A beautiful way to commemorate your loved one’s passing is to incorporate some form of ritual. Traditionally, lighting a candle or the releasing of balloons or birds into the air represent the release of their spirit, and can still be included in a farewell ceremony if this is something that you and your family resonate with.
However, there are also now many different options you can include instead if you’d prefer something a little more personalised, and these can be as simple or elaborate as you choose. A very sweet and intimate gesture for those saying a farewell at home is the planting of a tree in your loved one’s honour. Choosing a particular kind of tree – or flower or herb or vine, whatever suits them – is as important as the ritual itself, so we’d suggest really thinking about what kind of flora had meaning to them. Perhaps they loved a particular type of fruit, or maybe they had fond memories of sitting under a certain type of tree as a youngster – you can plant saplings of virtually anything, provided you find the perfect spot to put them.
For those choosing to say goodbye in a more public venue, you may prefer something less intimate such as a tribute video, compiling memories from several important people in your loved one’s life. This option does take a bit of planning, and we recommend choosing one person as organiser of this project to handle all the correspondence and collation of images. Perhaps someone slightly removed from the immediate family, or even a professional, as putting together something like this can be quite emotional. Including music that held importance to your special person adds an extra dimension as well.
If you are holding your send off in a public space, such as a community hall or park, you can still create an intimate and personalised atmosphere by including décor and memorabilia. Although this technically isn’t ritualistic, it definitely adds more meaning to the day as it creates a space that honours your loved one and everything that was dear to them. Consider adding not only photos but awards, recognisable clothing pieces they were known for, their accessories such as hats and jewellery, sporting colours for teams they loved, sporting equipment if they held such a passion, significant art pieces or musical instruments – anything that has a strong identification with your person. It can make a real difference to walk into a venue that looks, sounds and feels like the one you’ve lost.
Depending on your loved one’s personality and what they had interest in, you may wish to draw inspiration from some of these suggestions:
- Planting a tree
- Dedicating a star
- String of photos/fairylights around trees
- Memory cards, written by guests for family to keep
- Colouring station for children to draw pictures of your loved one
- Tribute video, created prior to the day and screened for all to share