12 Unique Ways to Memorialize a Loved One

February 16 2024 – Mike Yarbrough

12 Unique Ways to Memorialize a Loved One
12 Unique Ways to Memorialize a Loved One

Losing a loved one can be one of life's most challenging experiences, fraught with complicated feelings and exhausting cycles of grief. While the pain of your loved one’s absence may never fully go away, taking the time to move through the stages of grief does help in your healing process. One helpful part of this process can include finding meaningful ways to memorialize your departed loved ones, which can bring you comfort and helps to keep their memory alive. To give you some ideas, here is a collection of thoughtful memorialization ideas to inspire your commemorative project.

Celebrate Their Life with Community

1. Reserve a Seat for Them at Events

As a touching way to honor your loved one, particularly during holidays, you can symbolically reserve a seat for them at your milestone gatherings. Whether it's a family dinner, a wedding, or another important life event, this gesture serves as a constant reminder of their presence and pays homage to their memory. Making a physical space for their memory can also help you represent the feeling that they never really left.

 2. Get Together with Family and Friends on Their Birthday

Another way to commemorate your departed loved one is to hold a special celebration on their birthday. By gathering with people to share favorite memories, foods, and stories, you will continue the traditions your loved one enjoyed in life. Getting together on special days like birthdays is especially helpful for people during the first year of loss. It allows friends and family to focus on the love that continues to surround them while honoring the memory of their loved one.

3. Hold a Candlelight Vigil

When you’re experiencing the early stages of loss, it can be important to gather your community. A candlelight vigil can serve as a grounding way to sit with memories of your loved one in the company of others. Inviting friends and family to be with you in a quiet moment of reflection can also be a powerful way to mourn and process loss at times when it feels words cannot suffice. This simple yet powerful gesture can provide a sense of unity and support, allowing you to sit in the healing presence of others and feel the power of your loved one’s memory.

4. Volunteer at a Cause They Supported

Commemorating your loved one’s wishes by volunteering can also help translate your inner grief into outward healing. Continuing your loved one's legacy by volunteering for a cause they cared about in life can be incredibly meaningful and cathartic. Whether it's a local charity, animal shelter, or community organization, contributing your time and energy in their honor can be a way to pay tribute to their values and continue the work they held dear.

Actions to Carry Out in Their Honor

5. Complete Something They Left Unfinished

If your loved one left behind unfinished projects or dreams, consider taking on the responsibility of completing them. If it’s a physical item or craft, and you don’t personally have the skills to finish the task, you can consider reaching out to organizations that assist in the process like The Loose Ends Project, which matched volunteer crafters with your loved one’s unfinished creative projects. Or maybe your loved one left behind a community project, garden, or uncompleted written work; finding ways to step in and close the loop on these projects can be a helpful way to feel you’ve honored your loved one. While you shouldn’t feel pressure to do so, this kind of healing can serve as a powerful way to connect with the spirit of your loved one.

6. Cook Some of Their Favorite Food

As a meaningful way to nourish yourself and others, food has the unique ability to evoke memories that can comfort you through the healing process. By cooking (and sharing!) some of your loved one's favorite meals with friends and family, you can bring the tastes and smells of your favorite memories back to life. This tangible and delicious way to heal can also serve as a fun way to share treasured family recipes with others.


7. Travel Somewhere They Loved or Always Wanted to Go

Whether it’s a homeland or a long dreamt of vacation destination, traveling to a place your loved one cherished can help you connect with their memory. Embarking on a journey to a destination they held dear can also be helpful to move through your grief by gaining the fresh perspective offered by travel. Whether you’re traveling solo or with family and friends, you can create new lasting memories and a connection to your loved one’s spirit by experiencing a place that held significance for them.

8. Care for Their Final Resting Place

As a widely practiced custom across many cultures, the act of caring for a grave site can help maintain an important connection with the departed. You can show your respect and love by helping to upkeep the final resting place of your departed loved one. By going on regular visits, doing regular cleaning, and adding personal touches, you can turn the grave or memorial space into a tranquil tribute, allowing you to feel connected to your loved one as the years go by. 

