The death of a sister hits us hard. It is the loss of a sibling who shared a unique history with us or a sister-in-law who has become chosen family—and possibly the mother of our nieces or nephews. When illness or injury takes away your sister too soon, it also takes away an integral part of your formative past.
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Jump ahead to these sections:
- Tribute Ideas for Your Sister’s Funeral
- Tribute Ideas to Remember Your Sister’s Birthday
- Tribute Ideas to Remember the Anniversary of Her Death
A meaningful tribute is a gift to your sister and your family. Paying tribute to your sister can be a positive and cathartic way to grapple with your grief. A tribute is an expression of gratitude, respect, or admiration—and it can come in many forms. Whether through a poem, ritual, tribute speech, or event in her honor, paying tribute to your sister shows the world who she was and what she meant to you.
Together, those who loved your sister can keep her memory alive and celebrate what you learned from knowing her.
Tip: If writing a tribute to your sister is just one of your complicated tasks following her death, our post-loss checklist can help you sort it all out.
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Tribute Ideas for Your Sister’s Funeral
It's a common tradition to pay tribute to a loved one at memorial and funeral services. Whether through a eulogy, poem, or reading, spoken words are a meaningful way to celebrate a life and mourn a death. Other non-spoken tributes such as memory tables with framed photos and photo collages can add richness and context to the funeral—helping attendees get to know the many dimensions of your sister.
Give a eulogy
If you can speak publicly during her funeral or memorial service, a heartfelt eulogy for your sister will be a powerful way to tell her story and express the connection you shared.
Share a poem
If sharing your own words is too much, you might share one of the many beautiful poems about sisters (for example, To My Sister…by Allison Chambers Coxsey). You can share at a funeral service, in a printed program, or on a memorial card.
Create a memory table
With all of the history you share, you may be the perfect person to create a “memory table” that exhibits items and photos from different chapters or passions in your sister’s life. This is a lovely way to show other grievers who your sister was and what she meant to the people in her life.
Curate an online memorial
There are a growing number of online memorial sites where you can create a webpage in honor of a loved one. These memorials range from simple to elaborate, and many support uploading photos, videos, and documents—whatever digital items you have that can tell the story of your sister’s life.
Light a flame
Lighting a candle during a ceremony of remembrance, funeral, or memorial service is a beautiful and traditional way to quietly honor the spirit of the deceased and reflect on their loss. You can even get a candle customized for the ceremony.
Make a photo or video collage
Dig up some childhood photos or footage and tell a visual story of your sister’s life. Those who met her as an adult will appreciate this window into her early years.
Hold a service in her favorite spot
Funerals and memorial services don’t always need to be indoors. What places did your sister love? Maybe there was a special hilltop where she loved watching the sunset or a park where she walked her dog every day.
Choose music to remember
Curating a playlist or choosing songs for the funeral service is a wonderful way to connect with memories of your sister through music. The power of song can soothe, honor, and empower you in your grief.
Tribute Ideas to Remember Your Sister’s Birthday
On a significant day like her birthday, the sadness of your sister’s loss can be overwhelming. Pay tribute and celebrate her by focusing on her best qualities, your favorite memories, and the love you shared. The ideas below will help you meaningfully mark this special day in her honor.
Frame a photo
Print some of your favorite photos of your sister and hang them in a special place where you’ll see them often. You can order a set of frames like this Golden State Art collection for a beautiful memorial wall in your entryway. Or keep them in a quiet place where you can reflect on her memory.
Read a poem that reminds you of her
Poems can sometimes distill the essence of life better than prose. Find a poem that captures your sister’s spirit and read it quietly or share it with others who knew her.
Keep her close with jewelry
Memorial jewelry is a unique and beautiful way to honor your sister by always keeping her near. A locket containing a photo like this one, or one that holds ashes like this is a beautiful way to hold someone close to your heart. Sparkling glass beads and even diamonds can be made from cremation remains.
