Creating Keepsake Bereavement Boxes to Preserve Memories

Updated September 22, 2020
woman opening bereavement box

Bereavement boxes are one of the ways the living can cope with their grief by collecting and keeping their loved one's momentos in a special place. When a loved one dies, there are memories to be kept. In a bereavement box, precious memories can be kept safe and in one location for easy viewing.

About What Bereavement Boxes Look Like

These boxes are usually made of wood and are hand-painted. They open at the top with a hinged door. The inside of the box is a dry and safe place to keep the important items you hold dear from your deceased loved one. Boxes can be as unique as the person who died. Some are elaborate with etchings or carvings. Some have the name of the deceased and their birth date and death date on them.

Items to Keep in Bereavement Boxes

When your loved one dies, he or she leaves everything behind. While some items you may want to give to charity or family members, there are other possessions you will want to keep to look upon and remember the anniversary of their death. Some of these which you can place in bereavement boxes include:

  • Favorite shirt or tie
  • Letters, or penned poems
  • Favorite books
  • Jewelry
  • Photos
  • Awards or certificates
  • Journals
  • News articles featuring the deceased
  • Medals or pendants
  • Other memorabilia
  • Any medical information regarding his or her death

When an Infant Dies

When an infant passes away, you should consider putting the following into the box:

  • Hospital receiving blanket
  • Hospital wristband
  • First photo
  • Information on weight and length
  • Special gift, such as a stuffed animal or plaque
  • Baptismal, christening, or other religious certificates

When a Child Dies

Legacy of Love Bereavement Keepsake Box

When a child dies, a bereavement box will need to hold room for a number of items including:

  • Favorite blanket
  • Special stuffed animal or toy
  • Books
  • Lock of hair
  • Tooth that was lost
  • Other valuables that were meaningful to the child

Parents will find that keeping a box with the memories is therapeutic and healing.

When a Spouse or Life Partner Dies

When a spouse passes away, include:

  • Photos from first date/dating period
  • Engagement photograph
  • Wedding photograph
  • Important life milestone dates, such as children's birth with photographs
  • Vacation and hobby memorabilia
  • Tickets from important concerts, festivals, museums, or other events that were important to your spouse
  • Anniversary cards

When a Mother Dies

cottage garden a mother's love bereavement memory rich woodgrain finish jewelry music box - plays song amazing grace

If your mother dies, your bereavement box might contain:

  • Photographs of her throughout her lifetime
  • Photographs of you with your mother
  • Special gifts your mother gave you or that you gave your mother
  • Your mother's favorite flower, pressed and dried
  • Empty bottle of your mother's perfume
  • Your mother's favorite song lyrics

When a Father Dies

When your father dies, consider putting the following into a bereavement box:

  • Photographs from his lifetime
  • Photographs of the two of you together
  • A hammer, fishing lure, camping compass, or other item that relates back to his favorite hobby
  • Ball cap, glove, team jersey or favorite sports memorabilia
  • Something you gave him or he gave you, such as a card, key chain, or other special gift

When a Grandparent Dies

Grandparents hold a special place in their grandchildren's hearts. In a bereavement box, put:

  • Embroidered handkerchief
  • Figurine or other special memento from their home
  • Keepsake jewelry
  • "Famous" recipe for cookies, cake, or other special dish
  • Quote or other saying your grandma or grandpa had
  • Photographs of the two of you together

When a Pet Dies

Animal Paw Print Bereavement Box Ceramic Furever Loved Dog Cat Pet

Mourning the loss of a pet is something many owners do when their beloved companion moves on. Whether you had a dog, cat, snake, ferret, mouse, or other pet, you might find keeping a memory bereavement box helpful in your coping process. Include:

  • Photo of the pet on the day you brought him home
  • Recent photo of the pet
  • Collar and/or tags (if applicable)
  • Favorite treat or image of favorite treat
  • A toy or two
  • Verses of a comforting poem about the loss of your pet

Simple Ideas for Creating the Perfect Bereavement Box

Deciding which box to purchase to store your loved one's special items is a decision that might take some time. First, you need to consider the amount of things you wish to store inside the box. Are there many keepsakes or only a few? This will help you choose a small, medium or large box. Next, think about where the box will be kept. Do you have ample room in your house for it? If your space is small, perhaps a little box will be best, one that can rest on a bookshelf or end table. Larger boxes can be two or three feet tall and just as wide.

Create a Shadow Box

If you want to buy a shadowbox to place sentimental items, such as an award or medal, or even a copy of the obituary, that is also a touching way to preserve the memories. Print your favorite photograph to line the back of the box. Make sure his/her face will be clearly visible. Add items and memorabilia around the focus point, using pins or glue to affix things as desired.

Use a Wooden Jewelry Box

Cottage Garden Bereavement Forever Heart Music Jewelry Box How Great Thou Art

Purchase a simple wooden jewelry box that has a top-close lid. Remove the liner with the areas for keeping rings, necklaces, and earrings separate. Replace with a felt or velvet liner. Place items inside.

Repurpose a Tool Box

A basic metallic tool box can be repurposed into a bereavement box. Spray paint the box in whatever color you deem appropriate. Black, gray, white, or your deceased loved one's favorite colors are good options. You can stencil a design onto the top and sides, too. If you have a lot of items, keep the trays inside the tool box to separate them. Otherwise, remove the trays and place items carefully into the box.

Purchase Memory Bereavement Boxes Online

Visit websites to purchase boxes if you don't want to create one yourself:

  • Remember Me Gifts sells wooden boxes that are personalized for the family member you lost. They cost about $55 and some come with painted designs, like flowers or angel wings, too.
  • White Confetti Box sells a lovely white box that is personalized with the deceased's name. Select from garden, alphabet or simple designs in various colors. It costs about $16 and you can add crinkle paper for a small additional fee.
  • Heart to Heart Sympathy Gifts sells traditional wooden and metal bereavement boxes and musical memory boxes. They range from having a spot for a photo to including rhinestones/gems to background images. Pricing ranges from around $38 to $52. Some have engraving options.
  • Personalization Mall sells several types of memory bereavement boxes. Look for cross-shaped ones or ones for beloved pets among their other options, all of which can be personalized. The bereavement boxes are among their other memory boxes, so make sure you select the right option. They cost between $22 to around $50, depending on your final selection.

Other Places to Store Memorabilia

Keep in mind that if you have certain objects, you may want to display them in a glass case. For example, if your loved one was a serviceman or woman, an American flag given in his honor at his funeral, could be showcased in a display box. As you look around in stores and online, you will find the perfect bereavement box to suit your needs. If a friend asks what you would like for a bereavement gift after your loved one has passed, you could suggest a decorative box for keeping memorabilia. Your funeral home may also have products you can use to store some of the valuables and treasures of your loved one.

Creating Keepsake Bereavement Boxes to Preserve Memories