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Losing a loved one, although an unavoidable part of life, is always hard. On top of dealing with your own emotions during this event, you also have to find a way to endure the tasks of planning a funeral or memorial service, and tolerate being contacted by friends and family with whom your relationships range from varying degrees of intimacy. One way to feel comforted at a time like this is to supply a guestbook for those who attend the ceremony. A funeral or memorial guestbook is a registry for your friends and family to sign, sharing their condolences, memories, and well-wishes during the visitation. Reading the names and notes your loved ones left will be a great source of comfort for you and your family; your guest book will become a cherished keepsake for years to come. If you’re feeling stressed or nervous about other aspects of funeral planning, refer to the list below to find tips that will help you get through this difficult time.
1. Obituary: If working with a funeral home, the funeral director will assist you in the publication of an obituary, either online or in your local newspaper. Be sure to personally notify family and close friends as soon as possible, that way if travel arrangements must be made, it will be less expensive and alleviate stress. For the obituary, it will be up to you to decide on and provide which photos of the deceased will be shown, as well as which life details will be mentioned. This is also your opportunity to reveal the service as either private or public.
2. Donations: If you prefer monetary donations “in lieu of gifts,” mention this in the obituary. It is completely acceptable to ask for donations rather than gifts – pick an organization or charity that relates to the deceased or has special meaning to your family. Also know that well-meaning friends or family may want to contribute financially directly to you. Accepting this contribution is a personal decision – do what you feel comfortable with; either way, be sure to accept or decline graciously. In the end, no matter the gift, be sure to respond with a thank you card.
3. Attendance: As the bereaved, it is up to you to decide on either a public or private service. Take into account the deceased’s wishes, and their notoriety in the community. Depending on your faith, you may ask your pastor, rabbi, or priest to assist in planning the funeral or memorial and to deliver the eulogy at the ceremony. Alternately, if you’re not affiliated with a congregation, the funeral director can also read the speech, especially if you feel as though a family member or friend may not be able to maintain composure while doing so. Another consideration to make is whether or not young children may be attending. If so, it is important to explain as much as you can to them about the situation in advance – the more they know going in, the less likely they will be to accidentally disrupt the service or get upset by others’ grieving.
As mentioned above, losing a loved one is never easy, but a unique guest book, representing their personality and interests, will become a meaningful memento and a reminder of all those in your life who love you.

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