Should There Be Photos At The Finish?

Dear Funeral Director:

I’d like to ask about the photographs that families bring in to wakes – not only photos used to make picture boards or in frames, but the photos used to create slideshows or play DVDs that loop on screens in the funeral home. I know it’s the personal choice of the family, but I think this is kind of over the top and not appropriate when you’re mourning a loved one… what is your take on this?


Michelle G.
Stamford, CT

Dear Michelle,

My feeling is that you hit the nail on the head when you wrote “it’s the personal choice of the family”. Some folks feel the more photos and personalization the better and some see it as you do… and both would be making that decision based upon what they feel is right for their loved one.

As a funeral director, I strive to help families arrange services that are uniquely meaningful to them. I find that videos and photos, and other forms of personalization, have the power to help families begin the healing process and gives them the opportunity to celebrate the life that was lived.

I’m sure that many of you have seen the beautiful memories and stories that a photo can trigger from grieving family members or have witnessed the power of a memorial video that was playing at a wake. But these tributes aren’t just a sales-driven gimmicks that funeral directors add-on to a family’s service… they actually have proven healing power for people who are grieving and here are five reasons why…

1. Gathering Photos Can Jump Start Healing – Many families are often hesitant to jump right into gathering photos and videos of their loved one right after they have passed, because they are
nervous that it may unlock even more difficult feelings or emotions. But when your families look at photos and videos of the people they love, it can actually make them feel better, as they’re able to reminisce and look back fondly on the memories shared.

2. Families Can Learn More About Their Loved Ones – One of the best ways for your families to discover just how big of an impact their loved one had made is through seeing images and hearing stories that they may not have known before. Playing a tribute video at the visitation is a great trigger for bringing out new memories from friends and family. The funny stories that can come out of a childhood photo or home movie can open up a whole new window of memories and can make people realize just how big of an influence their loved one’s life had on those around them.

3. Sharing Funny Memories Leads To Healthier Healing – When people come into a funeral home for a service or memorial, they often try to avoid laughing at all costs, they just don’t think it’s appropriate. But one of the most beneficial and healing gifts that a family can receive during a time of loss is a lighthearted, funny story about their loved one.

4. Social Tributes Create A Sense Of Community For The Grieving – The healing power of photos and videos should reach beyond the funeral home. Families are encouraged to share the powerful photos and videos with the wider community and may help family and friends engage in a publicly shared healing experience in the privacy of their own home.

5. The Ritual Of Watching Can Lessen Grief – One of the most powerful aspects of memorial photos and videos is that families can take the emotions and stories with them long after the funeral has ended. That way, when they want to celebrate their loved one and feel close to them again, they can simply browse through the photos or pop in the video and connect with the stories and memories all over again. These videos can become a great visual tradition for important holidays, events and anniversaries, or at times when families want to feel especially close to their loved ones.

Thanks much for sending in your question.

Leonard W. Santora, LFD

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Website Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: