How Death Keepsakes Can Bring You Comfort
When your loved one dies, death keepsakes items can bring you a measure of peace and healing.
When we experience the passing of a loved one, we instinctively want to reach out and grasp on to as much of our special person’s memory as we can. That’s why one of the most important and sacred parts of the grieving process is keeping memories alive after your loved one has passed. Not only are memories of happier times a great comfort in bereavement, but remembering can also feel like the best way to honor your loved one’s life and to keep them a central part of yours, too.
At times, it can feel like grief amplifies our memories. Sounds or smells can trigger some recollections. They can bring to mind even the tiniest of details we might otherwise not remember. For instance, the smell of pipe smoke might remind you of your grandfather and the tiny strokes of his handwriting as he smoked his pipe and did the Sunday crossword. Experiences that involve all our senses also tend to be strong triggers for memory. For example, the simple act of baking cookies might bring to mind the last day you spent with your mother, baking and talking and laughing together. So many of our memories are just below the surface, waiting to appear in our minds when one or all of our senses are stimulated.
What are Death Keepsakes?
Sometimes, we may not want to wait for a memory to appear in our consciousness. In fact, we may feel worried that we will begin to forget. That’s why it is so common to want physical reminders of those we have lost so that we can have them – and the memories they embody – with us all the time. These are called death keepsakes, and they could be items that belonged to our special people. But many people choose to create death keepsakes to remember those they have lost and share them with loved ones. Below we will discuss three common types of death keepsakes.
Distributable Death Keepsakes
If you’ve ever attended a funeral or memorial service, you may have come away with a card inscripted with a Bible verse or meaningful quotation. This is a common death keepsake that many funeral professionals provide for families to help them memorialize and remember the person who has passed on. Oftentimes, it also shows a photograph of the deceased, and it is offered to each person who comes to pay their respects.
Other similar death keepsakes include:
- A recipe card containing your loved one’s favorite comfort food recipe
- Seed packets to grow their favorite flowers
- A holiday ornament that can be displayed each year
- Memorial candles that are used during the funeral service and then taken home
Many funeral homes offer additional options, too, as a way to further personalize your loved one’s funeral or memorial service.
Personal Item Death Keepsakes
Another common type of death keepsake is something personal from the deceased. It may be an item that was important to them. Or may be simply something that feels important to you as you grieve their loss.
Common personal item death keepsakes include:
- Photo albums
- Shirts, jackets, or ties
- Keychains or pendants
- Favorite books
- Recipe cards and cookbooks
- Handwritten letters or journals
- Hobby memorabilia
- Sports team memorabilia
- Framed photos from their home
- Religious items, such as a rosary or family Bible
If you’ve lost someone, you undoubtedly understand just how much meaning can be found in these everyday items – as well as how much comfort these simple things can provide in your darkest hours of grief.
Personalized Death Keepsakes
A third popular type of death keepsake is one you can have made after your loved one’s death to help you feel they are always close to you. This could be jewelry containing the thumbprint of the person who has passed on or even special jewelry that safely secures a portion of your loved one’s cremated remains. Cremation jewelry can also be made with your loved one’s ashes. Some people choose to have gemstones made with their loved one’s ashes or to have glass jewelry infused with ashes. Such jewelry might also use meaningful symbols, such as a cross or an angel.
While jewelry is quite popular, you might also choose a different type of personalized death keepsake. It could be an engraved garden stone, a quilt, a keepsake urn, a suncatcher, or even a memorial tree planting. Many bereaved individuals also feel comfort in creating a memorial website for their loved one. Though it can’t be held in your hand as physical keepsakes can be, it is readily available on your phone or computer anytime you choose to visit in remembrance of your special person.
Choosing a Death Keepsake
Death keepsakes are connection points, repositories of memories, and the embodiment of the love we had for a deceased loved one. There are many options when it comes to memorializing your loved one’s memory with a meaningful death keepsake that accomplishes all of these things. The important thing to remember is that it should be something that feels special to you and which brings to mind good memories of your loved one. While it’s true that death keepsakes can also cause feelings of sadness, especially in the earliest stages of grief, the intensity usually passes and leaves behind meaning and memory in its place.
The things we keep near to us symbolize what is important to us. Choosing to remember your loved one with one or more types of death keepsakes is a healthy way to process your grief, remember happier times, and begin to move forward in your healing journey.