Ways to remember someone who didn’t want a funeral

Funerals can provide closure and comfort for grieving friends and family. So what do you do when your loved one has requested to not have one?
Ways to remember someone who didn’t want a funeral

There are a few reasons why there might not be a funeral for your deceased loved one; maybe they requested to not have one (stipulated in their Will), or  maybe they were never able to have one with more than 5 people in attendance (thanks, COVID) and so you simply missed out on an invitation.

Regardless of why your loved one didn’t have a funeral (or didn’t have a funeral you could attend), there are a myriad of ways you can remember them, grieve them and celebrate them, sans a formal funeral.

In this guide, we’ll take you through some of the most popular ways to remember someone who didn’t have (or want) a funeral.

Host a memorial service at your home, or at a place they loved.

Invite their friends (or family, or both) into your home or to a restaurant, cafe, bar, park or beach they loved, and host an afternoon filled with good food and storytelling.

You could ask all guests to write their favourite memories and stories down and share them with the whole table, share slideshow presentations, memorial videos and photos of the deceased to reflect on their life, and you could even invite some of their family members, friends or colleagues to say a few words about them.

An afternoon like this one is completely customisable, and you can have fun while planning it! Think of interactive activities and ways of sharing stories that your guests will likely feel comfortable participating in, and then enjoy a wholesome day with everyone your loved one adored.

Create a memory book

If you’re a lover of memory collection, photos and storytelling, it can be nice to create a photo or memory book of your loved one.

Collate images of them (from their childhood until they passed) with their loved ones (and with you!) and annotate the photos, sharing stories and memories you’ll never want to forget. This can be a great way to not only remember and reflect on the life of your loved one, but to ensure they’re remembered for generations to come.

Create a regular ritual to remember them

If planning an event or memorial for your loved one feels like a task for the too-hard basket, you might want to consider creating a ritual their loved ones can get involved with every month or year.

Did the deceased love bike riding? Maybe they loved strawberry picking every summer? Set up an event – or encourage others to add the activity to their own calendar on a day that suits them – and complete something they loved, in their honour.

Volunteer for an organisation that meant a lot to them

Whether your loved one passed away from an illness (physical or mental) or from old age, there’s likely an organisation that feels relevant or is relevant to them. We’d recommend doing a quick Google search to find charities, social enterprises and NFPs most suited to your loved one, their condition, and the things they were most passionate about, and making the time to volunteer or donate to them. You could also send the organisation’s details around to other loved ones and encourage them to join you when volunteering – the more the merrier.

Honour their wishes. All of them (well, kinda)

Your loved one likely had some final wishes they wanted you to honour after their passing – some of these might’ve been stipulated in their Will, while others might've been a little less serious like, “Make sure you try the monthly special next month at XYZ Cafe. I’d been waiting for them to add it to the menu”.

Once a person has died, it can feel a little unnecessary to honour some of their last wishes, especially if they weren’t the make-or-break kind. However, honouring their wants – no matter how random – can be a meaningful way to say goodbye, connect with them one last time, and feel content in knowing you’re doing exactly what they wished for.

Wrap up

Not having a funeral to go to for a deceased loved one can feel hard, because we often feel like we can’t say a ‘proper’ goodbye without the funeral tradition we’ve grown so used to as a society. The good news is that you don’t have to attend a funeral to ‘properly’ send a loved one off – you can find meaningful ways to honour them and remember them sans the whole burial and memorial schtick.

Have you made your wishes known? A Will is the perfect way to ensure your funeral plans (or desire to not have one at all) are organised according to your wishes. You can write yours today in just 15 minutes.

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