Losing someone you love is one of the hardest experiences in life, and you may feel compelled to do something meaningful to celebrate the life of the person who has died. There are many ways you can make a funeral or memorial service a personal occasion that genuinely speaks to who the person was in life and the difference your loved one made for you and others. There are also ways to celebrate your loved one creatively after the funeral.
Here are seven unique ways you can honor someone you’ve lost.
Include a favorite song or poem in the memorial service
The music for a funeral or memorial service doesn’t have to consist of just hymns, and it doesn’t have to be sad. You can use any style of music, including heavy metal if that’s what reminds you of the person you love. If your loved one had a favorite song in life, find someone willing to sing that song at the memorial service. If it’s an upbeat, happy song, let people dance. Ask yourself if the person would get joy from seeing friends and family celebrating life.
If the person had a favorite story or poem in life, consider having someone read it out loud. Print copies for everyone who attends.
Plant a tree or memorial garden
New life is a beautiful way of remembering someone who has died. It is a way of keeping the person alive in spirit. When you plant a tree dedicated to someone you love, you will be able to show it to future generations and share memories of the person.
In addition to planting a tree, you can go a step further and create a memorial garden. You could place a garden like this in your yard or at a church or even a park with permission. Plant a tree and some flowers, and fill in space with decorative rocks. Include a bench for meditation and a stone with the person’s name.
Make the memorial service more personal by sharing memories.
Memorial services often involve inviting people to stand up and talk about the person who is deceased. Some people might feel uncomfortable speaking in front of the group or overcome with grief. Instead of asking each person to talk, ask everyone to write down a special memory about the person. You could include open-ended questions if you think some will not know to begin.
Put these memories into a book and make copies for close friends and family. You could also type up the memories and put them on a website that everyone can see.
Ask guests to bring special pictures to the memorial service as well.
Drive by special places in the funeral procession
Many funerals include a parade of cars from the funeral home or church to the cemetery or burial site. If you have this procession, arrange to have the cars drive by any particular places in the person’s life. This may be a childhood home, a beloved church or a park the person spent a lot of time. If you do not have a procession, you can still have a tour of special places as part of the memorial service.
Give gifts in the person’s name
What did your loved one care about most of all? Identify which causes or organizations were important to the person, and make a donation in memory. In addition to this, buy some personal gifts. For example, if the person was active in a religious organization, you might ask if that group has any needs.
Maybe the youth club needs some audio-visual equipment, or perhaps the church could use an updated computer. Give this specific gift in the name of the person who was lost. If the person was active in Boy Scouts, find out if there is a particular needy child you could send to camp. It will feel good to give in a way that causes people to hear and speak your loved one’s name.
Take a memorial trip
Where did the person you lost love to spend time? Was there a location that your loved one visited again and again, or was there a place where you and the person spent time together?
Grab a few close friends or family members who are also grieving, and a plan a trip that is all about remembering the deceased. Be sure to visit specific locations your loved one enjoyed, and share as many memories as possible. Let tour guides, hotel staff and other people you encounter know that you are celebrating a life.
Focus on a hobby or interest
One way to personalize a funeral is to incorporate a theme that mattered to the deceased. For example, some motorcycle enthusiasts will have cycling friends drive by the funeral home and may even have a bike in front of the casket during the service. You might remember an animal lover at a local shelter or take the funeral for an outdoor enthusiast into the woods. Think about decorations and activities you can have at the funeral that will speak to who the person was in life.
Losing someone you love can be more comforting when you feel that you are truly honoring the one who has died. You can do more than have a traditional funeral. With some imagination, you can memorialize your loved one in a unique way that focuses on what was special and extraordinary about the life the person lived.