4 Ways To Help Your Families Celebrate Life AFTER The Funeral

The other day, while strolling through the Zilker Park Botanical Gardens in Austin, I found a beautiful bench that I had probably overlooked a hundred times before. At first glance – and to the average stroller – this bench might not have seemed so special. But on this particular day, the sun was shining just right and there was just enough shade from the trees around to keep me cool, I decided to sit down on and just have a moment to myself. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a small engraved cement marker on the bench that read:

In the flight of every butterfly,

your beauty and grace.

In the song of every bird,

your passionate clarity.

In the light of every moon,

your radiant spirit.

It turns out that this particular bench was a memorial that a man had set up for his wife who passed away. And for some reason, it touched my heart. How amazing is it that one person’s life could leave a mark for hundreds, even THOUSANDS of people who might walk through this park and read these same words? Maybe these words even trigger a particular memory or help us remember a different loved one for each person who passes by. It really got me thinking just how important it is that we celebrate life.

Think of how many sculptures, waterfalls, monuments, park benches, bike paths, hiking trails, roads, and even pieces of art and music exist because we celebrate the lives of our loved ones.  These personalized memorial options not only help families grieve and honor the life of their loved one, but they also serve as a forever tribute to a beautiful life lived.

To really help your families celebrate the life of their loved ones, long after they leave your funeral home, check out these four additional creative ways you can help your families honor their loved ones in a personalized way.


#1: Have them choose a spot of reflection

After the loss of someone close to us, it’s always important to take some time to reflect. But sometimes, our families don’t take that necessary time, and end up sweeping their grief underneath the rug. As a funeral professional, I’m sure you want to save them the long-term hurt caused by holding those emotions in, so why not help them set an intention to reflect?

Invite them to choose a location that is important to them – like the bench in the botanical garden – where they can just sit, think, cry, remember, and… well, reflect. It doesn’t have to be somewhere over the top or particularly sentimental, it could just be in their backyard! In fact, it might be a good idea if they chose somewhere that they can visit a lot, so they are constantly reminded to set time aside to deal with their emotions, think and walk along the healing path.

#2: Help them create an annual event to commemorate the loved one

Your families don’t necessarily need to arrange a super formal funeral event to remember their loved one each year, but wouldn’t it be nice for them to gather the family together and choose a time to reflect and remember? You could help them plan an annual fishing trip if the deceased loved fishing, or a trip out to the cabin or lake where they always took family trips. By bringing the family together every year, it encourages everyone to show support for each other during their journey of grief, and most of all, to continue to share the memories they hold so close to their hearts.

#3: Invent a meaningful, personal ritual

One of the most important and healthy ways to help your families grieve and celebrate their loved one’s life is to invite them to create a small ritual that can be done with family members or on an individual basis. For instance, leaving an empty seat around the dinner table over the holidays as a way to symbolize their memory, or releasing a balloon into the sky on their birthday. Rituals are a great way for your families to mark the transition period into a new way of life that exists after the loved one is gone. Creating these meaningful moments and experiences also allows them to grieve and remember in a way that will help to ease the pain of such a difficult transition.

#4: Create (or save) something meaningful for future generations

My father died when I was very young, and I often find myself wondering what he was like. I’m sure this is the case with many youngsters who have lost a family member at a young age, or even before they were born. And while pictures are a great way to remember family members after they are gone, they don’t tell you the stories behind the image.

Encourage your families to go a step further and save things like their loved one’s tribute video or registry book, print out their social memorial website, or save any other personalization memorabilia they created for the funeral service. Replaying a memorial video on a loved one’s birthday, or even when families are feeling strong feelings of loss, can also help to bring memories and emotions fresh to their minds for years and years to come… all from a video that your funeral home created in minutes.

To learn more about the benefits of our Life Tributes video software or to sign up for a free 30 day trial, click here.

As funeral professionals, it’s our job to help families memorialize their loved ones and find ways to to take life celebrations to the next level.What ways do you help your families celebrate life after the funeral is over? Tell us in the comments below!

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  1. Dan Carlson


    I really enjoyed your post and agree it’s so very important to help families and friends remember to give themselves permission to reflect, celebrate, and continue to include the memory of a lost loved one in meaningful ways, even after they’ve left us. In particular I’d like to add one point to #4 and going a step further.

    I founded GEO Graves, LLC out of the need, as someone within a “future generation”, to be able to actually visit the graves of family members who died before I was able to memorize where they were buried. I found it very difficult and stressful to find one grave marker among a sea of thousands. So while I’m not a funeral professional in a traditional sense, I am able to offer funeral homes & directors my partnership so that their families can add the grave of a lost loved one, enabling anyone to easily spend a few quite moments alone or together at any grave site, anywhere.


  2. Shelly Payan

    This is a great article. I work for a preneed company in which we supply the tools to funeral homes to keep providing service after the service through our advanced planning program. While it is very successful, you have provided some really great ideas. My Uncle died just six weeks ago from cancer He was well known in his community as he was the Sheriff for many years. The community has gathered and talked to a local golf course to name a hole in his honor. His name is Robert, but he has always been known as Rabbit. The golf course agreed, a monument company made a rabbit from granite and the hole is now called “The Bunny Hole”. It is a great tribute to my uncle and it means the world to my aunt. Thank you for publishing this article!