A memorial service is a bittersweet event. While it’s an opportunity to celebrate a loved one’s life, it’s also a stark reminder for family members and friends that the deceased loved one is no longer with them. A traditional funeral may provide closure to some, but others prefer to create a more unique and sentimental memorial.
There are several interesting memorial ideas to choose from. Some families know exactly what to do to pay tribute to the person’s life. For those who don’t, we created this article to give you some ideas on how you can create a memorial that’s also a meaningful celebration of life.
It explores various memorial ideas, from physical memorials to grand gestures and heartfelt actions. If you’re looking for something special to do for someone you’ve lost, we’re sure this article will inspire you.
Traditional Funeral or Memorial Service?
After a loved one dies, one of the first decisions the family must make is whether to have a funeral or memorial service. The main difference between the two options is whether the deceased loved one’s remains are present or not.
You can expect the body or an urn with the cremated remains to be present at a funeral memorial service but not at a standard memorial service. You usually have funeral services at funeral homes, but you can have memorial services anywhere. A memorial service is only about honoring the person, not burying them or scattering their ashes.
No matter what type of service you and your family choose to have, you can honor the deceased loved one’s memory in various creative or sentimental ways. Some memorial ideas involve a physical tribute; others are more action- or event-orientated. Let’s explore some of these ideas.
A Long-Lasting Tribute to Honor Your Loved One’s Memory
If you want to keep telling your loved one’s story to future generations, creating a lasting memorial where relatives and other guests can visit and celebrate their legacy for years to come is a great idea. Here are some long-lasting memorial ideas.
A Memorial Plaque or Headstone
Headstones or memorial plaques are probably the most traditional memorials. There is a wide variety to choose from for a range of budgets. The most common options are granite or bronze. You can select a headstone with or without a vase attached and even add a picture in bronze or ceramic. You can have it placed when the funeral takes place or as part of a memorial service after the funeral.
Even if the deceased is cremated, you can still have a physical location where you can visit them. Some churches and crematoriums have memorial gardens where you can erect a small plaque or headstone.
Or, you can turn part of your garden space at home into a memorial area. Place a memorial bench and plant trees, shrubs, and flowers around the plaque or headstone. Invite friends and relatives to help with the upkeep and pay their respects when they wish to do so.
A Decorative Urn
If a family member or close friend wants to keep the deceased person’s ashes nearby, getting a decorative urn to house the ashes could be a great idea. If the family moves, you can move the ashes along with them.
There are so many different urns available in various materials and designs. You can place the urn on the mantelpiece or in a memorial garden where family members can spend time and honor the deceased loved one’s memory.
Erect a Memorial Statue
Honor your deceased loved one with a memorial statue or monument. Sculptors craft memorial statues and monuments with long-lasting materials that can withstand the elements.
Various classic and contemporary designs are available, and you can choose from various materials. You can place the statue or monument at your loved one’s grave or in a garden. It’s a meaningful way to commemorate your loved one with a work of art that will stand the test of time.
For those who want to remember their departed loved ones creatively, cremation art is a relatively new way to do it. It involves a memorial artist mixing some of the cremation ashes into paint and using it to create an artwork. It can be a painting, blown glass piece, or sculpture.
Getting an artist to paint a portrait of your loved one with some of their ashes can be a great idea to memorialize them forever.
Memorial Jewelry for Family Members
This memorial is particularly useful when more than one family member wants to have the loved one’s ashes. Memorial jewelry offers portable memorial pendants, key chains, necklaces, and more made from various materials, including gold, sterling silver, glass, wood, stainless steel, and pewter. With memorial jewelry, everyone can have their loved one close to them.
A Framed Memorial Photo
A lasting memorial can be as simple and inexpensive as a framed photograph. Choose a photo that has sentimental meaning. Perhaps a memorable day filled with happy memories, or one that includes special people.
Since this is one of the most inexpensive celebration of life ideas, you can make additional prints and frame them for close friends and family, especially if they are in the memorial photograph.
