Family Reunion Memorial Ideas: How to Honor Late Loved Ones

Losing a family member is never easy, especially when you have a special connection with each other. What we can only hope now is to celebrate their life by honoring the memory of the dearly departed. 

A family reunion memorial is a good way to remember the family members who have already passed on. Furthermore, it is also a good event to honor their memory. This could be done either formally or informally, depending on your family’s personality.

A formal memorial service includes speeches or toasts about the deceased, as well as prayers. And, although memorials have structure, it could also be informal and personalized to the family’s and the departed’s nature.

Making Memorial Tributes

Tributes are ceremonies or symbolical actions usually made during funerals. However, this could also be done during memorials. Most commonly, memorial tributes are in the form of a speech, poem, or song. It is done to recognize the departed’s life here on earth.

If you find that calling it a ‘Memorial’ is too depressing, you could also dub it as a ‘Celebration of Life’, and make it more informal and creative.

When incorporating a memorial tribute for deceased family members on a family reunion, it’s important to plan it out beforehand. No matter how big or small the memorial would be, make sure that you schedule it into your program and have the necessary preparations for it. Also, don’t forget to let your other family members know about this segment of the reunion—they might want to participate in it. 

Memorial Ideas for Your Family Reunion

As you think of memorial ideas to do at your family reunion, make sure that it would embody your late family member’s personality. Although memorials are usually done for closure and emotional support for the living, it is also about honoring the deceased. 

If it is to celebrate the life of multiple family members, however, make it a more generalized memorial, but unique nonetheless. Below are a few family reunion memorial ideas you could adapt to honor those who are no longer here.

Remember, you don’t have to stick to a formal memorial if you don’t want to. Likewise, you don’t have to put out a huge amount of cash to make it a memorable and unique one. 

Include a Favorite Meal

You can honor your departed family member simply by serving their favorite meals, drinks, or desserts during the family reunion. It is a simple, yet endearing gesture to show that your late loved one is still in your memories.

Have a Memorial Corner

Pick a spot for a memorial corner where you set up a table filled with mementos, photos, and the likes. Aside from photos and trinkets, you could also put in a memorial tree—a small tree-like structure, such as a money tree or a DIY mini tree—and family members present in the reunion could write short messages for the departed.

The point is to set up a spot where family members could freely go to pay tribute to their lost loved ones in peace.

Create a Memory Capsule

Family members attending the reunion can bring an item each to put in a capsule that commemorates the recently departed loved ones. It could be anything, like a book, accessory, mementos, or a photo that signifies a cherished memory with the deceased. 

You could also encourage your family members to share a few words about the chosen item before putting it inside the memory capsule.

Play a Tribute Video

If you have a family member who is good with video editing, you could ask them to edit a video tribute for your departed family members. This is perfect for family reunion memorials that honor multiple family members. 

If you don’t have video footage from when your family member was alive, then photos would suffice. 

Write on Memorial Stones

Just like the memorial mini tree, you could write a short message for the departed on the stones. This is a good method to say one last goodbye or gain closure with all your family members from your loved one’s death.

Build a Cairn

A cairn consists of piled-up stones of varying sizes. Built for thousands of years, one of its main purposes is to honor the dead and mark a burial site. 

On your family reunion, especially if you’re celebrating it outdoors or in a significant location, you could incorporate this custom by having each family member pile a stone and say a short message or prayer.

Partake in a Memorial Release

Memorial releases signify letting go of the person that has passed away, and watching them soar up to heaven, where there’s eternal peace and salvation. 

If you’re opting for this kind of memorial, releasing a dove or butterflies is a good choice. Avoid going for balloons, as it is non-biodegradable and could harm animals and nature wherever it lands.

Floating or Sky Lanterns

Floating lanterns on seas or releasing them into the sky have different meanings for every tradition, and this practice is quite popular in many countries. It is believed that this was started in Ancient China by a military strategist to communicate. Nowadays, people do this to lift their wishes and prayers.

This act could be a symbolic way to say a parting message or a prayer for your loved ones who passed away, as you write on the lantern before releasing it either on a river or the sky. 

If you’re opting for this kind of memorial, make sure that you have done the necessary preparations beforehand, and that the lanterns you purchase are biodegradable. Also, make sure that the space is not a fire hazard.

Memorial Tree Planting

Tree planting is a beautiful way to memorialize your loved ones who passed away, especially if you want to commemorate multiple family members. Planning this and securing the necessary permits and such are important beforehand, so make sure that you have prepared everything at least a month before the reunion. 

Have an Open Mic Tribute

Just like on Open Mic Nights, everyone could step up and share tribute to the family members who have departed. Allot a portion of your family reunion (at least half an hour) into letting present family members honor the deceased in the form of a song, poem, anecdote, or anything else.

Make Reunion Favors in their Honor

You could customize your reunion favors to honor the memory of your departed. It would be best to make it subtle. Maybe you could put in their favorite color or you could make their favorite trinket into a reunion favor (i.e. keychain, charms, etc). 

Open a Donation Drive

If your departed loved one has a cause or charity they support, perhaps you could incorporate a donation drive to your family reunion. It could be as simple as opening a clothing drive, and each family member can bring one clothing to donate. Then, all the clothes—including the departed’s—would be donated to a charity shop.

Play a Game in their Honor

If your dearly departed loved playing games, celebrate them by having everyone play their favorite game/s in their honor? It’s a fun way to commemorate their memory, and it would also give a laugh to the close family members they left behind.


Commemorating the family members who have passed should not necessarily be sorrowful. Instead, we should celebrate their lives and the memories they left us with. Having a family reunion memorial can be a healing moment, not just for the immediate family members, but also for everyone that has been left behind. 

Perhaps remembering our dead with our family members is just the closure everybody needs. Paying respects to loved ones who have passed away through a beautiful memorial won’t dampen the mood. Think of it as an added celebration that is good for everyone’s spirits.

Laura is the force behind Gathered Again, transforming family gatherings into unforgettable memories with expert tips and a heart full of passion. Join her mission to celebrate the magic of family connections, one event at a time.

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