Throw a party
Whether it’s a quiet gathering of family members or an exuberant affair, a birthday celebration for your sister can be a wonderful way to bring positive energy to an otherwise difficult day. Celebrate in her style—chocolate cake, decorations—whatever she loved.
Volunteer in her memory
Living the values that were important to your sister keeps her legacy alive. What causes and charities did your sister care about? Spending her birthday volunteering is a great way to carry on her memory.
Host a family reunion
Haven’t seen relatives since the funeral? Gather the family around in honor of her birthday and remember the bonds of joy and pain you all share. Surviving a difficult day can be easier with those who understand.
Get a tattoo
If you have been thinking of getting a tattoo to memorialize your sister, consider getting it done on her birthday. The physical experience and the lasting commitment make for a powerful tribute.
Make a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram post
Social media posts can be a way to share birthday wishes and pay tribute to your sister’s memory by sharing stories, recalling her unique qualities, or sharing special pictures.
Tribute Ideas to Remember the Anniversary of Her Death
The anniversary of your sister’s death will likely bring up big and complex emotions, but it is also an opportunity to pay tribute to the person she was and keep her memory alive for all those who loved her. These activities and rituals will honor her memory while easing the grief you carry year after year.
Hold a special remembrance ceremony
If you do not have a religious or cultural template for marking the death’s anniversary with a special ceremony, consider creating a meaningful rite of your own.
This could be a quiet ritual just for you (here are some songs about death that might be appropriate), a small gathering of close friends and family, or a celebration of life event.
Visit her final resting place
Bringing flowers or something else to embellish a gravestone or columbarium niche is a traditional way to mark the anniversary of a death.
Time spent close to her remains can be comforting, can help conversation flow, and can help you reflect on the meaning of the anniversary.
Pay it forward
Try adding some special acts of kindness or generosity to the day—especially ones that would have been meaningful to your sister. Pay for the order behind you at the drive-through, write a sweet note with your tip at the diner, put flowers on the doorsteps of strangers—whatever brings you joy and celebrates the spirit of your sister.
Live her best day
Cook her favorite meal. Play her favorite song. Find her most beloved flowers. Invite her friends to gather. Do something she loved to do. Celebrate all the things that brought her joy and all the joy she brought to you.
Create an outdoor memorial
Planting memorial trees, flowers, or bushes at your home, at the cemetery, or another meaningful location can be a beautiful marker of your sister’s life and make a permanently special place to honor her memory.
Write a letter, poem, or blog
Whether by journaling, writing messages to your sister, or communicating with others who knew her, you can put your feelings and intentions into words. Write down quotes, phrases, or poems to help you cherish memories with your sister.
Share what’s happening in your life. Post your writing in a hidden outdoors spot, online on a grief blog, or a community forum. You could even make a personal ritual of writing and re-reading these letters and poems every year on the anniversary of her death.
Butterflies are a beautiful symbol of renewal and hope. Releasing butterflies on your sister’s death anniversary can be a wonderful tribute. Be sure to use native butterflies bred specially for release.
Create a shrine
Consider creating a more permanent memory table or shrine in a quiet corner of your home. You could place photographs, letters, mementos, and candles on the table—and decorate it as your sister would have liked.
Some traditions keep a candle alight for 24 hours during the death anniversary.
Do something in nature
If you like the idea of creating an outdoor meditation space to honor and reflect on your sister, look for natural objects that could be painted or carved.
Angels or other ornaments could be hung from trees, and other beautiful embellishments can invoke your sister’s unique beauty and spirit. You could spend time there on each anniversary or other special times when you’d like to connect to her memory.
Sister Love, Simply Stated
Paying tribute to your sister doesn't have to be an elaborate event. It's an opportunity for you to remember your sister and celebrate the love you will always have for her. Your sister will always be alive in your heart and mind. Pay tribute and be joyful because you are a treasured piece of her living legacy.