How to Honour Someone if You Can’t Go to Their Funeral 0

The Covid-19 outbreak means that many of us won’t be able to attend funerals this spring. These rules are important — they keep us, and our loved ones, safe — but it can be hard to grieve without having a way to pay your respects and say goodbye. 

So, what can you do, if you can’t go to the funeral? We’ve created this round-up to help you find your own way to say goodbye from home.

 

10 ways to honour someone if you can’t go to their funeral

Not everything on the list here will work for everyone. Just go with what suits you, and forget the rest. And if you have advice or an experience to share, please do add it in the comments and help others.

 

Make space to mourn

What to do if you can't attend a funeral.On the day of the funeral, clear some space in your home (or garden!) to spend time in while the funeral happens. 

You might like to bring in some photos or mementos that remind you of them. Light a candle or two, if you have some. Let the people you live with know you need some time to mourn, so that they know to be quiet if they’re not going to be with you.

When the funeral begins, you can simply sit and have a moment of peace here. You can think about the person who died or talk to them. Or you could…

 

Watch a funeral live stream

It may be possible for the family to set up a live video stream of the funeral, so that you can watch the service from home. 

It’s worth rehearsing this beforehand if you’ve not used the platform before. Remember that some free platforms have a limit on viewers and on broadcast length. And mute yourself if you’ve not been asked to speak — you don’t want background noise wafting through the speakers at the service.

 

Plant something in their memory

What to do if you can't attend a funeral.If you have a garden, you could plant some flowers, a tree or a bush in memory of the person who has died. While garden centres are mostly closed, it’s still possible to have plants delivered.

Say a few words, if you like, or bury a letter or a memento. In the weeks to come, stop by the plant to water and have a moment of quiet to remember.

If you don’t have a garden, but like the idea, you can donate to the Woodland Trust to dedicate a tree to their memory. You’ll be able to come and visit the tree once the current government measures have been lifted.

 

Write a eulogy or a letter to the person you’ve lost

What would you have said, if you had been able to speak at the funeral? Write it down now. You could draft a eulogy — a story of their life, from beginning to end — or share a single perfect memory. Or you could write to the person who has died, and say something you’ve always been meaning to say.

You can send these thoughts to the family of the person who has died, if you want. Or read what you’ve written out loud, perhaps on a video call with other people who knew them. You could even ask the funeral director to place your letter in the coffin before the funeral.

 

Create a playlist of their favourite music

What to do if you can't attend a funeral.You can use Spotify or Youtube to create a playlist of your loved one’s favourite songs, or just music that reminds you of them. Have a listen throughout the day. If you like, you could even share it online with friends and family.

You can even sing along! One of the benefits of staying home is that no one is there to hear you. And it might help you feel better.

 

Donate to a cause they loved

At a time when it’s not always possible to send flowers, donating to a charity is a great alternative. Give whatever you can spare — every little really does help. Choose a cause that was close to the heart of the person who has died, or something they’d approve of.

With the family’s permission, you could also set up a memorial crowdfunding page to boost donations. Create one for free on Beyond here.

 

Create art to express your feelings

What to do if you can't attend a funeral.Art can be very therapeutic during a tough time. It doesn’t matter if you’re not very good: the point is to express yourself. No one else has to see it. Paint, draw, write poems, compose music — whatever helps you relax.

This is a particularly good option if you have kids in the house who are also grieving. Spend time together as a family drawing pictures for the person who has died, or decorating cards, or making collages with (copies of) old photos of them. 

 

Do something nice for their family

Self isolation and social distancing measures are crucial, but they do make it hard to comfort grieving friends. 

For now, concentrate on all the things you can do. 

Ring them to talk, often. Drop off groceries, get meals delivered, order them a present online. Write letters, and emails, and set up a regular video call. Wave at them from outside the window as you go by the house. Anything that shows you’re thinking of them is good.

 

Learn to do something they loved

What to do if you can't attend a funeral.One of the strangely positive side effects of the coronavirus measures is that many of us now have oodles of free time. And a great way to use that time is to learn to do something that the person you lost enjoyed.

