Finding ways to memorialize your loved one can be a helpful way to cope and move through grief. A living memorial can be a beautiful, healing way to honor the memory of a loved one. It can be part of a funeral or celebration of life ceremony. It can also be something you do a few months or even years after your loved one has died — it’s completely up to you.
We’ve compiled a list of 16 living memorial ideas to help you honor your loved one.
Post-planning tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, finding ways to memorialize them isn't be the only thing you have to consider. 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.
1. Plant a Tree
Planting a tree in memory of your loved one is a wonderful way to remember and celebrate his or her life. A tree is a living legacy that can continue to grow and bloom bigger and stronger as the years pass — plus, it’s a perfect place to visit and reflect.
Check out 20 lovely poems you can read at a tree planting service or engrave into a plaque for your deceased loved one. You can plant a tree anywhere in the world. There are many websites and programs that offer this service or you can contact your local government to find out if you can plant the tree yourself.
2. Start a Butterfly Memorial Garden
You can create a butterfly garden right in your backyard as a living memorial. You will need butterfly-attracting plants, water such as a birdbath, some sun and shade, and a large flat rock or two for basking.
Many people believe butterflies are loved ones checking in on them — and that it’s good luck if a butterfly lands on you. A butterfly garden can be an enchanting and peaceful place to honor the memory of someone who has passed away.
3. Name a Star
There are endless stars in the galaxy. Choose a star, buy it, and name it after your loved one.
Whenever you look up into the sky, try to spot your loved one’s star and know that he or she is always with you.
4. Plant a Flower Garden
Planting a memorial garden is a lovely way to remember someone who has passed. Learn about the meaning of different types of flowers or pick your loved one’s favorite — or both!
Choose flowers that remind you of the person you want to honor with your garden.
5. Make a Donation
Make a donation to an organization that your loved one cared about. Consider sponsoring a child, for example.
The memory of your loved one can live on through your donation.
6. Have a Bird Feeder Made
A bird feeder can be crafted from the ashes of your loved one or you can keep a regular bird feeder as a symbolic, living memorial. Bird feeders nurture life and attract beautiful birds.
You or your loved one may enjoy bird watching and it could be a great way to celebrate your loved one’s life.
7. Have a Tree Pod Burial
Perhaps your loved one was really passionate about the environment. Your loved one’s end-of-life plans may have involved using his or her ashes or remains to plant a tree.
This is a really beautiful living memorial option. You can plant flowers around the base of the tree, watch it grow, and remember and celebrate your loved one’s life.
8. Plant an Herb and Vegetable Garden
Fill a garden with delicious herbs and vegetables. Every time you water, harvest, and tend your garden, you can fondly remember your loved one. You could also plant fruit trees in your garden.
Dwarf Meyer lemon trees are a good option because they’re beautiful, fruitful, and don’t need much space to grow. They are also sweet and sour, which can be symbolic of how you feel when you grieve your loved one.
9. Make a Succulent Wreath
A succulent wreath lasts a long time and can even be preserved to last forever. It can be a beautiful funeral decoration and brought home after the funeral as a living memorial.
10. Create an Eco Reef
Was your loved one a big fan of the ocean? If so, his or her ashes can be used to create an eco reef.
These reefs give life to sea animals and plants and can be a beautiful living memorial for your loved one.
11. Hand Out Seed Paper Funeral Cards
Memorial cards are commonly handed out at funerals. You can get seed paper — biodegradable paper made with seeds — as memorial cards.
Guests can take home these cards and plant them in your loved one’s honor. These make a beautiful environmentally-friendly memorial keepsake.
12. Get a Tattoo
A memorial tattoo is one way that your loved one can live on through you. You could tattoo your loved one’s name, birthday, the day they died, a symbol, flower, quote, or even his or her signature.
13. Adopt a Pet
Adopting a pet in memory of your loved one is a very special living memorial. You can adopt a shelter animal, give it a good home, and your loved one’s memory can live on through your new snuggle buddy.
If you’re not in a position to take in a pet, you can always sponsor an animal or shelter.
14. Send Ashes to Outer Space
You can even send your loved one’s ashes to outer space to be dispersed! Every time you look up at the sky, you’d know that your loved one lives on among the stars.
15. Distribute Seed Packets
Seed packets can be passed out at a funeral or celebration of life ceremony. Guests can plant the seeds in their own time as a living memorial to your loved one.
16. Name a Rose Variety
Have you ever wondered how different rose varieties get their names? Search for nameless available rose cultivars.
Once you find the exact color, scent, and size you like, you can purchase the right to name it online. That rose variety will forever be named after your loved one.
Benefits of a Living Memorial
Living memorials are emotionally and environmentally beneficial. They may even survive for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Trees, flowers, and other types of memorials can actually sustain and improve life on our planet.
Using a loved one’s remains in a memorial allows them to live on in a new way. Not only will your loved one return to nature, but you and other loved ones can also remember him or her in a special way forever.