How to Word Memorials

by Pat Olsen

Part of the grieving process after a loved one has passed away is to write about what that person meant not only to you, but to the many others whose lives were also touched. Many religious services ask friends and loved ones to speak about the deceased. Follow this simple process to write a memorial, and your personal words are certain to make it a fitting tribute.

Step 1

Set aside a time when you can be alone. Surround yourself with pictures of the one you have lost. Play music that evokes memories. Look at how others have briefly memorialized their loved ones to help inspire ideas. Draw simple pictures of events you both shared and then turn the artwork into words.

Step 2

Begin a testimonial for the person you have lost by jotting down words that describe this person. Pick out a few that bring the best images to mind and put them into sentences. Nothing needs to match at first because it is a process of inspiration that sorts through impressions and classifies them accordingly. Do not be afraid to use humor in your memorial work. It is fitting and appropriate to honor the lighter side of love.

Step 3

Once all of the material and words are gathered, a clear pattern emerges. This is the body of the memorial. Write a draft by stating the name of the loved one, the dates of birth and death and then a fitting quote that is especially meaningful. Bartlett’s Book of Quotes has many.

Step 4

The main body of the memorial need not be lengthy. It also doesn’t need to be written as poetry. It is simply meant to be a heartfelt tribute to the love and memories both of you shared.

Step 5

The closing paragraph of the memorial will state your own emotional attachment and a promise to always remember what this person has meant to you and others as well. Close with another appropriate quote, or copy one of the poems you find in Reference 5.

Step 6

If this memorial will be delivered at a service, practice it in front of a mirror or for others to ensure that you will be able to deliver it. If that is not possible, ask a friend to read it for you. All words of love and compassion help in the healing process, and your words have meaning that will comfort others as well.

Items you will need

  • Computer for research
  • Pictures of your loved one
  • Music you both shared

Photo Credits

About the Author

Pat Olsen has over 35 years of experience as a professional journalist in California. She attended San Francisco State and Pacific College. Olsen has several published books, is a staff writer for Mill Creek Living Magazine, and currently writes for Demand Studio. She is a retired educator who still teaches twice a week.