What to Write in a Funeral Guest Book

Posted on May 17, 2021 by Bevis Funeral Home under Funeral Etiquette, Funeral Services, Funeral Trends
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It can be difficult to find the right words to write in the guest book at a funeral.

Weddings and graduations are easier – you can write a simple note of joy and congratulations. When you’re writing a note to someone who is grieving, however, it’s much harder to find the right words to say. It can feel like you’re walking on eggshells to avoid saying something inappropriate or upsetting.

If you’re struggling to find the words to write in the guest book at a funeral, it’s important to remember why the guest book is there in the first place.

What’s a Guest Book?

A guest book, sometimes referred to as a registry book, is an important element of most memorial or funeral services. It serves two main purposes: to inform the grieving family of your attendance, and to offer words of comfort.

Depending on the size of the funeral service, the grieving family likely won’t have time to speak with everyone in attendance. The day may go by as a bit of a blur, and they might not remember every interaction. When you sign the guest book, you are letting the grieving family know you are there to support them.

Along those same lines, messages in a funeral guest book are designed to bring comfort to those who just lost their loved one. Many guest books have a designated place to share a short story or memory of the deceased. The family will be able to treasure the book – and those memories – for years to come.

Types of Guest Books

Over the years, a variety of funeral guest book styles have emerged. Here are a few of the most popular.


A traditional guest book looks similar to a scrapbook or photo album. It contains lined paper for family and friends to sign their names and possibly, but not always, a short note of condolence.


Some people prefer more extensive and personalized guest books. These books have spaces for photos, messages to the family, sharing memories and more.


Just as wedding guest books have become more individualized in recent years, unique funeral guest books have likewise become popular. These “books” can take many forms. Popular options include signing a picture frame, slips of paper in a memory jar and memorial stones that will fill a basket, vase or other container.


It’s no surprise that many guest books have moved online, particularly due to safety precautions amidst COVID-19. These are also a great option for long-distance family and friends who cannot attend the funeral service in person. Many people choose to have an online guest book in addition to a physical one.

If it is a large service, you may notice that two or more guest books are available, but, as a guest, you only need to sign one. Multiple books are provided to guarantee ample space for everyone who wishes to sign.

Finding the Right Words

If you’re signing a traditional guest book, it’s only necessary to sign your name. If you aren’t close with the family of the deceased or you are unacquainted with them entirely, it’s good etiquette to also briefly note your connection to the deceased. For instance, you could put the name of your shared church or workplace in parentheses after your signature.

If you are signing a more personalized guest book, you may have an opportunity to write a short message. The type of message you write will depend on your relationship to the deceased and the style of the guest book. It’s a good idea to think about what you’d like to say in advance so you don’t feel pressure to write quickly on the spot. Keep it short and sweet, as there will probably be a line and you don’t want to keep others waiting for too long.

If you were not acquainted with the deceased at all, do not panic. It is appropriate to express your condolences and write something along the lines of “I wish I could have had the opportunity to get to know him or her,” or “This was a beautiful service.

Don’t Overthink It

Whatever you write in a funeral guest book, remember that the idea is to comfort those who are grieving. Instead of worrying about saying the “wrong” thing, focus on the fact that your words, whatever they may be, will bring solace in an incredibly difficult time.

Gathering with friends and family for a funeral service gives everyone the opportunity to share memories, express emotions and find comforting support. Bevis Funeral Home can help you create a unique meaningful ceremony to express the genuine individuality of your loved one. Give us a call today at 850-385-2193 to speak to a knowledgeable funeral director or click here to learn more.

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