Make Something You Can Remember Them By

9. Make a Quilt from Their Clothes

As a tangible way to carry your loved one’s memory with you, you might also consider transforming an item they owned into a new item for your home or closet. Transform your loved one's clothing into a quilt (or vice versa!) creating a comforting and tangible memento. Each stitch tells a story, preserving their warmth and essence in a unique and personal way. With the rise of quilted jackets and other fun DIY mementos, you or a seasoned crafter can also transform any of your loved one's beloved textiles into wearable pieces.

10. Document Their Know-How

In a world of digital content, it can be easy to forget to archive the important items, some of which exist only in the physical world. You might, for example, find your loved one’s handwritten recipes and have them copied, etched, or painted onto a more permanent piece. Maybe you find their handwritten journals, photographs, or notes, and compile a scrapbook or bound collection. You can also write down any stories they told or songs they sang to you to record their spoken history, creating a digital archive to pass down their legacy to future generations.


11. Plant a Tree in Memory of a Loved One

Another thoughtful and eco-friendly way to memorialize a loved one is by planting a tree in their memory. By caring for this living thing and watching it grow, you can enjoy the symbolism of life progressing onward and maintain a strong, enduring connection with your loved one’s memory. Watching your sapling flourish into a shade-giving tree can become a living tribute to their spirit.


12. Create a Piece of Memorial Jewelry from a Sentimental Heirloom

Another way to keep your loved one close is to transform a cherished heirloom into a piece of memorial jewelry. Whether it's a pendant, bracelet, or ring, wearing this tangible reminder allows you to keep your loved one close to your heart in a special way. At Rustic & Main, we've had the honor of crafting custom memorial rings with the sentimental materials our customers associated with their loved ones. People have sent in everything from military uniform fabric, wood from a childhood home, gold from a wedding ring, and even yarn made from dog hair.

These are the stories behind two custom memorial rings. We deeply appreciate the customers who shared these meaningful stories and are honored they chose R&M to create these meaningful tributes to their loved ones.

Savanna's Memorial Ring

Savanna lost her dad to pancreatic cancer and wanted to create a piece of jewelry that honored his memory. He had passed down his love for golf and His Savior to Savanna, so she wanted to incorporate materials that celebrated those two things. She gave R&M his Bible, some of his funeral flowers, and the last golf glove he wore. Our talented artisan, Kassie, used black fabric from the Bible's bookmark to create the first inlay. In the second inlay, she deftly hand-placed the funeral flowers, part of the golf glove, and two Bible passages that Savanna's dad loved.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16, KJV) 

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9, KJV )

Savanna also requested gold flakes be added to represent 1 Peter 1: 7.

"I wanted to put gold flakes in the ring as a reminder that our suffering is never for nothing," said Savanna. "that God doesn't waste an ounce of our pain, and he uses it for His glory and our good."

Kassie used these unique materials to create a beautiful tribute to Savanna's dad. We're so grateful that Savanna trusted R&M to craft such a meaningful ring from her cherished heirlooms. Thank you, Savanna, for sharing the story behind your memorial ring.


Allen's Wedding Band

Allen's wood wedding band beautifully honors his grandfathers with two very sentimental items: his maternal grandfather's smoking pipe and his paternal grandfather's wedding ring.

Allen sent his grandfather's wedding ring to Facet Foundry, where they melted down the band into a gold metal inlay.

Our craftsmen inlaid the gold in the middle of Allen's ring and framed it with wood from his other grandfather's smoking pipe, and flowers from the same field Allen's wife, LeAnn's wedding bouquet came from.

Thank you, Allen, for sharing the story behind your ring, and giving our team the opportunity to craft a custom wedding band from such sentimental items.


While the grieving process may feel exhausting and confusing, memorializing a loved one can be a helpful and important part of creating personal meaning during your healing process. By incorporating these commemorative ideas into your life, you can honor your loved one’s memory, celebrate their life, and find solace in the enduring connection you share. May these heartfelt gestures bring comfort and strength as you navigate the journey of remembrance, ensuring that your loved ones will always be with you in your heart.