Traditionally, many families put out guest books at their loved ones’ funerals. Many funeral homes include this guest book in their service package for no extra charge. These books can simply be a place for attendees to note their presence and sign their name, but you can also take this concept further and turn the guest book into a keepsake that can be enjoyed for years to come. Here are two ideas to help you.
1. Memorial Cards
In addition to a traditional guest book, consider handing all the attendees at the funeral a note card. Then, encourage everyone to write one of their favourite memories of the deceased on the card. As the close family members are mourning the loss of their loved one, it can feel cathartic to go through these cards and see how much other people also enjoyed and appreciated their loved one.
You can have people fill out the cards at the funeral or you can give them extra time by putting an address and stamp on each card. When you receive the cards back, keep them with the guest book so you have a record of not only who attended your loved one’s funeral, but their thoughts and their memories of the deceased. Consider inserting these cards between the pages of the book for easy access.
Once the book is completed, you can easily flip through the memories as desired. Ideally, someone who is not the next of kin should handle the logistical elements of this process, such as passing out and collecting cards. Then, they should give the completed memento to the person at the centre of the grief circle, such as the spouse of the deceased.
2. Photos of Your Loved One
When telling people about the funeral, let them know that you would like them to bring their favourite photo of the deceased if they have one. You can announce this in the obituary in your local newspaper, post the request on your social media account or tell some friends and ask them to spread the word and tell others.
Then, at the funeral, people can place the photo in the guest book that the funeral home provides and write down a memory associated with that photo, in addition to their name. That way, as you review the guest book later, you’ll also have wonderful photos and memories of your loved one to enjoy and celebrate for years to come.
If you like, you can put out extra photos of your loved one for people to use if they didn’t bring their own. That way all your guests can still participate and be encouraged to share favourite memories.
If you’re already overwhelmed at the thought of planning a funeral for your loved one, you’re not alone. Even if you simply use the guest book that the funeral home provides without anything extra, you’ll still have a wonderful keepsake that will remind you how many people cared for your loved one and came to support you.
However, if you are able and want to make the guest book extra special, these two ideas can help to make grief a little less lonely, and they give mourners a keepsake that they can pass down for generations.
At Cremations Only, we know how hard it is to lose a loved one, and we work closely with our clients to create a loving farewell. If you would like to make arrangements for your loved one or talk about pre-planning for yourself, contact us today. We look forward to helping you through this very difficult time.