Nothing is more difficult than facing a loss as a family. With grief and other emotions running high, it’s hard to stay organized in times of crisis.
Having a way for loved ones to share their thoughts and kind words with the bereaved family can be a great source of comfort, whether paying respects from afar or in person.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What is an Online Guest Book?
- Step 1: Choose Your Guestbook Platform
- Step 2: Personalize the Online Guestbook
- Step 3: Spark the Conversation
- Step 4: Share Your Guestbook
- Step 5: Save Your Memories
An online guestbook creates a safe, accessible platform for those who want to support the family and leave memories of the deceased to do so. Like with online memorial sites, an online guestbook is an easy way to turn the funeral into a lasting memory. It serves as a reminder of one’s impact both on earth and beyond.
If you’re planning a funeral for a loved one, here’s how to create an online guestbook in just a few steps.
What is an Online Guest Book?
First, let’s define what an online guest book is, specifically in relation to a funeral. It’s very similar to a social media platform in that users can leave messages and comments on a digital book or wall. It’s not unlike a memorialized social media profile.
While it’s not uncommon to have a physical guestbook at the funeral for guests to leave messages, it’s becoming more popular to make a digital guestbook instead. This makes the guestbook accessible to all who might benefit from reading through the messages. Users often leave things like:
- Words of support to the family
- Family photos or shared family stories
- Their favorite memories of the deceased
- Prayers or poems
- Inspirational quotes
Online guest books can be found on popular memorial websites, social media platforms, and guestbook sites. They’re easy to set up, and they make an effective alternative to traditional guest books. If you’re planning to use an online guestbook at a funeral, follow these steps below.
Step 1: Choose Your Guestbook Platform
Before you begin creating the guestbook, you need to choose your service provider. There are many free options to choose from, and each service offers something a bit different. Consider your specific goals and needs before deciding on the best option for your loved one’s funeral.
- GatheringUs: GatheringUs is a free memorial and virtual funeral planning website. Easily create a free online memorial to share photos, memories, and even accept donations.
- Keeper: Keeper is all about keeping memories of loved ones alive. Create a free online memorial to preserve and celebrate your loved one’s legacy. Or, you can use Keeper Plus for unlimited images, family tree creation, and other premium features. Use code 'JOINCAKE' for 10% off your Keeper Plus purchase.
- Never Gone: Never Gone offers online memorial pages that are always free. It’s easy to create a profile in honor of a deceased loved one. From there, users can add photos, videos, music, a guest book, and other memorial information.
- Forever Missed: Similar to Never Gone, Forever Missed allows you to access a basic memorial page for your loved one for free. If you need extra features, you’ll need a paid plan, which starts at $6 per month.
- Your Tribute: Finally, Your Tribute helps users create a beautiful memorial website for free. Adding a guestbook and other extras is easy, and it’s easy to customize your memorial page to meet your needs.
Think about your budget range (if any) and any additional features you might want (photos, videos, etc.) in your funeral guestbook. From there, sign up and get started.
Step 2: Personalize the Online Guestbook
Next, it’s time to personalize the guestbook. Your online funeral guestbook for your loved one will likely reside on some type of online memorial website like the ones listed above. This is where you get to share a bit about your loved one, their legacy, and what made them special. You can personalize this as much or as little as you wish.
Remember, this is something everyone will see when they visit your loved one’s memorial website. Make sure it’s special by including any of the following:
- Obituary: This is a great place to share your loved one’s obituary or write a longer memorial in their honor.
- Photos: Share photos of the deceased, family photos, and other visual memories.
- Videos: If you have a memorial video, this is a great place to share it.
- Music: You might wish to add music to the page as well, whether it’s a religious song or someone from your loved one’s favorite artist.
- Colors and themes: Finally, decorate the page with different colors or themes, if possible. Choose something that represents your loved one and their taste.
Step 3: Spark the Conversation
Finding the right words to say in a memorial service guest book is often a challenge. While you might have friends and family who are enthusiastic about contributing to your online platform, they might not know where to begin.
It’s helpful if you can offer a few words to spark the conversation. Invite your page’s guests to leave their thoughts, prayers, and memories. Sometimes a simple call to action like this is all you need to encourage kind words.
Step 4: Share Your Guestbook
Don’t forget to share your guestbook. You’ll want to make it as easy as possible for friends and family to leave their kind words. There are a lot of innovative ways to do this that simplifies the process:
- Social media: Share your link to the guestbook on social media. This is especially important if you’re sharing a memorial post or tribute in your deceased loved one’s honor.
- Funeral invitation: If you’re sending a digital or physical funeral invite, include the link to the online guestbook on the invitation.
- Thank you cards: For those that send gifts and sympathy cards, it’s common to return the gesture with a thank you card. You can include the link to the online memorial guestbook on your cards.
- Email: It might just be simplest to email your loved ones to share the online guestbook link with them directly.
- Funeral program: Finally, include the link to the guestbook on the printed funeral program at the memorial service.
Aside from the above options, you can also let friends and family know about your guestbook when you see them in-person at the funeral or memorial. Don’t be afraid to invite them to share.
Step 5: Save Your Memories
Last but not least, save your online memories by keeping an eye on your online guestbook. Set up alerts so you’re always in the know about new messages on the online profile. After a few weeks, you might want to save these memories somewhere more secure.
While you might have access to the online memorial indefinitely, it’s always a good idea to have your own copy saved. You could do this in several ways:
- Physical copy: Print your favorite memories from the page and create a scrapbook or memory album. This is a heartfelt memento of your loved one’s legacy.
- Cloud service: For extra security, use a cloud storage solution like Dropbox or Google Drive to save your memories and messages. You can save them to a Word Document or file folder and upload it to the cloud for safekeeping. This makes sure your memories are accessible from anywhere on any device.
- Local access: Lastly, save your guestbook memories on your local computer, laptop, or device. Print anything for your records.
Saving your memories from the memorial website isn’t needed, but it is an important way to keep these messages secure. You never know what might happen to the online memorial, and you never want to lose the kind words from your loved ones.
Create a Digital Legacy
An online scrapbook is an inspiring way to showcase memories and kind messages from loved ones. Losing someone special is never easy, but your guestbook shows that you’re never alone with your grief. An online memorial is a simple way to encourage more friends and family to share support with each other and the bereaved family.
We’re entering a new era of digital legacy. It’s now easier than ever to memorialize loved ones online as well as in-person. An online funeral guestbook is one of many many ways the internet brings people together after a loss.