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Paying Tribute: Meaningful Ways to Honor Someone

by Ellie Chang
June 10, 2024
9 min read
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I was on a family road trip in Taiwan when my mom showed me the email. There was something in the tension of her posture, the softening in her eyes, the almost reluctant way she handed me her phone.

My friend, Jasmine, had passed away from cancer.

She was twelve, and I was thirteen. It is one thing to deal with loss. It is another thing to deal with it so young. Luckily, I had a loving support system in the form of my dad, my mom, and Jasmine's own parents. In time, it no longer became a weathering of her loss but a steady desire to ensure her boundless laughter and fierce spirit stayed alive.

In this article, I'd like to share the meaningful ways to honor someone who carried me through my own journey of dealing with grief and additional methods acquired through research. Whether you have lost someone unimaginably dear to you or harbor empathy for someone else's loss, paying tribute to a loved one's memory is one of the most genuine forms of healing and remembrance that anyone can take part in.

At, we understand the desire to carry on a loved one's memory. Become a donor today and change a student's life in honor of your loved one.

types of tributes

Types of Tributes: Ways to Honor Someone's Memory

1. Personal Tributes

Personal tributes often involve sharing memories, expressing gratitude, and preserving the essence of the loved one in a personalized manner.

Letters and Heartfelt Messages

Writing a letter or a heartfelt message is a deeply personal way to convey your feelings and memories about a loved one. Putting your thoughts into words can be a cathartic and lasting tribute.

  • Express Emotions: Share your feelings, recount special moments, and express what the person meant to you.
  • Share Gratitude: Thank the loved one for their influence, support, and the role they played in your life.

Personal Stories and Anecdotes

Sharing personal stories and anecdotes can be done in various formats, such as a speech at a memorial service, a blog website post, or a private gathering with loved ones.

  • Storytelling: Narrate memorable events and highlight the unique qualities and traits of the loved one. Listen to the stories of others too.
  • Humor and Heart: Incorporate humorous and touching moments to paint a well-rounded picture of the person.


As a writer, I processed my own grief and paid tribute towards Jasmine's own writing passions through a series of poems and a long eulogy which was published on the posthumous website her dad set up for her.

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public and personal tributes

2. Public Tributes

Public tributes are a way to remember a loved one in a manner that reaches beyond personal circles, involving communities, organizations, and sometimes the broader public.

Memorial Services and Ceremonies

Memorial services and ceremonies (or a funeral if the loved one's body is present) are traditional ways to publicly honor a person who has passed away. These events provide a structured environment for family, friends, and colleagues to talk, listen, remember, and pay their respects.

  • Eulogies and Speeches: Invite speakers who knew the individual well to talk about their thoughts and memories, providing a diverse perspective on the person.
  • Symbolic Acts: Incorporate symbolic acts such as lighting candles, releasing balloons, or playing the loved one's favorite music to create an atmosphere of remembrance and dedication.

Dedications and Plaques

Dedicating a physical space or installing a plaque in a person's honor is a lasting way to publicly acknowledge their contributions and remember them.

  • Location: Choose a special spot that was significant to the individual or where their impact was most felt.
  • Inscription: Craft a thoughtful inscription that captures the essence of the person and their contributions. Some popular inscription ideas include quotes and simple phrases.

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Public Speeches and Eulogies

Public speeches and eulogies can be delivered at various events, including memorial services, gatherings of loved ones, and official ceremonies.

  • Preparation: Prepare a speech that highlights key aspects of the person's best life, achievements, and character.
  • Impact: Emphasize the loved one's impact on the community, organization, or society, ensuring that while you have lost the loved one, you will not lose their memory.


I flew in from a different country to attend Jasmine's memorial service. It was a cathartic and comforting experience, being with others who had been touched by Jasmine. For all of us to stay connected throughout the service... it somehow allowed us to feel closer to Jasmine, knowing she was the one who had brought us all together.

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honoring a loved one

3. Charitable Tributes

Charitable tributes are a way to remember someone who has passed away by giving back to the community or supporting causes that were important to them. These tributes not only celebrate the individual's life but also create a positive impact beyond their death.

Donations to Causes They Cared About

Making a donation to a charity or cause that was important to the loved one is an example of a direct and impactful way to honor someone.

  • Research and Select a Cause: Choose a charity or nonprofit organization that aligns with the loved one's values, interests, or passions.
  • Donations: Make a significant one-time donation in their name to support the cause or set up recurring donations on important dates such as the anniversary of their death or the loved one's birthday. For a mother or grandmother who has passed, Mother's Day may be a significant date, too.

Volunteering in Their Name

Volunteering your time and skills to causes the loved one cared about is a hands-on, meaningful way to honor someone and make a difference.

  • Organize Volunteer Events: Gather family, friends, and community members to participate in volunteer events or service projects.
  • Regular Volunteering: Commit to regular volunteer work with organizations or causes the loved one supported.

Establishing a Memorial Scholarship on

Creating a memorial scholarship in a loved one's name can raise money to support education, research, or other projects, ensuring their memory contributes to future generations. With, a registered nonprofit, this process is streamlined so you can honor someone's memory in a stress-free and positive manner.

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My family has donated money to Jasmine's giving page for the MSK Cancer Center in order to fund cancer research. In addition, we've contributed funds towards constructing a memorial bench in her elementary school and my sister completed a run in her honor.

4. Creative Tributes

Creative tributes offer a unique and personal way to honor a loved one through artistic expression.

