We pay tribute many times in our lives.
It might be a tribute to your personal heroes, one that shows your respect to somebody you admire, or one that celebrates an important milestone.
Tributes can be given at various occasions — think of toasts at weddings or “thank-you's” at birthdays. Another place where we commonly hear tributes is at funerals. And now, as the digital era takes over, online tributes have become a popular way to honour a loved one online.
If you’ve recently lost a relative or close friend, it may fall on you to deliver a tribute at an upcoming service.
A touching tribute is important, but it can also be incredibly difficult to write, given the circumstances. So we've compiled some useful tips that will help you create a meaningful, personalised, and tasteful tribute.
The purpose of an online tribute
The key purpose of a tribute is to show your respect and admiration for the person you want to honour.
Most tributes for loved ones who have died combine both celebration and mourning. On the one had, your tribute will celebrate a life well-lived; on the other, it expresses your sorrow that they are gone.
It’s a difficult balance to strike, but that's why we're here. Ultimately, though, keep in mind that you'll likely want to celebrate and honour your loved one in your tribute.
The basics of writing an online tribute
There’s no one formula for writing an effective tribute. As with an obituary, it all comes down to the person you’re paying tribute to and what you want to say.
That said, a couple of staples are present in just about every tribute out there. If you’re short on ideas, don’t be afraid to...
Open by mentioning your relationship to your loved one
It may sound basic, but opening with your relationship to the person who's died is as good a starting point. Not only does it give context for those who read the tribute, it also serves as a jumping-off point for anecdotes and stories about your loved one.
If the purpose of a tribute is to remember and celebrate the deceased, as the spouse, child, close friend, relative, workmate or neighbour, your relationship gives you a lot of material to work with.
Describe admirable traits, qualities and achievements
Part of your online tribute can show your appreciation and respect for the person who's died, so you might mention the things you admired about them.
It doesn’t have to be world-changing stuff — just write from the heart. You can include simple things like:
Their career progression
Causes they supported
Their family life
Personal struggles they overcame
Their faith and passions.
Laughs, tears surprises. Each of these can trigger strong reactions in listeners and readers, and all can be shared in your online tribute.
Putting pen to paper: our tips for tribute-writing
Now you’ve got an idea of what to include, we reach what's arguably the hardest part: writing your tribute.
Since you may not have written a tribute before, the act of putting pen to paper can be challenging, to say the least. Here's how to get started, and write a really meaningful, memorable tribute.
1: Use your own words, language and style of speech
When writing tributes, many of us default to a formal tone of speech — funerals and wakes are a formal occasion, after all. Many use often-repeated words and phrases such as “cherished friend” and “devoted partner”.
These are powerful, emotive ways of describing someone you love. But if this doesn’t reflect the way you actually talk, the tribute might come across as less personal, or less authentic, than if you write as you speak.
In the end, the choice is yours, but we recommend making your tribute more "your own" by using the language you use to speak.
2: Don’t be afraid to abandon the traditional structure
Don’t be fooled into thinking that all tributes need to follow the exact same formula. While it’s a safe bet, it also means that your tribute may not reflect the person you’re trying to celebrate.
Say you’re paying tribute to a fairly conservative relative or friend. If so, the traditional approach may be entirely appropriate.
On the other hand, if the deceased is more progressive or creative, don’t be afraid to pay tribute in a less orthodox way. For example, you may use music if it’s a spoken tribute, or frame the entire tribute as a story.
3: Keep it positive, even if things weren’t peachy
We’re not saying you should airbrush your loved one's shortcomings — life is a series of ups and downs, and you can’t ignore the lows completely. But again, it's important to keep the overall tone of your tribute positive. You're celebrating your loved one, after all.
If your relationship was turbulent, acknowledge it, while also bringing attention towards the common ground you shared. Also consider bringing in other people’s experiences with your loved one to create a more comprehensive image, or perhaps consider speaking about your regrets.
If the person who's died was troubled in some way, consider highlighting their struggles to overcome those difficulties. While the tone should be positive, excluding the reality of your loved one's life can feel dishonest.
Sharing your tribute
Paying tribute online can be fraught with risk. While some social media platforms offer the ability to set up memorial pages for those who have died, the fact is that these platforms aren’t great for paying tribute.
For starters, there’s the question of ads. Memorials are sacred — you don’t want garish, tasteless advertising lining the sidebar.
Moreover, a public social media page is completely open to abuse and internet trolls — the last thing you want when dealing with a recent loss.
Memories provides an online space where you can create online tributes that avoid these problems. A Memories online memorial guarantees:
No ads: we offer a respectful space
Moderation that protects you from online abuse
A permanent online tribute
An affordable one-off publishing fee.
The online memorial doesn't just allow you to publish your tribute, though: it lets others share theirs, along with photos, videos, slidehows and more. In this way, your tribute becomes the starting point for a lasting, multi-faceted celebration of your loved one's life: the best way to remember them for years to come.