How To Write A Tribute To A Loved One

Writing a tribute to a loved one to read at a funeral can seem a daunting prospect, can’t it. I mean, where do you start? Often we are writing these at one of the saddest moments of our lives and it can be hard to think of the things that made this person great, when it breaks your heart to recall these things you will miss.

But equally, putting to paper the things about your loved one that made you smile can be therapeutic and help us in our time of sadness.
So where do you start? There is no real answer to this – just write the first things that come to mind. If it is easier, make a list of everything that reminds you of them. you can always flesh the list out afterwards – or not! Some people just like to read out a list as a tribute – there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to sharing how your loved one made you feel.

If you are really stuck, here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Three words you think of when you think of your loved one
  • What colour does your loved one remind you of?
  • Would your loved one have a ‘soundtrack’ to life? For example, if you could imagine music to accompany the life and the things they did, what would it be?
  • If you were making a recipe of your loved one, what would you put in it (eg, a scoop of love, a pinch of reason, a spritz of chanel no 5…)
  • What are three significant moments or milestones you shared with your loved one?
Lastly, it might help to create a ‘mood board’ of things your loved one liked, with pictures of them. Even just describing the mood board is a great tribute.
when it comes to writing your tribute, there are no rules- you don’t have to go in time-order, and you could even write sentences down and randomise them – like a poem, or link the sentences with a ‘catch phrase’ (some examples of this style of ‘poem’ below)

One the Day:

You might be a bit nervous about reading you tribute out on this emotional occasion. Here’s a few tips:

  • Take some tissues – remember it’s okay to feel emotional, everyone will understand if you feel emotional during your tribute
  • Your celebrant will be there to help you! Send them a copy of your tribute and let them know if you would like them to read it on your behalf. We are happy to do this, and we are just as happy to stand by and if you give us the nod, to pick up your tribute if you feel like you can’t continue reading it. We are here to catch you, basically.
  • Take your time to read it, take a breath after each sentence.
  • Remember, you are surrounded by loved ones, and people your loved one knew and loved. They are not there to judge you at all, they are there to share your lovely words about the person who they also loved.
  • Print your reading out with a large font size – the lighting is typically soft in a funeral venue so your usual font size might be difficult to read – the bigger the better!

And Then The Sun Came Out…

Most of us, when we attend the funeral of a loved one, even if we don’t believe in the after life, look for a sign that they are still with us. Yes, it might be wishful thinking, but we take comfort in signs, it makes us feel like our loved one is there, looking over us, and death isn’t the full stop at the end of life.

At yesterday’s service, it really felt like there was a sign. It was a freezing cold day, there were even a few wisps of snow, starting to whisper out of the sky, but as soon as the hearse arrived, the sun came out. Without the bitter temperature, you would be forgiven for thinking it was a lovely summer’s day. The sun stayed out, and bright until the curtains were closed at the committal. If there was anyone at that service, looking for a sign, then that would have been all the reassurance they needed.

Here’s an inspiring poem, which I read as part of the service…

When I’m Gone By Mosiah Lyman Hancock

When I come to the end of my journey
And I travel my last weary mile
Just forget if you can, that I ever frowned
And remember only the smile 

Forget unkind words I have spoken
Remember some good I have done
Forget that I ever had heartache
And remember I’ve had loads of fun 

Forget that I’ve stumbled and blundered
And sometimes fell by the way
Remember I have fought some hard battles
And won, ere the close of the day 

Then forget to grieve for my going
I would not have you sad for a day
But in summer just gather some flowers
And remember the place where I lay 

And come in the shade of evening
When the sun paints the sky in the west
Stand for a few moments beside me
And remember only my best