Memorials: Many Ways, Many Choices
By Adrienne Crowther
When we lose a loved one, we often want to continue the
legacy. There's something very healing about creating
special moments, rituals, and even objects that are
constant reminders of the life and story of our beloved
friends, relatives, spouses, and even animals in our
This article offers some suggestions from real life
experiences. These ideas have provided opportunities for
healing for everyone involved in the processes.
Memorial Services can be very personal, beautiful, and
commemorative with some careful reflection and planning.
Many people now refer to these services as life
celebrations for good reason. When my husband passed
away, my daughters and I devoted a week to this process.
After careful deliberation, we agreed that the perfect
venue was our own backyard, because he loved his home
and spent a lot of time cultivating a garden, which was
dedicated to his honor during the service. We poured
over hundreds of photos that covered the span of his
entire life. We selected the ones that delineated
passages of his life, commemorating each chapter. They
were compiled into a slideshow that was played at the
service. We then composed a very long list of the music
that he enjoyed. Music was an important aspect of life
for him, so we knew that it had to play an important
role in his memorial service. We even asked a friend to
sing one of his favorite songs, which was incredibly
moving. Friends and family got up to speak, telling
stories, both poignant and funny.
This memorial service was beautiful. We feel confident
that it chronicled his life and story quite well, and
perhaps even impacted lives of some of the people in
He was cremated, so that provided some more
opportunities to pay tribute to him. We designed an urn,
which is handmade by one of my daughters from a piece of
mahogany that he had saved. We also carry a small bit of
ashes whenever we travel, so that, symbolically, we
leave a little of his essence wherever we go.
We've also had jewelry made that contains some of his
hair. This is a tradition that dates back to Victorian
times, and is experiencing a resurgence in memorial
trends today. The beauty in it is that one can have a
lovely piece of jewelry created in his honor. His memory
is held close to the heart always.
At the memorial service, we had a beautiful hand-bound
book with one of his favorites quotes, his full name,
and dates on the cover. Both the cover and the
hand-marbled paper inside the book were shades of blue,
his favorite color.
We made many copies of the CD that held his favorite
songs. We gave a copy to some of our closest friends and
family members. Music is such a wonderful way to recall
the memory of a person, place, or time, and everyone has
greatly appreciated this gift.
During the memorial service, at the dedication of the
garden, we vowed to continue to cultivate the garden in
his honor, year after year. We had a small gathering at
the garden to commemorate the first anniversary of his
passing. We constructed two plywood panels and asked
everyone to paint a design or message on the panels.
These panels decorate the garden still, and have helped
to make this garden a sacred space.
These are just a few ideas for memorials. Memorials come
from memories, so all that is required to create
meaningful memorials is some reflection about the person
who has passed, a bit of imagination, and some
organization. The healing effects of these efforts are
Adrienne Crowther is the owner of Shine On Brightly, at,
the online gallery for memorial art.