The loss of a loved one can be a deeply painful and profound experience. Although it is possible to learn how to accept death with greater peace, it’s still natural to miss someone for a long time after their passing.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Does It Mean to Memorialize Someone?
- Ideas for Memorializing a Loved One During a Ceremony or Service
- Ideas for Memorializing a Loved One at Home
- Ideas for Memorializing a Loved One Outdoors, In a Public Place, or Other Area
Fortunately, there are also steps you can take to keep someone’s spirit and memory alive by memorializing them. This ensures that while they’re not technically with you anymore, you and others will always remember the important role they played in life.
Still, you may have a question: How do you memorialize someone?
There’s no “right” answer. There are many ways you can memorialize a lost loved one. The following are just a few ideas worth considering.
COVID-19 tip: If you're planning a Zoom memorial service using a service like GatheringUs, the order of service, etiquette, and timing will vary. Consult with the funeral director, event planner, or religious leader to see what changes will be made to the ceremony, wake, and reception. And, make sure to add the proper links, passcodes, online funeral etiquette, and troubleshooting instructions to your online guests at least a day or two before the funeral.
Tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, making choices on the memorial and handling their unfinished business can be overwhelming without a way to organize your process. We have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.
What Does It Mean to Memorialize Someone?
Memorializing involves celebrating a person after their death. In many cases, a memorial highlights a particular strength or aspect of the person’s character. For instance, on Memorial Day, we remember those who bravely sacrificed their lives in the armed forces.
That’s just one example. The following suggestions will help you better understand what memorializing someone means, and how you can memorialize someone in a variety of ways.
Ideas for Memorializing a Loved One During a Ceremony or Service
A funeral or service is one of the most appropriate times to memorialize someone. These ideas can help you do so properly:
1. Memorial video
A video featuring clips from a loved one’s life is a popular way to memorialize someone during a ceremony or service because it can illustrate their personality in a very dynamic and moving way.
2. Encourage donations
Instead of accepting money as a condolence gift, you could memorialize someone during their ceremony by encouraging those in attendance to donate to a relevant charity.
3. Play a song in their honor
If you’re a talented musician, consider scheduling a time during a loved one’s funeral or ceremony to play a song.
A memorial song could be their favorite tune, but if you’re confident in your songwriting abilities, you might write and perform an original composition in their memory. Consider further memorializing your loved one by recording the song and making it available to friends and family.
4. Light candles
Many companies will provide you with customized memorial candles that you can arrange for guests to light during a ceremony. However, you need to make sure the venue will allow you to do so. They may have safety rules that only allow for a certain number of candles.
5. Serve their favorite meal
This could be a creative idea to consider when thinking about how to memorialize someone during a ceremony after the actual funeral. If food was one of your loved one’s great passions, a unique way to memorialize them could involve serving one of their favorite meals to guests.
6. Wear pins
Anyone wondering “How do you memorialize someone?” may remember that a memorial doesn’t need to be a grand gesture. In some instances, a subtle approach is enough to honor someone’s memory.
For example, you and others at a funeral or ceremony might wear small pins or ribbons that symbolize an appropriate idea or issue, such as pink ribbons for someone who passed away from breast cancer.
7. Collect memories
Another common way to memorialize someone during a funeral is to set aside a notebook, box, or another medium where guests can leave written statements about their favorite memories involving a loved one.
Ideas for Memorializing a Loved One at Home
Memorializing a loved one at home can help you cope with their absence. Consider these ideas if you think a home memorial will bring you comfort:
Many effective home memorials consist of pictures of a loved one set aside in key spots. You could modify this common option by commissioning a painting of a loved one (or painting it yourself).
9. Memorial stone
A memorial stone is a stone featuring a loved one’s name. It may also include quotes or illustrations. You can place this stone somewhere in the yard where it will remain safe but noticeable.
10. Memorial jewelry
This option allows you to memorialize someone both at home and in public. Many companies and artisans can gladly create personalized memorial jewelry in the form of necklaces, bracelets, and much more.
11. Birthday parties
There are many different types of grief. A memorial gesture that brings comfort to one person might not be as helpful for someone else.
That said, some people take comfort in memorializing lost loved ones by hosting birthday parties in their honor every year, inviting friends and family to celebrate their memory.
If you choose to cremate a loved one you can easily memorialize them at home by placing the urn containing their remains in a special place.
13. Memorial website
The digital age has provided us with many unique ways to memorialize someone. For example, you could create an online memorial site featuring pictures of a loved one, stories about their life, and similar content. This is another memorial option that may start in your home, but can eventually reach beyond it.
14. Watch movies
Some people memorialize loved ones by watching their favorite movies on special dates every year. You might also watch movies about death or movies about near death experiences to help you cope with your feelings after a loved one’s passing.
Ideas for Memorializing a Loved One Outdoors, In a Public Place, or Other Area
You may want to ensure that as many people as possible remember your loved one’s life. If so, keep these outdoor/public memorial ideas in mind:
15. Name a park (or similar space) after them
If a lost loved one played an active role in a community or institution such as a university, you may be able to coordinate with the appropriate decision-makers to name a portion of a park or other outdoor space in their honor.
This is a particularly smart way to memorialize someone who loved the outdoors. You also may have a better chance of getting the necessary approvals if you can raise the funds to donate a preserved spot of land you intend to name after the deceased.
16. Plant a tree
Planting a tree is another common way to memorialize someone outdoors. Trees have symbolic power because they suggest that a person’s spirit is still alive and flourishing in some way.
You have a few options if you decide this how you’ll memorialize a lost loved one. You can plant a tree on your own property, but as with the above example, you might be able to get permission to plant a tree in their honor in a relevant public space.
17. Commission a statue
It’s important to understand that this won’t be an option everyone can reasonably pursue. That said, if someone you’ve lost was noteworthy and famous in some capacity, you might be able to commission a statue of their likeness for the public to see.
18. Plant a memorial garden
Planting a memorial garden can be another creative alternative to planting a tree. You may find this option more appealing for a number of reasons.
For example, maybe you can’t get permission to plant a memorial tree in a public space, and you don’t have room on your property for a tree that might grow very large over the years. A memorial garden could be more practical. You also might simply find the beauty of a memorial garden more striking than that of one tree, whether it’s on your property or in a public space.
19. Donate a memorial bench
Have you ever taken a seat on a park or town bench that bears an individual’s name? That was almost certainly a memorial bench.
You may want to donate a memorial bench in honor of a loved one if you know of a particular spot that was important to them in some way. This could be anything from their favorite space to lounge in on a college campus, a central location in a community they played a significant role in, and virtually any other public spot that may have some relevance.
20. Memorial releases
A memorial doesn’t necessarily need to be permanent. For instance, it’s not uncommon to memorialize someone outdoors and/or in public by releasing doves, balloons, or butterflies into the air.
This is typically something you would do during a memorial event or with a small group of mourners who’ve gathered to remember the deceased.
21. Memorial pictures
In some instances, business owners will gladly display memorial pictures of deceased employees or loyal customers.
For example, if a loved one was passionate about their favorite restaurant, you could approach the owner and ask if they’d be willing to create such a display in their business.
That said, you want to be confident your request is reasonable and you know the business owner well, otherwise you could put them in an awkward position if they feel they can’t honor your request.
How Do You Memorialize Someone? Ideas to Consider
This list represents just a few ways you could memorialize someone after their passing. While you may want to use one of these suggestions, you could always adjust or modify it according to your own preferences. An idea here can simply be a starting place.