Ways to remember a loved one

Commemorating the life of a loved one

Memorial services

There are some occasions where a family might decide to hold a separate committal and memorial service: perhaps the one who died requested a direct cremation, or to leave their body to medical science, and their family and friends want to respect those wishes but still have the opportunity to gather, share memories and say goodbye. Perhaps the one who died requested a private committal, attended by immediate family only, followed by a separate ceremonial event for wider family members and friends. Perhaps the funeral has taken place abroad, but then there are friends or relatives at home who would like the closure of attending a service honouring their loved one.    

The historic Hotel Cromwell, on the high street of Stevenage's Old Town, offers exclusive use of its reception suites which can either be hired individually or in tandem so that one is set up for the memorial service and the other for the wake, a selection of menu packages, parking and overnight accommodation if required.  Verulam Golf Club, in St Albans, offers exclusive use of a pair of adjoining rooms over-looking the grounds, with parking, buffet catering, teas and coffees and a licenced bar.  The family-run High Elms Manor, just down the road from West Herts Crematorium,  is both a wake and memorial service venue offering room hire, buffet catering and free parking in a tranquil setting.  Alternatively, wedding venues such as Toddington Park will sometimes consider hosting memorial services (subject to availability) providing beautiful settings, on-site parking and the options of outdoor or indoor gatherings depending on the vagaries of the British weather.

Memory quilts and keepsakes

Some people find comfort in the act of creating something beautiful to remember the person who has died. The American artist, Sherri Lynn Wood, promotes the idea of ‘passage quilting’ - making memory quilts from material with emotional significance such as items of clothing - to honour and celebrate relationships.  If the idea of creating a personal memorial keepsake appeals, but the act of sewing it together yourself doesn’t (!), you can send a selection of clothes or materials with emotional significance to Sharisse (of Quilts by Sharisse ) who will turn them into a stunning memory quilt - email quiltsbysharisse@gmail.com for further details.  Alternatively, Tracy (of Tracy’s Treasured Keepsakes) makes a range of memory keepsakes from bears to cushions.  

Tree sponsorship

Many people like the idea of planting a tree to commemorate someone who has died, but it is not always easy to find somewhere locally to plant one.  Highfield Park Trust in St Albans has a tree sponsorship scheme offering the opportunity to sponsor one of the established trees on their tree trail in Highfield Park.  If a friend or family member has died, and is now buried or scattered some distance from where you live, sponsoring a local tree gives you a symbol of remembrance you can visit within easy reach of your home.  Please see Highfield Park Trust's Tree Sponsorship Information and Tree Sponsorship Form for more information.

Memorial walks

One of the positive things that came out of lockdown, and the need to consider different ways of being able to celebrate lives and share memories, was the rise of the ‘funeral walk’.  When lockdown restrictions forbade indoor gatherings but allowed people to meet outdoors, going for a walk allowed them to draw support from each other.  Moving forward, arranging a memorial walk during the months following the funeral, or on the anniversary of death, provides another opportunity to commemorate a life with friends and family.  ‘Explore St Albans’ has suggestions of walks with refreshment stops.  Please see The Alban Way’s top walking routes in and around St Albans

Memory Boxes and Online Digital Tributes

Creating a memory box allows people to capture the memories they want to keep hold of.  A memory box is a physical box containing tangible objects with emotional significance. However, an online digital tribute service offers a virtual equivalent, enabling people to collate their memories by uploading stories, anecdotes, pictures, video, music and thoughts.  Some digital tribute services create and manage the tribute for you, and provide the option of a QR code for accessing and sharing more easily, eg Your Loving Memory. Others are intended to be curated and managed by the family eg Much Loved.