12 Ideas for Funerals and Memorials When You Can’t Be Together
When a loved one dies, it’s natural for family and friends to want to come together to say goodbye and support each other. But often, due to distance or other circumstances, this isn’t possible. Rather than simply skip the funeral or memorial, you should instead try to find a way to connect with your friends and family remotely.
Saying goodbye in the presence of friends, family and loved ones is an important part of the grieving process. It can help to bring closure and allow you to share precious memories. And finally, it is a helpful reminder that you aren’t alone in the world, even if your distance makes you feel isolated.
How does a memorial help with grief?
A memorial is a tangible way to keep the memory of a loved one alive. It can be a place to visit and reflect or a physical reminder of their life and love. Or it can be an event for quiet reflection. For many people, it’s an important part of the grieving process.
The funeral is often the perfect time to say goodbye and find closure. It's also incredibly helpful to know that you are not alone in your grief. When you plan a memorial or funeral, you will see just how many people are affected by the death, which can help to remind you that there are other people who know exactly how you are feeling.
If you are unable to bring your family together for any reason, there are still ways you can host a memorial or funeral. Here are 12 ideas for ways to say goodbye and honour your loved one’s memory, even if you can't be together.
1. Schedule a time to ring bells or play music
If you can’t be together in person, you can still gather virtually to honour your loved one’s memory. Set a day and time when everyone can log onto a video call and simultaneously ring bells, play music or simply take a moment of silence.
This is a great way to feel connected to your loved ones, even if you are miles apart. Scheduling a memorial service in this way will enable individuals to feel included without putting pressure on them to travel. Some people still aren't comfortable travelling, so a simple gesture like ringing bells at the same time can be a perfect alternative.
2. Send flowers or plant trees
In many cultures, it is tradition to send flowers to the funeral of a loved one. If you can’t be there in person, consider sending flowers to the service or planting a tree in their memory. This is a beautiful way to show that they are always in your thoughts.
If you are unable to attend the funeral service in person, you should send flowers or you could make a donation instead. You could arrange with those who are grieving to plant a tree at the same time, creating a network of memorial trees around the world.
3. Share memories online
If you can’t be together in person, create an online space where family and friends can share memories and photos of the deceased. This could be a private Facebook group, an online forum or even just a shared Google doc.
This is a great way to keep everyone connected and ensure that precious memories are not forgotten. The internet can feel like an impersonal space, but sharing memories in this way can be incredibly touching.
4. Hold a virtual wake
Wakes are an important part of Irish and Catholic funerals, but they can be held for anyone who wants to pay their respects. If you can’t be together in person, hold a virtual wake via video call. This is a chance for people to share stories, say prayers and simply be there for one another. Following the pandemic, most people are accustomed to joining virtual events. You could include a live stream of the wake to enable people who cannot be there in person to feel present.
5. Watch a movie or read a book together
If you can’t be together in person, consider watching a movie or reading a book together online. This could be done via Skype or another video call service. You could even choose a movie or book that was significant to the deceased. This is a great way to feel connected to your loved ones, even if you are miles apart.
You could also arrange a kind of book club for the grieving. Everyone has to read your loved one’s favourite book and then you can arrange a time to discuss it. Connecting with something that your loved one was passionate about can help individuals to talk more freely about their feelings and process their grief.
6. Make a donation
Making a donation in lieu of flowers is a great way to honour your loved one’s memory. You could donate to their favourite charity or causes that were important to them. This is a meaningful way to keep their memory alive and help make the world a better place. Raising money for charity through events like running a marathon or climbing a mountain is another excellent way to honour a person's memory, even if you cannot be there in person.
7. Create a photo collage
If you can’t be together in person, consider creating a photo collage in honour of your loved one. This could be done online or you could mail it to family and friends. This is a great way to share memories and keep everyone connected. You could also create a photo exchange. Everyone can upload their photos online and then download those from other people that they don't have in their collection. They can then create their own photo collage at home.
8. Plant a garden
If you have some space, consider planting a garden in honour of your loved one. This could be done at your home or you could donate to a local park or community garden. This is a beautiful way to keep their memory alive and help make the world a little bit brighter. This will also give you a place where you can sit and remember your loved one when you are feeling lonely.
9. Make their favourite food
Taste and smell are some of the most powerful senses that are linked to memory, so it's a great way to remember those who have left us. One of the best ways to honour someone’s memory is by enjoying their favourite foods.
If you can’t be together in person, consider baking their favourite recipe and sending it to family and friends. This is a delicious way to keep their memory alive. Everyone can share a recipe that they know the deceased would have loved. This will allow you to connect with one another through the medium of food.
10. Send a care package
If you can’t be together in person, consider sending a care package to your loved ones. This could include things like photos, letters, mementoes or even just a handwritten note. This is a great way to let them know you are thinking of them and that you care. You could create a care package exchange, so everyone sends one care package and receives another in return.
11. Make a memory box
If you have mementoes or keepsakes that you can’t bear to part with, consider making a memory box. This could be a physical box that you keep at your home or an online album where you can share photos and memories. This is a great way to keep your loved one’s memory alive. You can share items in the post or email photos to one another to help build your memory boxes.
12. Light a candle
Lighting a candle is a beautiful way to honour your loved one’s memory. You could do this on your own or you could invite family and friends to light candles in their homes. This is a simple but powerful way to keep their memory alive.
You can attend church to light a candle, or you can do this in your own home. Make a time for everyone to light their candle so that you feel their presence, even if you are miles apart.
As you can see, you don't have to be in the same physical space to share emotional space. There are plenty of ways to honour your loved one and bring people together from anywhere in the world. Honouring a loved one’s memory doesn’t have to be difficult or complex.
There are plenty of ways for families and friends to come together, even when they are miles apart. Whether you choose to make a donation, plant a garden or light a candle, these gestures will help keep your loved one’s memory alive and support those who are struggling with their grief. It will help to remind you that you aren’t alone in your grief, no matter how far apart you are.