun idea for a unique keepsake. In the guestbook, draw a music staff on each page for your guests to leave thumbprints as music notes. Frame an example along with the following question:

“In what ways did your life improve by knowing your lost loved one?”

You’ll need:

  • Music-themed guestbook 
  • Washable ink pads 
  • Pens
  • Wet and dry cloths

After the ceremony, commission a musician and graphic artist to develop a song and video to honor your loved one. Send copies via MP4 to those who attended.

8. “I Keep You in My Heart”

When you lose a loved one, you experience a loss of experiences, words, and moments that you’ll cherish in your heart for always.

Purchase small wooden hearts from the craft store as well as a frame that has an open slot at the top. Leave this next to a heart-themed guestbook and table so that after guests sign their names on the hearts, they can drop them inside for a beautiful keepsake.

Ask guests: “How did our lost loved one improve how you see the world and treat others?”

You’ll need:

  • Heart-themed guestbook
  • Pens and markers
  • Small wooden hearts
  • A personalized frame 
  • Heart stickers for guests to wear

Once all of the guests have signed their names to the wooden hearts and guestbook, you’ll begin to see a room of people wearing red hearts on their lapels.

9. “The Tree of Life”

Trees are protectors of humans. They bring us shelter from the cold, keep us warm and dry by a fire, and give us the air we breathe. 

Set up a table with boughs and a basket filled with birch rounds instead of a traditional guestbook. Leave a few examples so that the guests see to write their names on one side and answer the writing prompt on the back. 

Include the following framed excerpt from a poem by Carmen Bugan: 

Tree rings, each cradled in the next,
Each as evidence of what the world has offered
And how the tree has worked with it;
How one grew round the other,
Strengthening the core with its own essence…

Here’s the prompt: “In three words or less, describe our lost loved one.”

You’ll need:

  • Basket of birch rounds
  • Jute 
  • Pine boughs
  • A framed poem
  • Markers

Now that you have a collection of names on the birch tags, you can decorate another tree during the holidays in honor of your loved one. Fill it up with bright white lights and take some photos to send to those who attended the celebration of life.

10. “My Jar Is Full”

The message behind the rock, pebble, and the sand story is about creating space for that which matters versus what is transient or unhelpful to life—our loved ones.

Next to the cairn-pictured guestbook, leave some stones so that guests can write their names on them. Stack a few nearby the jars of pebbles and sand.

Leave the prompt: “What remarkable ways did our lost loved one support you?”

You’ll need:

  • Cairn-themed guestbook
  • Pens and markers
  • Store-bought stones
  • Jars of pebbles and sand

During the eulogy, recite the analogy to the guests using the rocks they signed to visually express the value they held in the life of your loved one.

Message Ideas for Guests to Write in a Celebration of Life Guestbook

Some people draw a blank when requested to write anything, even some brief words. If that sounds like you, look below for some quick message ideas to write in a condolence book

11. “Peter was such an important figure in the community and our hearts. He’ll truly be missed.”

Often, just a few words of encouragement will help a family that is grieving. If you’re stuck, you can use their role in the community or church, how appreciated they were at Saturday morning coffee with the guys, or even how people loved him as a neighbor. 

12. “George was the rowdiest one of us, but he also had the biggest heart.”

Cousins have the inside scoop on childhood behaviors, which makes their notes the most unique of all. Here’s a chance for you to let the survivors know a bit of the decedent’s young personality.

13. “Phyllis often used to say, 'It is what it is.’ And while the sentiment was short, it got me through a lot of bad days.”

Everyone has a saying on which they rely. Some of those sayings even get stuck in your head from time to time. If you can recall one of those tidbits of wisdom, use it here and then explain its importance to your life.

14. “I worked with Barb for 25 years, and were it not for her good humor and friendship, I wouldn’t have lasted there more than two.”

Explain your relationship with the deceased in a quick message. If you weren’t a coworker, maybe you were their hairstylist for 25 years. No matter the case, this will give the family recognition of whose lives were impacted by their loved one.

15. “Mrs. Woodard was my speech pathologist and homeroom teacher. I’m so grateful for her care and will always remember how she helped me find confidence in myself.” 

Teaching is one of those professions we all hold in high praise. We may not remember all of the beautiful people that helped us grow and mature, but there are a few that stand out as matriarchs and patriarchs of the community—and childhood. 

16. “Joe’s faith inspired me during difficult times.”

Let the family know that you were familiar with the deceased because they were a member of your church community. Often, when kids move away and parents pass away, they want to map out their daily life through the words of those left behind. 

17. “Every time there was a snowstorm, you’d see Gene out with a shovel the next morning helping his neighbors get to work on time.”

Every neighbor knows that one person who went above and beyond neighborly duties, no matter how old they got. And while families may see this trait, it’s helpful for them to know that others also appreciated their dad’s labor.

18. “May God bless and keep Timothy for all the days through.”

As a friend to a parent who lost their child, your grief will be insurmountable as well. So, keep the message brief and kind, and let your support say the rest of what you’re thinking.

Records of Attendance

Funerals and celebration of life ceremonies can be overwhelming. The grief, people, and activity combined can leave memories a little foggy. That’s why guestbooks are so important.

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