A Park Bench and Plaque
Buying a park bench with a plaque is an excellent way to remember deceased loved ones, especially if it’s in a spot the person loved visiting. Having a special bench to sit on while traveling down memory lane makes it a more memorable experience for those left behind.
Remember to get permission from the local authorities to erect a memorial bench or plaque in a park or public space. Or, look for a property that offers this service online. Another option is to place a bench in a memory garden at home.
Create a Scrapbook or Keepsake Box
Deceased loved ones leave many little things behind that may be challenging to get rid of. Save some of these items as small keepsakes in a scrapbook or box. You could include photos, tickets to shows, receipts of special events, house keys, and anything else with memories attached to it.
The scrapbook or keepsake box could become a precious item to share part of the deceased’s life story with younger family members in later years. Make it available to anyone who would like to look at it when they miss the person who died.
Plant a memorial tree, shrub, or flowers in honor of your loved one’s memory. It’s a great idea to pay tribute to your loved one while giving back to the earth. If the person was part of a community, get everyone involved and create a garden filled with memorial trees and their favorite plants and flowers as part of their legacy. Or, plant a community veggie garden and donate the produce to locals.
There are several memorial ideas to choose from if you have an area you can use. Family members can opt for memorial garden rocks, keepsake rocks, memorial bird baths, and more.
A memorial garden in a special location may be the perfect place to scatter the deceased loved one’s cremated remains. You can place decorative memorial stones and a memory table in the space; it’s a beautiful way to celebrate someone’s life. If you don’t want to scatter the ashes, you can store them in a cremation stone rock created for that purpose.
Create a Memorial Page
Instead of writing an obituary in the local newspaper, create a memorial page online where people who knew and loved the person can honor them by sharing memories of the person. There are many DIY memorial sites online, or you could create a Facebook page. Share it with the community as a bittersweet life celebration and remembrance.
Open the memorial page to the public so everyone who knew and loved the person can contribute to it. Someone may want to write a poem or a song to honor your loved one. A memorial page could also be a wonderful way for someone who could not attend the funeral to take part in memorializing the dearly departed.
Write a Letter, Poem, or Song, or Start a Journal
Most funerals have a eulogy to pay respect to the departed. Some funerals include letters, songs, and poems read or sung to honor deceased loved ones. It does not have to be limited to the funeral service. You can memorialize a loved one with a letter, poem, or song at any time.
Start a journal to store it in or place it in a memory box. Another idea is to invite others to share in this creative celebration of life. You could start a website or memorial page on social media where everyone can share memories of the person’s life in creative ways.
Create a Family Heirloom
Did your grandma bake the best carrot cake or cookies? Was your dad known for making a fantastic lasagna? Turn your loved one’s recipe into a treasured heirloom by capturing the hand-written recipe on a customized memorial cutting board.
If your loved one didn’t cook or bake, but you like the idea, you could etch their hand-writing from anything into a wooden board and turn it into a decorative item for the home.
Get a Tattoo
If you like tattoos, you could honor your loved one by getting a tattoo in their memory. It could be something as simple as their name or date of birth and death or symbolic of their passing, for example, angel wings.
The tattoo can be as lighthearted or serious as you’d like, whatever feels appropriate. Be sure to take time before you choose the design. It may be a great idea, but remember, it’s a permanent commitment.
Non-Tangible Memorials to Honor Someone’s Memory
Memorials don’t have to be physical; there are many other ways in which those left behind can honor their deceased loved ones. Sometimes it helps the grieving process to create a memorial in the form of a lasting memory that honors the person’s legacy or celebrates their life in a heartfelt way. Here are some ideas to do this without creating a physical memorial.
Create Lasting Memories
Even when a special person’s life ends, someone’s memory of them will remain. These memories are precious. Even years after the person has died, they remain in the minds of everyone who loved the person who died.
To keep precious moments and memories alive, write them down in a memory journal and keep in in a safe space. Read the memories when you miss the person to relive happy times and feel close to them again.
