Why Are Mementos So Important for the Grieving Process?


Mementos, or physical reminders of a person who has died, have been used for thousands of years to assist the grieving process and provide a permanent totem that allows the memory of a person to persist indefinitely.

But what is it about mementos that makes them so valuable for the grieving process? And how do you choose the right one?

Types of Mementos


According to In the Light Urns, mementos can be a highly creative exercise. While there are some traditional forms that mementos often take, almost anything can be a memento – and you can create a memento from scratch that meets your needs, whatever those happen to be.

Some common examples of mementos include:

  • Cremation urns. If you have a loved one cremated, a cremation urn could be the perfect way to house the ashes and permanently remember them. These days, you can create custom cremation urns with totally unique designs – or choose something more traditional and modest. Either way, you can get something that’s a perfect fit for your loved one’s personality.
  • Jewelry. Cremation jewelry has also become popular. These pieces of jewelry can be made from a wide variety of different materials and can serve as different types of accessories, such as earrings or necklaces. Often, these pieces of jewelry can house small amounts of ashes, photographs, or other personal effects.
  • Photographs. Photographs and elaborate displays for those photographs are also common mementos. There’s arguably no better way to recall memories with a person than to see an image of their face.
  • Sculptures. 3D sculptures are increasingly common mementos as well, especially with 3D printing becoming more accessible and more popular. With today’s modeling technology, you can create almost any sculpture you can imagine.
  • Personal items. People also frequently create mementos out of personal items that belonged to the deceased. There are no rules or guidelines for what can and can’t be a memento, so it’s totally up to you. You can create a memento from a piece of art they created, a piece of jewelry they always wore, or a piece from a collection they were passionate about. The sky’s the limit.

Why Are Mementos So Important for the Grieving Process?


Why are mementos so important for the grieving process?

  • A permanent reminder. Mementos serve as permanent reminders of the person who passed away. If this person was important to you, you’ll never really forget them, but over time, you may think of them less frequently or less intensively. Having a memento on your shelf means you’ll always be reminded of their presence.
  • A sense of finality. For some people, a memento can generate a sense of finality. If you have a loved one who always wore a specific necklace, having that necklace in your possession can be a bittersweet reminder that they’re no longer here, providing you with a sense of closure and, hopefully, peace.
  • Memory formation and nostalgia. Mementos have an uncanny ability to conjure feelings of nostalgia. Obviously, you can feel nostalgia from almost any kind of trigger, but the visual trigger from a memento can be especially powerful. When you first create or receive the memento, you’ll likely feel your brain flooded with memories of the loved one who passed. From then on, every time you see or think about the memento, you’ll feel a sense of nostalgia – and you’ll feel ethereally connected to your loved one.
  • Artistry and display. Some people appreciate mementos because it’s an opportunity to demonstrate artistry or creativity. If you’re creating a custom memento from scratch, you can choose something that perfectly fits this person’s interests and personality – and you can inject a bit of your own personality as well. Once finished, many mementos serve as beautiful artistic displays that can beautify and add depth to your home.
  • Tangible interactive potential. Mementos are valuable for the grieving process because they also serve as tangible, interactive units. You can hold mementos in your hand. Sometimes, you can wear them. You can hug them or talk to them if you’d like. For some people, this is incredibly comforting, and it’s the next best thing to holding or talking to the person themselves.
  • Family heirlooms. In some cases, mementos can also turn into family heirlooms, passed down to future generations. It’s one way to make sure your ancestors are never forgotten.

Tips for Choosing the Right Memento

Choosing the right memento can be difficult, especially with so many options available. How do you choose something that captures the spirit of your recently deceased loved one while also creating something unique that can last for generations?

  • Go custom. There’s nothing inherently wrong with choosing something traditional off the shelf. But if you want something truly unique, you should consider customizing it from scratch. This way, you’ll be able to get something perfectly suited to the individual and perfectly in line with your tastes.
  • Ask: what symbolizes this person in your mind? Is there anything that symbolizes this person in your mind? When you think of them, what do you see? What types of things do they wear? What types of activities do they love?
  • Remember your favorite memories. What are some of your favorite memories with this person? How would you symbolize or encapsulate those memories? Is there a place where you spent a lot of time together, or a hobby you both obsessed over? This can sometimes point you in the right direction.
  • Shop around. The choices are almost overwhelming, so spend some time shopping around and talking to people in the memorial services industry. It will help you generate more ideas and narrow down your interests.

For more than 2,000 years, human beings have been keeping mementos of loved ones – and because of all these powerful effects, we’ll likely be keeping them for another 2,000 years or longer.

With so many types of mementos to choose from and so many different display methods, you can likely find the perfect memento for your loved one.

Written by Kan Dail