Honoring the Memory of a Schoolmate


“Did you hear that Dorothy passed away last week?”

“Oh, no! I heard she’d been ill for a while. I am so sorry to hear that. I’d been hoping that she might be able to make it to the reunion…”

It’s inevitable that your class will start to lose members as time goes by. Understanding this fact of life doesn’t make it any easier to accept. But taking the time to memorialize people who have passed away can be cathartic for those who are left behind. Even if you weren’t particularly close, an act of remembrance can bring the class together and also allows everyone to grieve in their own way.

If you’ve got a reunion coming up, there are a variety of special things that you and your fellow alumni can do to remember your class members and to keep their spirits alive. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Set up a table with photos of those who have passed, along with a candle for each person. Have people add notes of remembrance to display with the photos. At the end of the event, collect the memories, and send them on to loved ones.
  • Display a slide show with photos collected from yearbooks and from friends and family.
  • Take up a collection at the reunion, and send a care package and/or flowers to the family of the deceased, from your class.
  • Start a scholarship fund in the person’s name, and announce it at the reunion.
  • Plant a tree, or create some sort of permanent memorial in the name(s) of the deceased. Hold a dedication ceremony at the reunion.

The Classmates website also has a Memorials space, created for members to honor those from their school’s community. If you’re a Classmates member, we hope that you’ll take a moment to share the names of any schoolmates who have passed on and, if you are inclined, a memory or two. A few suggestions for ways to personalize this space:

  • Compose a short bio, mentioning any activities in which your schoolmate was involved, favorite music, information about post-school life, etc.
  • Share photos from friends and family.
  • Write a few kind words about your schoolmate – what you liked best, how you remember them, how they made you happy.
  • Share stories – both the serious ones and the funny ones.
  • Share excerpts from things your schoolmate wrote – stories, poems, even sentiments written to you.

Celebrate the lives of those you remember, in your own unique way.


Do you have a favorite ritual for honoring the lives of loved ones?