Create a Tradition to Visit the Cemetery
You don’t have to go to a funeral to visit the cemetery. Get together with others close to your loved one and visit their final resting place regularly. It’s a great idea to share memories and even talk to them during the visit. Some people bring flowers or small tokens of endearment like a memorial photo or other mementos.
If your loved one was cremated and their ashes were scattered, you could visit the area. Or, you could go to one of their favorite places to spend time remembering them.
Have a Memorial Butterfly Release
A memorial release can be healing and is an excellent way to honor your loved one’s life. Get together with those near to them for a memorial release. You could do a butterfly release if that’s possible in your area or do the same with doves, balloons, or paper lanterns.
You could attach messages to the balloons or lanterns before you release them or sprinkle some of the cremated remains into one of the paper lanterns as a symbolic gesture of freedom for the departed loved one. This memorial service is not about letting go of an object but instead releasing some of your grief.
Create a Slideshow With Their Favorite Songs and Photos
Did your departed friend or relative have a favorite song or movie that brought them joy? Work with family members and friends to get photos of your loved one together and create a slideshow with the person’s favorite songs and images that go with it.
Once you’ve completed the slideshow, watch it with friends and family to honor your loved one’s memory and feel closer to them.
Raise Funds for Your Love One’s Favorite Charity
Was your friend or relative passionate about helping animals in need, or did your grandma regularly donate to the Red Cross? So many people support charitable organizations, and this support doesn’t have to end.
Keep your loved one’s legacy alive by continuing their kindness and helping their favorite charity in their honor. Many charities provide the option of recurring donations in a deceased loved one’s name and memory.
Volunteering time is just as meaningful for those who can’t afford to make donations. Ask family and friends to join you as you make a positive difference in your loved one’s honor.
If your loved one died from cancer or another dreaded disease, consider raising funds for research in that field. You can do your part in saving someone’s life. Helping others can also be healing for you.
Start a Scholarship in Their Honor
If your loved one was an academic, what better way to honor their memory than sending someone to college? Establish an educational scholarship at your friend or relative’s alma mater.
Do an annual fundraiser if you and your loved ones can’t fund the scholarship entirely. This idea impacts someone’s life while honoring the dearly departed in a way that would make them proud and keep their memory alive.
Have a Regular Get-Together Honoring Your Loved One
Food is a universal language of love, and it’s often attached to memories of happy times. Get some friends and relatives together for an evening of remembering the person with joy. Cook their favorite food or get their favorite takeout.
Put their favorite movie on and share some memories throughout the night. Listen to their favorite songs, and share happy memories of them. This way, you can create a memorial night and have it regularly. Look at it as a celebration of life ceremony in your loved one’s honor.
Be Inspired by Your Loved One
You don’t have to create a memorial that is tangible or visible to anyone but you. Being inspired by your loved one is a wonderful way to honor someone’s memory and connect to their unique spirit.
Try to tick some items off their bucket list, travel to places that were special to them, spend time remembering them at a special location doing something they loved, read their favorite books, watch their favorite movies, or try one of their hobbies.
Complete Something For Them
If your loved one did not complete a project and you’re able to, do it for them in their memory. Perhaps your grandma was busy with a genealogical scrapbook, maybe your mom wrote a story for a children’s book but never got it published, or your dad was restoring an old car.
If you can, complete the project in their honor. Or better yet, it’s an excellent idea to get together with other loved ones and do it as a team project.
Always Alive in Hearts and Minds
Honoring a loved one’s memory does not have to end at the memorial service or funeral home. There are so many creative and practical ways to memorialize a loved one after the funeral service. Whether you opt for a permanent memorial, memorial jewelry, singing their favorite songs, using memorial photos, or getting together for an evening to pay tribute to your loved one, it’s all good. Any act of remembrance has a wonderful way of helping you heal and keeping the memory of your loved one alive.
Honoring a loved one doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive; it doesn’t have to be limited to the funeral home. You can keep their memory alive and honor your loved one’s family and life in many meaningful ways. Use some of these ideas and create a memorial close to your heart that will celebrate your loved one’s life to the fullest.