A picture is worth a thousand words.
Nowhere is that more relevant than at a funeral, where words often fail us, or go unheard through the fog of grief. Memory boards and memory tables have become popular at a variety of mourning gatherings – whether wake, funeral or life celebration – because they offer a simple way to touch memories and tell stories.
A memory board is a large board usually propped on an easel upon which photographs and pertinent information honoring the deceased are placed. Memory tables serve the same purpose and often include three-dimensional memorabilia and other symbolic items.
Below are six ways to create a memory board or table to celebrate the life of a lost loved one.
1. Check with the Funeral Home
Because memory boards and tables have become increasingly popular, many funeral homes have easels and tables already elegantly prepared for items to be arrayed on them. Before planning a memory board or table for display at the funeral home, contact them to determine what they already have for you and where they recommend it be placed.
2. Reach Out to Others Who May Have Items to Share
It makes sense that the family would have the most personal and poignant items recounting the most interesting days of the dearly departed’s life. However, it is possible that others also have cherished items to share, perhaps from early life, or from college or military service. Those artifacts can really enhance the story because they may reveal the individual’s experiences that were previously not well known. “People are honored to contribute because it connects them to someone they knew and cared about, so don’t be afraid to ask,” says Sandy Stuhr, Sr., CEO of Stuhr Funeral Home. “In-person and phone requests are more personal, but even blast emails and social media requests for artifacts may be appropriate.”
3. Collect Photographs from the Deceased’s Entire Life
Particularly on memory boards, photographs do most of the work of telling the story of the deceased’s life. Try to find pictures that celebrate the full breadth of their time on Earth, not just their adult life. The more complete the picture, the more satisfying for everyone and the more well-rounded the story that can be conveyed.
4. Use Words to Give Context
Photos and memorabilia representing the person’s life are great storytellers, but may require some context. When creating the memory board or table, write down places, dates, identifying information of others in the photos, and the significance of the items being represented. Visitors might not know why there is, for example, a banana, a concert ticket and a hard hat on the table without some explanation. “Others who knew the deceased may be able to contribute in that regard as well,” says Stuhr. “Their input can further round out the deceased person’s life story.”
5. Find the Right Place for It
When these kinds of shrines to the memory of a loved are placed at a funeral, wake or reception, care must be taken to locate them out of the way of the crowd while maintaining accessibility. In other cases, they may be erected at sites that hold special meaning to the deceased. All that requires just a bit of forethought.
6. Provide an Opportunity for Visitors to Add Their Thoughts
People who care enough about the deceased will really appreciate the opportunity to add their thoughts at the ceremony. Providing an outlet – something as simple as a book of blank pages – to contribute memories, statements of grief and goodbyes, can enhance the experience for those who join you to celebrate the life of a loved one.
Stuhr Funeral Home, a trusted name in funeral service for more than 150 years, cares for families of those whose lives have ended. Stuhr Funeral Home is committed to providing quality arrangements to honor loved ones and family traditions. For more information about funeral services available, visit JHenryStuhr.com or call (843) 723-2524.