Cook all their favourite recipes until you’re a master. Start learning an instrument, or brush up on a second language they were good at. Teach yourself to knit, if they knitted, or take up bird watching (in the garden) if that was their thing. Anything that helps you feel close to them. 

 

Throw an (online) wake in their honour

If you’re at home with the family, you could do this together. If you’re alone, try arranging a video call with other friends and family who were close to the person who has died. 

You don’t have to have a formal structure for this. You could just call and have a chat. But one idea is to take it in turns to raise a glass of their favourite beverage and make a toast in memory of the person you’ve lost. Share stories, laugh, cry — all the things you’d usually have a chance to do at the wake.

And remember: you can always turn the camera off to have a bit of a cry in private. Blame it on patchy wifi.

 

Remember, help is available

Losing someone you’re close to is always painful. And now is a particularly hard time to be going through this. If you need someone to talk to:

  • Cruse Bereavement Care offer free advice for bereaved people and a support line to chat: 0808 808 1677.
  • The Samaritans help line is open 24/7 if you’d just like to talk: 116 123.
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The Unexpected Rise of Cremation Jewellery 0

cremation jewellery
If you stopped someone on the street 15 years ago and asked them whether they had any human ashes on them, they would have thought you were mad.
 
Now – well, they’ll probably still think you’re mad – but you’re far more likely to get a “yes” for an answer. More and more people are carrying a loved one’s ashes with them in ‘keepsake’ jewellery. A once-tiny industry is suddenly flourishing. But why this, and why now?
 

Memorial jewellery has a history

This is not a new thing. The Victorians (ever morbid) were keen on memorial jewellery of all kinds. Often made from jet and other black materials, these pieces fit with the strict mourning dress code of the day
 
At the time, British cremation was still in its infancy. So, Victorian memorial jewellery didn’t usually contain ashes. But many pieces contained a small memento, like a lock of hair. They were a way to show the world that you treasured a loved one’s memory.
 
Eventually, memorial jewellery fell out of fashion. People were living longer, and by WWI the culture around death and mourning had shifted. But the precedent was set…
 

Attitudes towards cremation have changed

Cremation was controversial at first. The British Home Office banned the first crematorium from use shortly after its construction. It took years (and lawsuits) before cremations could regularly take place.
 
But, by the late 1960s, the number of families choosing this option had overtaken burial. And as that number grew, there was a gradual shift in what people decided to do with the ashes, as well.
 
In the 60s, around 80% of families buried or scattered ashes in the remembrance garden at the crematorium. Now, that figure is completely reversed, with 80% of families taking the ashes away with them. 
 
Preferences have also shifted away from the big-urn-on-the-mantlepiece towards scattering. People often don’t want the ashes (and there are alot of ashes) in the house. While it can be comforting to keep a loved one close by, large urns can be intimidating, and the question of where to put them equally daunting
 
By comparison, scattering the ashes on a hillside or river has real romantic appeal. It can feel like more of a final resting place. A small ceremony, somewhere that resonates with the person they love, can offer a kind of closure. In fact, 79% of people who want a cremation would like their ashes scattered.
 


A happy medium

Ashes jewellery

But scattering does have drawbacks. More than a few people who have scattered ashes have found themselves missing them. By then, it’s too late to do anything about it. So, many of us have started to wonder if there was a way to do both: put the person to rest, but also keep them close. 

 
Enter ashes jewellery. Families can scatter most of the ashes, and keep a small amount back to place in a locket or ring. And over the last few years, this way of memorialising someone seems to have blossomed. Now, there is a wide selection of ashes jewellery to choose from. From hollow pendants to clever pieces with the ashes held in glass or resin, there’s something for everyone
 
But, unlike Victorian memorial pieces, these new designs are subtle. Rather than broadcasting the owner’s loss, they allow the wearer to feel close to their loved one – without anyone the wiser.
 

Future or fad?

Only time will tell if ashes jewellery is a brief fashion or here to stay. But most people are at least aware of the option, and a number of companies have sprung up to meet this need. It’s also possible we’ll never know quite how popular ashes jewellery is. After all, with the new pieces being so discreet, who else is to know you’re wearing them – unless you tell them …

Funeral Hymns 0

funeral hymns

Not everyone wants or has a religious funeral service, but for those who do, funeral hymns play an important part in the memorial process. Hymns can take many different forms and be uplifting, sad, melancholic or inspirational, just like other types of music. With this in mind, we take a look at ten of the most popular hymns for funerals.

