The Best Ways to Honor Loved Ones Other Than Funerals
Published May 24, 2022.
You may be doing your own end-of-life planning, or you could be looking for ways to memorialize a loved one. You may also be debating if a funeral is the right option. In most cultures and traditions, having a funeral when you pass away is the norm. However, some people prefer the idea of not having a funeral.
If this is the case for you, you may also be wondering what other options are available if you choose not to have a traditional funeral. The good news is that it is perfectly acceptable not to have a funeral. It is entirely up to you or the deceased's family on how to proceed with the memorial process.
What Is a Memorial Service?
A memorial service is similar to a traditional funeral in many ways. However, the main difference is that at a funeral, the body of the deceased is present and serves as a focal point for the service. At a memorial service, the body is not present, and usually, an urn or a framed portrait serves as the focal point. A memorial service generally takes place after the body has been buried or cremated and can occur anytime after death, depending on the family's wishes.
Memorial services can also be held anywhere. Many people choose a location with personal significance to the deceased, like their favorite beach, park, or family home. Another difference between memorial services and funerals is that a memorial service has no formal structure and is more casual. People can decide to participate (or not) in different ways, including sharing stories of the person who died, reading poems, or delivering readings and prayers.
Below are some of the many types of memorials that offer unique alternatives to funerals.
Alternatives to Funerals to Honor Loved Ones
When it comes to honoring your loved one, all you need are some friends and family gathered to celebrate their life. It can be as traditional or nontraditional as you would like. Here are seven funeral alternatives to honor your loved one.
- A meal at a favorite restaurant or bar A funeral alternative could be as simple as inviting family and friends to one of the deceased's favorite venues. Book a large table or even the whole venue, eat a meal, share stories and memories, and have a toast to celebrate their life.
- Serve the community to honor your loved one If your loved one was known for their charity, honor them in a way that gives back to the community. Have a memorial session where everyone cleans up a beach, donates blood, or cooks meals to feed the homeless.
- Celebration of life party Celebration of life parties are becoming more popular. They are like a memorial service but more casual and celebratory. A celebration of life party could involve hiring a nontraditional venue where loved ones gather to listen to music the deceased person loved, eat and drink, dress up around a theme, or release paper lanterns in their honor.
- Movie night memorial If your loved one had a favorite movie or a movie that reflects their life, hold a movie night for friends and family. You could book out a cinema, a local hall or have it at home using a projector. Have an open mic at the end where people can share fond memories.
- Memorial tree ceremony A further memorial service idea is holding a memorial tree ceremony. This tree planting ceremony may be the perfect option to honor a loved one who loved gardening or nature and the outdoors. A tree planting memorial typically involves the deceased's cremains, a biodegradable urn, and a young tree of choice. A memory tree provides a special place for family and friends to visit, so they can keep their beloved's memory alive.
Unique Ways to Scatter Ashes After Cremation
Here are five creative ways to scatter ashes after cremation.
- Sea scattering The ashes can be placed into a biodegradable urn and set onto the water to float away. In time, the eco-urn will dissolve, scattering the ashes at sea.
- National or memorial park Ashes can be scattered or buried in memorial or national parks (depending on legalities) in a green cremation ceremony and are a great way to lay your loved one to rest in a place they enjoyed visiting.
- Fireworks Certain companies provide a service where your loved one's ashes are made into fireworks. This beautiful and memorable display is a great way to send your loved one off with a bang.
- A trip around the world If your loved one was a travel enthusiast or there was a place they always wanted to visit, you could plan a trip around the world to scatter their ashes and honor their life. When flying with cremated ashes, you will have to consider a few important factors, like having the correct documentation and an appropriate urn for travel and airports.
- At home If you want to scatter the ashes of your deceased loved one but still keep them close, you can create a memorial place in the corner of the garden where you scatter or bury the ashes and put up a water feature or bench or even plant a tree.
Holding a traditional funeral may not feel right to you, and that's okay. Whether the choice not to have a funeral is because cremation is more affordable or the reasons are personal, there are many funeral alternatives that you can choose from to honor your loved one's life.