22 March 2019

Memory books are a beautiful and personal way to create a keepsake for remembering someone special, or telling the story of their life.

You can personalise a memory book with written memories, pictures, letters, poems, items of sentimental value and other mementos that will help you reflect on the life of someone close to your heart.

It doesn’t take an artistic whizz to create a wonderful memory book, so don’t be afraid if you’re not a Picasso in the making.

If you’re unsure where to begin, these lovely memory book ideas may inspire you.

How do I make a Memory Book?

Start out by buying a journal specially designed for compiling memories, or customise your very own memory book. You could cover a scrapbook or drawing book with plenty of blank pages with pretty paper, photos, or stamp it with motifs.

You might include the name and photo of the person who you are compiling the book in special memory of, along with their birth and death dates on the cover.

Their memory book could be the story of their life, or pages of special memories which you add to, on your journey through grieving them. It might be something you choose simply for yourself to reflect on, or to share with family and hand down to future generations.

Making a memory book for a loved one could be as simple as writing down things you remember and loved about a person, or a storybook of photos of with captions that reflect their life and times.

The memory book could begin around the time of someone’s funeral, with online obituaries and kind words from sympathisers forming the basis of a keepsake book. A memory book may also be something you begin at someone’s funeral or wake, allowing people to add memories, as well as messages of sympathy.

You might also include sympathy cards and funeral flower messages in a memory scrapbook.

A scrap book, leaves and a pencil
Credit: Loverna Journey on Unsplash

A memory book can be as long or as short as you want and you can continue to fill it over the years.

You may add new memories that come to mind as the months and years pass, or reflect on new things that have happened in your life that you know they would have enjoyed.

A memory book can be an ongoing journal of how the person you loved is still a big part of your life.

Create a photo memory book

Photos of mountains
Credit: Sarandy Westfall on Unsplash

Photographs can capture memories in so many different ways.

You could create a special photo memory book that features a timeline of the person’s life and favourite shared moments, or use photos to create a digital memory book online, which could prompt other people to share memories of that person.

Whether you’re compiling a paper journal, a memory box or an online memory book, you could invite friends and family to share their own favourite picture, with a message describing why the photo means or says so much.

In a digital age we can take so many photos – but don’t always print them out. A memory book could be the opportunity to choose and print some very special snaps from your phone or digital camera – and perhaps think about anyone else who might appreciate a printed copy to frame.

Press flowers in a memory book

Pressing flowers is not difficult – you can buy special kits, or simply preserve flowers between two layers of blotting or pressing paper, weighed down for a few weeks with heavy books until they dry.

You may want to press a flower, or flowers, from a loved one’s coffin spray and laminate it on the cover or among the pages of your memory album.

You could also press petals from a remembrance rose planted in their memory. There are lots to grow, which have special names to evoke memories of someone special.

A basket of roses
Credit: Roman Kraft on Unsplash

Write ‘I Miss You’ notes in your memory book

Arty greeting cards
Credit: Jessica To'oto'o on Unsplash

Just like you would write a card to a loved one who’s far away from you, you can express similar sentiments to someone who has died.

It’s an exercise that can help you focus on the things you miss about that person, as well as a way of journaling your journey through grief and healing around the space they have left in your heart.

Make room for other people’s memories in your memory journal

It’s a lovely idea to open a memory book at the funeral, so mourners can express their sympathies and share who the person was, to them.

Goodbyes and thank yous like this are one way to start a memory book.

Someone writing in a notebook
Credit: rawpixel on Unsplash

Another lovely idea for creating unique sets of memories is a “remembrance chain”. The idea comes from Allison Gilbert’s book Passed and Present.

You start by writing a memory of your loved one on a piece of paper, then mail it on to a friend or relative who does the same and then passes it on. Once everyone has added a memory you can add the completed chain to your memory book.

Letting Your Memory Book Grow

A memory book can grow with you over the years. It doesn’t need to have a beginning, middle and end. As the years go by, new memories will come back to you and new experiences will remind you of your loved one.

Someone flicking through a memory book
Credit: John Schnobrich on Unsplash

Creating a loose-leaf journal in a memory box or ring binder allows you to add extra pages or items around significant dates. Or you could create a new journal for every year that has passed, on an angelversary such as their birthday, a wedding anniversary or the anniversary of their death.

How do you write down memories?

One of the most meaningful elements of your memory book may be the memories you record in your own words.

A fountain pen writing in a notebook
Credit: Aaron Burden on Unsplash

You don’t need to worry about how neat your writing is or how well you word your memories either.

You might include lines from a poem that reflects how you feel, or a quote that inspires you to add your own words. You could print or copy out funny texts or thoughtful messages they sent.

This book is for you, to help you celebrate the life you had with a loved one, so whatever words you find connect you with memories of them are the right ones.

What should you write in a memory book for a loved one?

You could combine lots of the ideas in this list, to create a complete memory book about their loved one, as a gift to a loved one or friend.

If your memory book is about a friend, consider memories that remind you of why your relationship was so special. As well as happy times, your reflections could be about those moments when they helped you. What are some of the things they did or said, that you can draw strength from?

Friends sitting by the sea
Credit: Joshua Sazon on Unsplash

Think about the times you spent together that made an impact. Was there something you did with them that you couldn’t imagine doing with anyone else? Perhaps there was a time where you were together where you realised something about yourself.

Not every memory has to be profound. Any moments you spent together that made you smile, those are the kind of memories you could include too.

What should you write in a memory book for a grandparent?

Your grandparents’ memory book could be filled with memories from your childhood and how much the time you spent with them meant to you.

Perhaps writing a memory book about your nan or granddad could be the chance to find out more about the lives they had before you were even born. What do other people remember and what are the stories that old photos tell?

Did your grandmother have a favourite flower? You could press it and add it to the book.

Grandparents sitting by a lake
Credit: Sven Mieke on Unsplash

A memory book doesn’t even have to start with a book. You could begin with a shoebox of photos, cards and letters, or a jar of messages written on tiny scraps of paper, or little things that remind you of them.

It could be a recipe book filled exclusively with the favourite things they – or several much-missed people in your family – used to make.

You could even create an audio memory box filled with songs and music that remind you of someone and inspire you to write words in a book.

Your memory book could be filled with drawings about life with – and without – someone you miss; or poems that missing them has inspired you to write.

You could even begin a memory book online and create a social media page especially for it, or add your own words to movements such as Grief in Six Words which has inspired many people to express their loss in a short sentence, or Child Bereavement UK’s #One More Minute campaign sharing the words they would say to someone they miss.

– Read more: Be inspired by these special ideas for creating a tranquil space for remembrance.