Your chosen funeral director will be able to assist you in picking funeral hymns. You can compare from over 1,500 funeral directors all over the UK using our handy directory. Simply head here to get started.

10. All Things Bright and Beautiful

“All Things Bright and Beautiful” is an Anglican funeral hymn written in the 17th century. The lyrics are by Cecil Frances Alexander. It’s a very popular Christian funeral hymn. There’s probably no better known hymn in the UK, this is a good choice for those that want to have all those in attendance singing in full voice. A beautiful hymn dedicated to the celebration of all things living, it contains a positive message of love that can prove a great help on a difficult day.

Listen to “All Things Bright and Beautiful” on YouTube here or on Spotify here

Lyrics
All things bright and beautiful,
all creatures great and small,
all things wise and wonderful,
the lord god made them all.
Each little flower that opens,
each little bird that sings,
he made their glowing colours,
he made their little wings.
The purple-headed mountain,
the river running by,
the sunset and the morning,
that brightens up the sky.
The cold wind in the winter,
the pleasant summer sun,
the ripe fruits in the garden,
he made them every one.
The tall trees in the greenwood,
the meadows where we play,
the rushes by the water,
we gather every day.

9. Shine Jesus Shine

Shine Jesus Shine is another uplifting hymn that asks us to celebrate life and God’s work rather than mourning the deceased. A modern composition, this hymn may not be as well-known among the older attendees, but it is always wonderful when sung in remembrance.

Listen to “Shine Jesus Shine” on YouTube here or on Spotify here

Lyrics
Lord, the light of your love is shining
In the midst of the darkness, shining
Jesus, light of the world, shine upon us
Set us free by the truth you now bring us
Shine on me, shine on me
Shine, Jesus, shine
Fill this land with the father’s glory
Blaze, spirit, blaze
Set our hearts on fire
Flow, river, flow
Flood the nations with grace and mercy
Send forth your word
Lord, and let there be light
Lord, i come to your awesome presence
From the shadows into your radiance
By the blood i may enter your brightness
Search me, try me, consume all my darkness
Shine on me, shine on me
As we gaze on your kingly brightness
So our faces display your likeness
Ever changing from glory to glory
Mirrored here may our lives tell your story
Shine on me, shine on me

8. Jerusalem

Based on William Blake’s poem And did those feet in ancient time, this incredibly popular hymn occupies a special spot in the English collective conscious, with some suggesting that it should be the country’s anthem. If you like a rousing piece of religious music, you can’t go wrong with this, and it crops up time and again as one of the most popular Church of England hymns for funerals.

Listen to “Jerusalem” on YouTube here or on Spotify here

Lyrics
And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy lamb of god
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark satanic mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear, oh clouds unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Til we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land
Songwriters: Rupert Christie / William Blake / Charles Parry
Jerusalem lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG Rights Management

7. Do Not Be Afraid

For some, death is not something to be frightened of and should be considered a natural part of life itself. For others, it is something to fear. This hymn offers sympathy and consolation to those who are afraid of the end and is often sung at funerals across the country.

Listen to “Do Not Be Afraid” on YouTube here or on Spotify here

Lyrics
Do not be afraid,
For I have redeemed you.
I have called you by your name;
You are mine.

When you walk through the waters I’ll be with you,
You will never sink beneath the waves.

Do not be afraid,
For I have redeemed you.
I have called you by your name;
You are mine.

When the fire is burning all around you,
You will never be consumed by the flames.

Do not be afraid,
For I have redeemed you.
I have called you by your name;
You are mine.

When the fear of loneliness is looming,
Then remember I am at your side.

Do not be afraid,
For I have redeemed you.
I have called you by your name;
You are mine.

When you dwell in the exile of a stranger,
Remember you are precious in my eyes.

Do not be afraid,
For I have redeemed you.
I have called you by your name;
You are mine.

You are mine, O my child; I am your father,
And I love you with a perfect love.

Do not be afraid,
For I have redeemed you.
I have called you by your name;
You are mine.

