Most funeral or memorial services have a guest book or register book. A typical funeral guest book has a place for the loved one’s photo and then lined pages for friends and family to sign in.
While this is traditionally the way it’s been done, I believe there are some ways to improve the books to make them more of a keepsake for generations to come. What value will a book with people’s names in it have to the next generation?
Personally, I’ve lost both sets of grandparents, and I’m sure my parents have not kept the register book from their parent’s funerals. Why? Not because they intended to dispose of it, but perhaps because they didn’t see the importance in it, since names written in a book simply don’t have much value. So what kind of guest book would capture the essence of the person and then have great value? How about if friends and family wrote their memories of the departed on cards and then the cards were added to the book? Grief counselors suggest that people write down their thoughts and have found the writing of thoughts and memories is very cathartic.
I would love to have such a book to have a glimpse of my grandparents’ and great grandparents’ lives. It would have been so interesting to hear what people remembered most about them. Imagine what I could have learned about them and perhaps about myself in the process.
It would also be nice to have a summary of their passions and interest, what food they liked, where they went to school, where they worked, what clubs they belonged to, and what their hobbies were. You can create a book like this yourself using a plain scrapbook, allowing people to write a message or memory inside. Or you can buy a memorial book online which includes cards for writing memories and pages for listing other information about your loved one.
Some unique guest book or funeral book ideas include:
* A place to add memories – where attendee’s memories are shared
* A place for photos. Ideally if the person who wrote on the memory card is in the photo, the memory card can be placed next to the photo in the book
* Ring binding, so the pages where guests sign in can be located in two or three places at the service, and there is not a long line of people waiting to sign in. The pages can be added back into the book after the service
* Removable pages in case you choose not to fill out some pages
* An area to add your own thoughts or your own farewell message to your loved one
* Extra pages to include additional photos
* A place to keep track of those who sent flowers, brought over a meal or helped you through this difficult time so you can be sure to send a thank-you note
I hope you find the ideas helpful and you’re able to create a one-of-a-kind tribute book to your loved one.