A funeral book is an integral part of my service as it is a memento, it can be part of the healing process, it lets family and friends overseas see the funeral and it is rich in its imagery.
Funeral books are not restricted to photos and can include eulogies, poems, family trees, favourite songs and photos of the loved one during their life.
Funeral books are 8″ x 8″ so they are small enough to fit in a hand bag.
Families can order additional copies of the book. One family ordered fourteen copies of the book to give to each great-grand child so they could remember their great-grandmother.
Funeral books as practical grief therapy
Selecting images for the funeral book gives a bereaving family a purpose. Choosing images from your loved one’s past and deciding which eulogies and tributes will go into the book are all part of being actively involved in the funeral book design and this activity can be very healing. It really is a practical form of grief therapy because it allows you to mull over the funeral. When overseas I met a fellow funeral photographer and was shocked to find out they didn’t involve the family in the book’s design. Somehow, that seemed wrong to me, that denial of grief therapy.
So often the actual day of the funeral goes by in a whirl and there is no time for reflection.
One woman said she had only just got around to looking at the funeral photo book months after the funeral because she hadn’t felt strong enough to look at it. She said it was wonderful to see what had actually gone on during the actual service and wake and how precious the book was for her.
Bringing families together
One family member told me the funeral photo book had helped heal the rift between the extended family; the simple process of having the two families in the one book had an impact and began the slow process of encouraging communication. All the family had taken ownership of the book and, in doing so, had made it part of their healing process.
What can a funeral book contain?
Once a widow asked to if she could include an image of her husband and friends a year before he died.
I welcomed her suggestion as I want families to understand it is their book. You can put in whatever images you want. If there is a photo of your loved one from their youth, or a place they loved visiting, all these can be included and add to the book’s rich texture.
Funeral book themes
Funerals have so many roles. They can be about supporting the widower or consoling the widow or they can be about reuniting families or preserving memories. Sometimes they are about the formal transfer of responsibility from the dead father to the eldest son. Sometimes they are nothing but bewilderment especially when the deceased is young. Sometimes they are about celebrating a long lived live. They can also be about a widow honouring her husband or they can be about a community wanting to pay its respects. Sometimes they are about expressing communal sorrow.
Just as no two funerals are alike, each funeral book I design is unique. It will have themes and sub-themes. For example, the main theme maybe about siblings in their mid-forties supporting each other whilst a sub-theme may be their children being concerned for their parents.
My funeral books will reflect the funeral’s theme. After photographing and then enhancing the images, themes emerge which I then use to guide the selection of images. This ensures the narrative of the funeral book flows without anything discordant.