9 Gift Ideas Using a Deceased Loved One’s Handwriting


Like fingerprints and DNA, handwriting is unique to each individual. Looking at the handwriting of a deceased loved one can help you feel closer and more connected to them long after they’re gone. 

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Handwritten artifacts like letters can make for a lovely memento. But over time, they can also break down with repeated handling. If you want to treasure the handwriting of a loved one for many years to come, it’s important to preserve it. Copying or digitizing handwriting ensures that you’ll have examples of it on hand whenever you want to see it. 

Once you take the time to preserve your loved one’s handwriting, you can also incorporate it in thoughtful keepsake gifts for yourself or other friends and family members. Here, we’ll talk more about the special ways you can memorialize this unique characteristic. 

How Do You Copy or Digitize Your Deceased Loved One’s Handwriting?

The proliferation of affordable and accessible technology makes it surprisingly easy to digitize a loved one’s handwriting. Several different programs and apps exist to help streamline the process. And when it comes to tools, you may find that you already have everything you need.

When looking at apps and computer programs, you’ll find that they generally fall into two categories. Some apps capture your handwriting in real-time using a stylus and a screen. While these programs are great for art and graphic design projects, they aren’t practical when memorializing the handwriting of someone who has passed away. Instead, look for programs that will allow you to scan or incorporate photographs. 

The most straightforward way to preserve someone’s handwriting is to use the camera on a smartphone to photograph it. If you have a printer at home, you can check to see if it has a scanning function. If you don’t feel like your home scanner is up to par, you can also visit a professional print shop and have them scan handwritten letters or notes, then email you the digital files. 

Once you’ve scanned or photographed your handwriting, you can use an app or program to enhance it. Start by making the background as light as possible while darkening the letters as much as possible to create contrast. Depending on what program you use, you may also adjust the brightness and contrast. 

Again, depending on the program you use, you can play around with removing the background so that the handwriting becomes its own layer. Then you can manipulate this handwriting to be used in all kinds of clever ways, including as the basis for a variety of keepsake gifts.

Holiday Gift Ideas Using a Deceased Loved One’s Handwriting

For many people, the holidays are a time for families to gather together. When a loved one dies, their absence can feel even more painful and prominent during the holiday season. Giving thoughtful gifts that celebrate a deceased loved one is the perfect way to keep their memory alive and include them in your holiday celebration. Including unique elements like handwriting will make these gifts especially memorable.

1. Wooden recipe board

During the holiday season, many people make recipes that have been passed down through generations of their families. If you have a handwritten recipe card from a beloved grandparent, you can share it with other family members as a thoughtful gift they can treasure.

Scan the recipe, and find an online artist who can transfer your scan onto a wooden board. The resulting gift is practical and puts a treasured recipe into the hands of other family members. It also makes a lovely and timeless kitchen decoration. Etsy is a great website to find makers like this. 

2. Love letter blanket

Textile workers are incredibly skilled at incorporating a variety of mediums into their work. If you know someone who lost a spouse, see if you can scan a love letter their late loved one wrote for them. Then contact a textile artist or a company that makes custom blankets. They can work with your file to print a blanket with a large, enhanced handwriting image. Whenever the recipient misses the embrace of their loved one, they can keep warm with a lovingly crafted blanket instead.

3. Family tree

If you have access to handwriting samples from several deceased family members, you can incorporate them all into one special gift. Find samples of their signatures, and then get living family members to write their signatures for you. Then, lay out a family tree. Each branch then uses the handwriting of family members, both living and dead, to fill in their names and relationships. This family tree is more than a memorial gift—it will become a treasured gift for multiple family members. 

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Death Anniversary Gift Ideas Using a Deceased Loved One’s Handwriting

When someone dies, their friends and family members will be offered a flurry of support in the days and weeks immediately following the death. But as time goes on, these gestures of support start to taper off as people are distracted by their own lives. Giving a gift on the anniversary of a death is a beautiful way to show ongoing support to grieving people. Incorporating the handwriting of the deceased makes the gesture even more special.

4. Handwriting jewelry

Several different jewelry makers have become adept at incorporating handwriting into their work. Some will create nameplate necklaces in the handwriting of someone who has passed away. Others will engrave rings or other jewelry in the style of a deceased person’s handwriting. Jewelry is already a lovely and meaningful gift during the holiday season, so including handwriting on a piece of jewelry elevates its status to something extra-special.

5. DIY memory box

In the immediate aftermath of a loved one’s death, it can be hard to look at the belongings they left behind. The presence of treasured items can highlight the absence of the person they belonged to. But as time passes, loved ones may long to have artifacts that remind them of those they have lost. Assemble a memory box of objects that belonged to or resonated strongly with the deceased, including handwritten letters and documents for a thoughtful and meaningful gift. 

6. Engraved picture frame

Handwriting isn’t the only tangible reminder of loved ones who have died. Photos are another way we can keep their memory fresh in our minds. If you have a special photograph of the deceased, you can place it in a wooden photo frame with an engraving of their handwriting. This memory frame idea is a great way to bring multiple concepts together in one gift.

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Sympathy Gift Ideas Using a Deceased Loved One’s Handwriting

When someone close to you loses a loved one, it can be challenging to know what to say or do to help them feel better. One of the most challenging emotions that people grapple with is the feeling that they won't get to create new memories with their lost loved ones. Giving them a sympathy gift that includes a personal touch, like the deceased's handwriting, is a powerful gesture of comfort. 

7. Professionally-printed photo book

Many online services will help you print a professional-quality photo book for a very reasonable price. Many of these sites will host projects for an extended period, so you can even have multiple copies made over time.

You can upload photos into pre-set layouts or customize your own design. Upload a combination of photos and scanned love notes or other handwritten messages. This thoughtful and highly-customized gift can be delivered to the recipient within a matter of days. 

8. Framed artwork collage

Many children are prolific artists who love to share their artwork with friends and family members. When a child dies, a comprehensive and colorful collection of artwork may be the most personal items they leave behind.

If you have a friend or family member who has lost a child, you can gather bits of their artwork from your own home and other friends. Frame the artwork in a sizable collage-style frame and gift it to the grieving parents. This kind of gift helps to preserve special memories.  

9. Pillow with embroidered handwriting

Some artisans can make magic with a needle and a little thread. If you look at websites like Etsy, you can find several artisans who can do embroidery that mimics specific handwriting. You can work with them to provide handwriting samples that they can use for their artwork.

You can have this embroidery applied to any number of gifts, but a pillow makes a perfect sympathy gift. Many of us need something tangible to hold when we miss our late loved ones. A pillow embroidered in their handwriting is ideal for squeezing when we can no longer hug a loved one. 

Keeping Memories Alive With Handwriting-Based Gifts

We all have a limited amount of time on this planet. But long after we die, pieces of us remain. Our loved ones can keep us alive in their memories, and they can also turn to more tangible ways to preserve a connection. Gifts that incorporate the handwriting of someone who has passed away can bring comfort to those who are grieving. Handwriting-based gifts can help us feel like our loved ones are still part of our lives long after they have left us.    

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