Memories are the most precious legacy we have after someone we love dies. Your family can choose to provide opportunities for memory-sharing beyond the eulogy. As we all realize, not everyone feels comfortable speaking in front of a crowd. Through memories, those who have died continue to live on in us. Be sure to talk to your funeral director about ways of sharing memories at the funeral.
Some creative alternatives include:
Provide a time and place during the visitation or the funeral service where people can write down memories on paper and place them in a memory basket. Some of these memories can be read during the eulogy or tacked on a board for others to read.
Convert your registration book into a registration/memory book. Leave a column on the right-hand side of the registration book and encourage people not only to sign their names, but to write out a memory or two of the person who has died. Later, you can make copies of this book for everyone in the family.
Many funeral homes make available tables or boards for families to display memorabilia and photos. If the person who died had a favorite hobby, consider setting up a display that represents this (e.g. model trains, photos of her garden, fishing tackle). Physical objects that link mourners to the person who died can be displayed too (e.g. special articles of clothing, favorite toys for a child). You could also set out family photo albums and framed pictures. Memory tables give mourners a good place to gather and share memories of the person who died.
Some funeral homes offer memory DVDs that incorporate visual images with music. There are a growing number of companies that can offer this service, including websites that guide you through the process of developing your own video. Ask your funeral director for details.
Some friends and family members may want to write a personal letter to the person who died. These letters can then be sealed and placed in the casket or displayed near the casket for other mourners to read.
Many funeral homes have equipment to videotape and/or audiotape funeral ceremonies. More and more families are finding that capturing the funeral for posterity allows them to replay it later in their grief journeys, when they’re not so overwhelmed and exhausted. The recording often becomes a cherished family keepsake. It can also be duplicated for friends and family who are not able to attend the service.