How to honor someone special in your life by writing a tribute
Has your life been significantly changed by a family member, friend, teacher, or mentor? Consider how you can use your talent and passion for writing to create a tribute. The gift of words is a one-of-a-kind present that can’t be purchased at any store and has lasting value that goes beyond any material object.
Tributes can mark a special event or be a gift for a birthday, retirement party, or anniversary. Eulogies praise a person after they’ve passed on, but some of the best gifts of words are ones you can share with the person they honor while they’re still alive. One of my uncles always said he didn’t want a funeral. If anyone had anything to say about him, he preferred they say it before he died. So when his health began to fail, we threw him a party and told him what he meant to us.
Try these techniques to generate ideas:
1. Think of specific examples of when this person was there for you or did something that made your life better. The more you write, the more you’ll remember. Relax and write without thinking too hard. Don’t edit or worry about punctuation or grammar. Just put your thoughts on the page.
2. Expand your writing to describe the impact, how you changed because of this person, and why it mattered.
3. Write as many memories as possible. Think of funny moments, sad moments, and the bittersweet. You can always select the ones with the most impact.
4. Freewrite a list of words that describe the person you’re honoring. One way to then start your tribute is to pick the best word and begin like this: “When I think of the word ________, I think of Uncle Johnny.”
Once you’ve generated ideas and memories, think of a structure. You could write it in the form of a letter, as prose with photos, or you may find it works best as a poem. Like any writing project, let it sit for awhile after you write the first draft. Check it’s pulse for sensory impact. Read it aloud. Refine.