Art and Sculpture

Creating or commissioning art and sculptures can be a powerful tribute, immortalizing the loved one's memory in a visual form that can be appreciated for generations after their death.

  • Photos and Paintings: Commission or create a painting or photo that reflects the person's character, achievements, or favorite activities.
  • Exhibitions: Organize an art exhibition featuring works that were inspired by the individual or created by them if they were an artist.

Music and Songs

Music has a way of touching the soul in a way no other art form can. Honoring a loved one through composing or dedicating music to the loved one can allow others to be touched by the loved one's spirit, long after their death.

  • Original Compositions: Write and perform an original song or piece of music that captures the spirit and life of the individual. It may also serve as a powerful way to process your own grief.
  • Dedications: Dedicate a concert or performance to the person's memory, including pieces that were significant to them.

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Literature and Poetry

Composing literature and poetry can be a deeply personal way to honor a loved one who has passed, allowing you to express the emotions that come after losing a loved one.

  • Poems, Short Stories, or Essays: Compose literary pieces that reflect the loved one's life, character, and impact on others.
  • Publications: Publish a collection of writings dedicated to the loved one, sharing their story and memory with people across the world.


Jasmine had wanted to become a novelist. Sharing the same hope, I strive to become the writer she never got the opportunity to become. Jasmine is also a direct inspiration for one of the characters in an ongoing manuscript.

Furthermore, Jasmine's dad has published one of her mystery novels, and the Make-A-Wish foundation helped Jasmine assemble an art book of her pieces.

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honoring your loved one

5. Lasting Tributes

Lasting tributes are enduring ways to honor someone's memory, ensuring their memory remains alive for future generations.

Naming a Star or Celestial Body

Naming a star or celestial body after someone can be a unique and symbolic tribute, offering a sense of permanence and celestial connection.

  • Star Registries: Use a reputable star registry to name a star after the individual, often accompanied by a certificate and star map.
  • Astronomical Features: Consider naming other celestial features, such as asteroids or constellations, through appropriate channels if possible.

Creating a Legacy Project or Foundation

Establishing a legacy project or foundation can support ongoing charitable activities, research, or initiatives that reflect the person's values and passions.

  • Legacy Projects: Develop ideas that address a cause that the individual cared about, such as building a community center, library, or educational program.
  • Foundations: Create a foundation in the person's name to fund various charitable activities, providing financial support to causes they championed.

Planting Trees or Gardens

Planting a tree or establishing a garden of flowers can symbolize growth, life, and renewal, creating a living memorial that will flourish over time.

  • Memorial Trees: Plant a tree in a special spot, such as a park, school, or family property, with a plaque or marker to honor the loved one. Memorial flowers also work just as well.
  • Tree Planting Events: Organize annual tree planting events in their name, encouraging others to participate and contribute to a greener world. Consider a memorial garden too.


In honoring Jasmine's artistic streak, Jasmine's school has set up an annual art award for the 8th-grade student who most exemplifies a passion and talent for art.

If you're looking to honor a loved one but don't have the funds, check out our step-by-step guide to starting a fundraiser.

honoring a loved one

Frequently Asked Questions About Paying Tribute

How can I incorporate my loved one's birthday into my method of paying tribute?

There are many ways to do so, such as hosting a special event, celebration or gathering on their birthday, inviting loved ones to celebrate their life and share memories. Additionally, consider making a donation or volunteering for a cause they cared about on their birthday.

How to honor someone with a memorial bench?

To honor a loved one with a memorial bench, contact your local parks department or relevant authority to inquire about guidelines and permissions and choose a suitable location. You can then work with a contractor or bench manufacturer to design and install the bench, including a plaque with a dedication.

What should I say and do when I visit a loved one's burial site?

When visiting a loved one's burial site, speak from the heart and consider updating them on significant events or milestones. It may also be cathartic to prepare your loved one's favorite meal and bring this favorite meal to their burial site.

Our donor FAQ page is the perfect next stop if you have more questions about starting a memorial fund with to honor your loved one.

Ellie Chang
Content Writer

About Ellie

Ellie is an exceptional writer and researcher with expertise in financial aid, scholarship applications, and aid negotiation. Throughout high school, she applied for scholarships and was able to win enough to cover all of her external scholarship limit.

Ellie is a freshman at Brown University, majoring in Classics and Literary Arts with a focus on fiction. She’s currently a research assistant for the American Sign Language department at Brown University where she fulfills many different roles to promote ASL's presence on campus and in the local community.


Despite being a recent high school graduate, Ellie has already built a strong foundation as a writer. She volunteered with an online nonprofit to launch their pilot blog program, excelling as both a writer and editor. Her role as the editor-in-chief of her high school newspaper further honed her editorial skills, while her participation in international Debate & Forensics competitions enhanced her ability to craft compelling arguments and narratives. These experiences showcase her initiative, leadership, and dedication to the craft of writing.

Since joining the team in 2024 as a Content Writer, Ellie has leveraged her extensive background as a scholarship applicant and recipient to help others navigate the scholarship application process. Her expertise also includes crafting resumes, writing cover letters, and preparing for interviews.

As a student who will invariably graduate with debt, she is increasingly sensitive to the financial pressures college students face. Motivated by her desire to make a meaningful impact, she aims to advocate for accessible financial resources and support systems that can help alleviate the burden of higher education costs for future students.

Ellie is driven by her passion to make a meaningful impact. Through her creative and engaging writing, she addresses relevant issues with the powerful art of storytelling. Ellie strives to make information accessible, helping students understand the nuances of college life.

Quote from Ellie

 "There is a defiance in being a dreamer." 

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