When you go to an on-site funeral, you’re only expected to write your name in the guestbook. You may feel the pressure to write more when signing a guestbook for an online memorial site.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What to Write in an Obituary Guest Book for a Close Family Member
- What to Write in an Obituary Guest Book for a Close Friend
- What to Write in an Obituary Guest Book for Someone You Didn’t Know Well or At All
- What to Write in an Obituary Guest Book for a Colleague
When the cursor flashes in front of you but you aren’t sure what to write on an online guest book, let us help you come up with some examples of what to write in an online obituary guest book in a variety of situations.
Tip: If writing an obituary is just one of the tasks you're facing for the first time after losing a loved one, our post-loss checklist can help.
What to Write in an Obituary Guest Book for a Close Family Member
If you recently lost a close family member such as a parent, spouse, or child, you may approach the online memorial site differently than you would if you were signing it for anyone else. You may use the platform as an opportunity to talk about your grief or to express appreciation for all the support you have received from others.
Here are some examples.
1. “Our hearts are broken at the loss of our dear mother. Thank you all for visiting this site and sharing kind words and memories. Life won’t be the same without Mom, but we feel comforted knowing that she lives on in the hearts of many.”
Most online memorial sites allow people to leave public comments. You may assume that others will see your message as they scroll through the entries.
2. “I can’t believe you are gone, Rob. I’m still in shock that this happened. You were my one true love. Even though I need to go on for the sake of our children, it’s going to take every ounce of strength I have. I will love you forever.”
Some people use such platforms to address their loved one who died.
3. “Stevie’s smile would light up every room. Even though he was taken to heaven far too soon, it gives us peace knowing he’s in the arms of angels.”
Many people write about the promise of the afterlife in forums like these.
4. “One way my siblings and I have honored our mom’s passing is by thinking about her favorite things. Think of our mom next time you see purple irises or the color pink. Think of our mom when you watch the Cubs win a game or hear a song by Ray Charles. Think of our mom when you sing ‘Abide With Me’ or drink a mint mocha.”
One unique way to honor a loved one’s life is to write about your loved one’s likes and preferences. This will help others connect with your loved one and remember your loved one long after death.
What to Write in an Obituary Guest Book for a Close Friend
The family members of the deceased will likely pore over each of the entries in an online funeral guest book. People like knowing that their loved ones were also adored by others. Use this opportunity to share pleasant and appropriate memories that you had with the deceased. You may also want to make positive remarks about the deceased’s personality and write about how much you valued the deceased’s friendship.
1. “I knew Denise for 48 years. We grew up next door to each other in Elmsdale. Even though we only talked once a year, every time we reconnected it was as if no time passed at all. Oh, how she made me laugh with her stories about working at Penney’s.”
You may find it necessary to explain your relationship with the deceased. Commenting on the deceased’s personality will give comfort to family members.
2. “Frank had a million stories. His signature line was, ‘Stop me if you’ve heard this one.’ No one ever would because even if we heard the story before, we would all want to hear it again. My personal favorite was when he shared his memory of visiting that elephant habitat in Botswana. Rest in peace.”
Try to be as specific as possible when sharing memories. Even though it is a sad time for the family, they probably want to hear funny stories of their loved ones.
3. “I am so sorry to hear that Cindy passed. She was my college roommate and was one of the nicest, most genuine people I’ve ever known.”
Most people use these online forums to offer condolences to the family.
4. “Please accept my sincerest sympathies on the loss of your mom. She and I were very close. It is important that you know how proud she was of each of her kids. She bragged about you all the time. Thank you for taking such loving care of my friend at the end of her life. We will all miss her so much.”
If you were a close friend to the deceased, you might be able to offer a loving note to the family.
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What to Write in an Obituary Guest Book for Someone You Didn’t Know Well or At All
You may find yourself in the situation of signing an online guestbook for someone you never met. For example, you may have never met the parent of your neighbor or the sister of your coworker. Here are some examples of how to navigate this situation.
1. “I am so sorry for the loss of your precious mom. I didn’t know her well, but I know you and your sisters have a lot of love for her. She must have been an amazing person.”
If you didn’t know the deceased, you might want to comment on what you know about the relationship your friend shared with the deceased.
1. “Condolences to you and the rest of your family on the loss of your dad. You were an amazing caregiver to him during his last few months at home. I’m sure his passing was peaceful as he was surrounded by those he loved.”
If you never met the deceased, you can only comment about what you know. In this case, you may commend a friend or co-worker for caring for his or her loved one until the end.
2. “I am so sorry for your loss. Even though I never met your mom, she must have been an amazing woman for raising three wonderful kids.”
Even though the phrase tends to be overused, saying or writing “I am sorry for your loss” is a concise, informal way to offer sympathy.
What to Write in an Obituary Guest Book for a Colleague
Perhaps you knew the deceased, but you didn’t know the deceased’s family members. This unique situation may give you pause as you write in an online guest book. Like our previous examples, keep your memories positive and appropriate. You may also want to explain how you knew the deceased as you offer messages of sympathy.
1. “Please accept my most heartfelt condolences on the loss of Mary. I worked with her for 28 years at Smith and Sons, and she was the glue that held that office together. No one knew more about our clients, coworkers, and products than Mary. Plus, she made a killer chili and won the cook-off title 14 years in a row. She will definitely be missed.”
The family of the deceased may know little about the work life of their loved one. You may want to offer some insight into this world as you sign the online guestbook.
2. “Even though I never met Mike, we talked on the phone and emailed daily for six years as a part of our job. We always laughed about how we could have passed each other on the street and would have never recognized each other. Mike was a consummate professional. When he committed to finishing a project, you knew that it would get done.”
Again, give a brief insight into what the deceased was like to work with, as long as your description is positive.
3. “I am so sorry that COVID-19 kept me from being able to attend Janet’s funeral. Everyone at the office is heartbroken over her death. Please know that I will be praying for peace and comfort for your entire family during this difficult time.”
If you could not attend the actual funeral, you might want to explain why in the online guestbook. It is also appropriate to share messages of faith, especially if you know that you and the deceased shared the same beliefs.
What Not to Say in an Online Guestbook
An online guestbook is not the appropriate forum for disclosing surprising information about the deceased. You should also avoid saying, “There is a reason for everything” or “The death from lung cancer was not unexpected, due to the deceased’s smoking habit.”
Don’t tell someone who lost a child that they can have another one or imply that someone who lost a spouse could start dating again soon.
Be thoughtful when you sign an online guestbook. Think about what messages would give you comfort if you were in the same situation.