Paying Respects to the Deceased With a Memory Book
Why Create a Memory Book?
Gathering to console relatives and showing respect for the departed has always been a tradition. However, COVID-19 has put a damper on paying your respects in the flesh. Some choose to host virtual services to remember their loved ones, and others are having very simple ceremonies with limited attendees.
While surviving relatives and friends may get some closure, it is challenging to give them the same support they would have had before the pandemic. Creating a memory book may be the ideal way to provide support if you or others cannot attend a funeral but still want to make a grieving spouse, child, or parent feel less isolated.
Steps for Creating a Memory Book
A memory book recognizing the good times and memorable moments in a loved one's life is not hard to make. Follow these simple steps:
- Reach out to friends and family requesting pictures and stories.
- Create a cover.
- Write a note to the recipient in the beginning of the book telling them that you hope the book will bring them comfort.
- Start with a page about the deceased's favorite things.
- Organize pictures and put them next to appropriate stories.
- Create a page with any additional information you want to include.
- Make a table of contents.
- Bind the book.
1. Reach Out to Friends and Family to Ask for Pictures and Stories
Send brief notes or emails to friends and family indicating that the deceased has died. State that the funeral is very limited, but that you would love it if everyone could send you a brief story or picture featuring the deceased. Let each person know that you recognize that they might not have a photo but to send whatever they can.
You may be surprised at the number of photos and stories you receive. If possible, ask everyone to identify the year the photo was taken or when the event in the story took place. Provide a designated time to send the information. Some people might not put titles on their stories so, if necessary, create your own.
2. Create a Cover for the Book
When I made a memory book, I called it "A Walk Down Memory Lane." I mentioned my father's name and the dates of his birth and death. If desired, you can include a picture on the cover.
3. Write an Opening Page Note to the Recipient
Include some heartfelt comments that will let the recipient know that everyone shares their grief and loss. Possible things to mention include:
- We wanted you to have a book to remember (insert departed's name).
- We hope this book brings comfort and jogs fond memories.
- We wanted you to enjoy some pictures you may not have to remind you about all the good times with (insert deceased's name).
4. Create One Page or More Listing the Departed's Favorite Things
Some ideas include:
- Favorite color
- Favorite food
- Favorite hobby
- Favorite place
- Favorite season
- Favorite sayings
If you do not know the answers, ask friends and family to help out. They will be happy to contribute. If no one knows the answers, leave a blank and let the recipient fill in the information. If you choose, give the recipient a pretty pen with the book.
5. Organize the Photos and Stories
Some pictures may naturally complement a story. If some of the pictures do not seem to go with any stories, create a few pages with captioned pictures. The recipient will not mind if the book is interspersed with pictures that do not relate to a particular story. I organized pictures chronologically, but you can organize them however you wish.
If you are a child making the memory book, brainstorm with your siblings about special occasions and family events you want to include. If you are a friend making the book, you may want to include a story about how you met the deceased.
6. Create a Page With Additional Information
This page can include anything you wish. Here are some ideas:
- Accomplishments of the deceased that have not been previously mentioned
- Cemetery and plot where they are buried
- A list of people who contributed to the book
You may also wish to leave a few blank pages. The recipient can add memorable moments as they think of them.
7. Make a Table of Contents
Insert this at the beginning of the book. I put mine directly after my note to the recipient. Creating it after you organize all the pictures and stories makes it easier to figure out the page numbers.
8. Bind the Book
Most office supply stores will be able to bind the book for you. A softback book is more reasonably-priced than a hardback. I made mine with a plastic coil binding.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Abby Slutsky