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How to write a tribute


How do we capture someone’s life in a tribute? Our lives are so rich with years of experiences, both at home and through our travels. We touch the lives of people who are close to us, and also people who we pass by. Small moments of great laughter can feel the most significant; daily habits leave deep impressions; and then there are profound moments of love, support and care.

When you love someone, you want to convey everything that they mean to you, and we’ve written this article to help you do this through a tribute.


Use your own words, language and style of speech

There are words that we traditionally use to commemorate people. We talk about cherishing them and their devotion. These are beautiful and emotive words and if they’re words that you use to describe your loved one, then you should use them.

However, if these words aren’t part of your day-to-day language, you don’t have to. The best way to share your memories, and bring your relationship with your loved one to life, is to use your own words, language and style of speech.

Big laughs, tears, surprises

When did you last have a big laugh, cry or surprise with your loved one? Can you share this moment? It’s possible that if the moment brought such a strong response in you both, it will highlight their character and also resonate with others.

What was your loved one most proud of and committed to?

We can be proud of moments in our lives like graduating from university, having children, buying a house, running a marathon, holding an exhibition and retiring. These proud moments can help you step through your loved one’s achievements.

In addition to this, there are also elements of our lives that we can be quietly committed to and working on every day. We can be committed listeners, contributors to the community, faithful to a religion or philosophy, passionate about music, have a strong work ethic, and be dedicated to family. These characteristics define us and our approach to life.

Quotes, song verses and poems

If there is a quote that your loved one felt strongly about or lived by, including it in your tribute can be an effective way of quickly conveying their convictions or approach to life. Also, favourite songs and poems may highlight their passions and sense of self. However, don’t feel compelled to use them if nothing stands out.

What if the relationship was troubled at times?

A difficulty arises if your relationship with your loved one was troubled. If this is the case, you could consider a few different approaches.

Firstly, our lives are long and varied and we have many different relationships. Although you may feel the need to mention your troubled relationship, there is likely to be room to also mention other people’s experiences with the deceased. This will help you create a broader picture, which doesn’t negate your feelings, but also represents others.

You can focus on the person’s life and achievements, rather than your relationship, to provide a descriptive tribute. Also, you may consider sharing the writing of the tribute with someone else who knew the deceased and who you trust to help you.

Tributes are public and generate a lot of emotions, it’s important to be honest with yourself and also clear about how other people will feel when they read the tribute.

How should I structure it?

You can write a tribute so it flows in chronological order, which is very easy for people to follow. The tribute can reflect different aspects of a person’s life, for example, family, friends, hobbies, work and holidays. Equally, it can be based on character traits. You can also be creative and write the tribute in the theme of their favourite movie, song or historical event.

You may choose the structure based on the character of your loved one. If they were conservative, you may choose a traditional approach. If they were creative, then representing their life in a creative way, like aligning it to the composition of a song, may be a way to add energy and excitement to the tribute.

Ask other people for their memories

Ask other people all of the questions that you’ve considered as part of this article. They could spark your own memories and highlight how people saw your loved one.

Quick tips to polish it up and make sure you haven’t missed anything

  • Check the spelling of names in your tribute to make sure that they’re all correct
  • Check any dates, particularly the birth date and date of the death, it’s easy to make a simple typo
  • Write a list of all of the people who should be mentioned in the tribute and make sure that they’re included
  • Write a list of the key events and characteristics that you think your loved one, and others would like to be mentioned
  • This may be a very emotional experience. Allow yourself time to write the memorial and even considering writing it, leaving it for a time, and coming back to it feeling fresh
  • Share the tribute with people you trust so that they can help you proofread it and talk about the tone, sentiments and events in the tribute


Most importantly, consider whether your tribute shares a vivid picture of your loved one, is true to your feelings for them and draws people into a celebration of their life.


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