Defining Tribute

Tributes are about LIFE. They represent the glue of togetherness, the invisible adhesive quality of “family,” of “friends,” of “community.”  Tributes honor the momentous cycles of life that we have the opportunity to celebrate. They are for rites of passage; for births, confirmations, bar/bat/bark mitzvahs, graduations, weddings, anniversaries, roasts, reunions, retirement, new beginnings, and soul transitions. That’s why MADDY BANKS’ signature on her Dear Maddy advice column reads “To Life, Maddy.” Maddy is the voice of celebration, the voice of participation that leads to transformation. She encourages everyone to celebrate the lives of our loved ones by honoring their essence through the gift of personal expression.

I’m Maddy’s mother, or rather, her creator. Maddy came into existence as the protagonist of a comedy of trilogy novels I wrote called THE FUNERAL PLANNER. The novels have been adapted into a video on demand series featuring Joss Stone (who lights up the screen, by the way). They are also in-the-process of becoming a movie with the director of Miss Congeniality, Mystic Pizza, and How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days. And more… which I won’t go into now. Suffice to say that through all of these media-related births, I’ve become… Maddy Banks. Yes, that’s right. I’ve taken on the persona of my character, or maybe she’s taken on mine. In any event, I’ve been hailed as an expert on the meaning of Life Celebrations and Tributes.

So… with respect to “tributes,” the first thing I’d like to point out, or rather ask is when did “tributes” become all about the dead? It seems there’s this death-related connotation associated with the word. Yet, when Googling the word “tribute” I am realigned with its origins; which happens to mean “something given or done as an expression of esteem” or “a gift, payment, declaration or other acknowledgment of gratitude, respect, or admiration.” I don’t see death in there, do you?  Personally, I prefer the first quote. There’s something lyrical and poetic in “something given or done as an expression of esteem.” And Shutterfly’s tribute solutions offer beautiful and heartfelt ways to see the loving essence in anothers soul and to create a personalized tribute to do just that.

It is the process of creating a Shutterfly tribute photo book itself that is magical, for when we capture and share that special moment inside an image we experience the gift of alignment with that which is greater than ourselves. Creating a Shutterfly tribute photo book takes us into that space, and I can’t think of a better place to be. So to be clear before launching into a series of articles on tributes, remember that a tribute is all encompassing and can be an expression of esteem for all of life’s cycles, whether the participants are alive and well, alive and not-so-well, or alive-in-spirit. To Life, Lynn a.k.a. Maddy.

By Author-Brand Strategist & Tribute Expert Lynn Isenberg, “The Funeral Planner” trilogy book series and digital series featuring Joss Stone, and founder of

The Tribute Network announces the first annual online Tribute Video Festival commencing June 1 – December 1, 2011. Visit to honor significant people and pets in our lives by sharing a short tribute video about a person or pet, alive or in spirit, who has made a contribution to your life. Learn more on May 8th when the Tribute Video Festival’s Hollywood Jury reveals more on the “Jackson Horn” reunion show on most Fox Network affiliates across the country. The Tribute Video Festival PSA is brought to you by the Wilbert Foundation, a non-profit organization providing grants and resources to help children deal with trauma and grief.

Lynn’s books and digital videos:

The Funeral Planner
The Funeral Planner Goes To Washington
The Funeral Planner Digital Series
Grief Tributes
Grief Wellness


  1. Joey says

    This is a great article Lynn and makes one think about the true meaning of tribute. It can be used in all areas; like you stated. My uncle passed away March of 2009 and I made my aunt a book of his life. I didn’t have all the pictures I wanted, but I got most and had wanted to do this when we knew he was becoming more ill. As I finished the book, I had my dad review it. On the cover i had a photo of my uncle and I wrote: A tribute of the life of Daniel J Tehle. My dad kind of pondered over that and said “I think it should say ‘A celebration of…..’ and he had said exactly what you wrote above and in your description under your name. It makes sense. We want to celebrate the life our loved ones, the life they had while they were here.
    I have seen the Shutterfly Tribute (Creating Keepsake) Books where people make them as a tribute for those who have achieved a degree, or survived Breast Cancer, I’ve seen these books made just honoring their parents that are still alive etc.
    Great article.

  2. says

    Tribute…is such a big word of celebration of accomplishment in life. But why does it have to mean all of the accomplishments boxed up in a photobook after our hero is passed on. Celebrate today with those who are still with us…small moments make big tributes of those we love and count on.

  3. angies5 says

    Wow! I have gotten a whole new take on this from your article. Thanks! How honored a person would feel to be given a tribute. I think a Shutterfly book is the perfect way to do it too.

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