Songwriters: Gerald Markland

6. Amazing Grace

This hymn revolves around the idea of salvation and the deep peace one can find in death. It is one of the most popular hymns for Catholic funerals in the UK and many people find it a reassuring piece of music that can be delivered with real emotion.

Listen to “Amazing Grace” on YouTube here or on Spotify here

Lyrics
Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
T’was blind but now I see
T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear
And Grace, my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed
Through many dangers, toils and snares
We have already come.
T’was grace that brought us safe thus far
And grace will lead us home,
And grace will lead us home
Amazing grace, Howe Sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now am found
T’was blind but now I see
Was blind, but now I see.

Songwriters: Steve Abbott / Simon Lole / Ian Tilley / Traditional / Unknown Writer
Amazing Grace lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

5. Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

Sung at the wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William, this hymn was written by the famous composer Charles Wesley and remains one of his most popular pieces of music. Though it deals with earthly love and relations, it tries to place such love in the context of the much larger, all-encompassing love of God.

Listen to “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” on YouTube here or on Spotify here

Lyrics
Love divine, all loves excelling,
joy of heav’n, to earth come down,
fix in us Thy humble dwelling;
all Thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, Thou art all compassion;
pure, unbounded love Thou art;
visit us with Thy salvation;
enter ev’ry trembling heart.

Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit
into ev’ry troubled breast!
Let us all in Thee inherit;
let us find the promised rest.
Take away the love of sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
end of faith, as its beginning,
set our hearts at liberty.

Come, Almighty, to deliver;
let us all Thy life receive;
suddenly return and never,
nevermore Thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
serve Thee as Thy hosts above,
pray and praise Thee without ceasing,
glory in Thy perfect love.

Finish then Thy new creation;
pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see Thy great salvation
perfectly restored in Thee.
Changed from glory into glory,
till in heav’n we take our place,
till we cast our crowns before Thee,
lost in wonder, love, and praise.

Songwriters: Charles Wesley

4. Ave Maria

While Schubert’s adaptation Ave Maria also made it into our post detailing the top ten pieces of classical music to be played at funerals, there’s a number of different versions of this piece of music to enjoy and replicate at a Catholic or Church of England funeral service.

Listen to “Ave Maria” on YouTube here or on Spotify here

Lyrics
Ave Maria
Gratia plena
Maria Gratia plena
Maria Gratia plena
Ave, Ave Dominus tecum
Benedicta tu in mulieribus
Et benedictus,
Benedictus fructos ventris tui,
Tui Jesus
Ave Maria
Ave Maria
Gratia plena
Maria Gratia plena
Maria Gratia plena
Ave, Ave Dominus, dominus tecum
Benedicta tu in mulieribus
Et benedictus,
Benedictus fructos ventris tui,
Tui Jesus
Ave Maria
Ave Maria

Songwriters: Charles Francois Gounod / John William Lenehan / Malcolm Messiter / Nigel Kennedy
Ave Maria lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

3. I Heard The Voice Of Jesus Say

I Heard The Voice Of Jesus Say is a hymn centred on the idea that comfort can be found in Jesus during difficult or testing times. This makes it an apt choice for those struggling with the loss of a loved one in need of consoling.

Listen to “I Heard The Voice Of Jesus Say” on YouTube here or on Spotify here

Lyrics
I heard the voice of Jesus say
‘Come on to me and rest’
Lay down thy weary,
Weary one lay down,
Lay thy head upon my breast.
I went to Jesus as I was,
I was weary, worn and sad
I found in Him a resting place
And He has made me glad.
Take my yoke upon you
And learn about me,
For my yoke is easy
And my burdens are light
And my burdens are light
I heard the voice of Jesus say
‘Behold I freely give’
Oh, the living waters, oh thirsty one,
Stoop down and drink and live.
I heard the voice of Jesus say
‘Come on to me and rest’
You’ve got to Lay down thy weary,
Weary one lay down,
Lay thy head upon my breast.
I went to Jesus as I was,
You know I was weary, worn and sad
I found in Him, yes I found in him a resting place
Oh, you know He’s made… me glad.
I heard the voice, yes of Jesus say
‘Behold I freely give’
Oh, the living waters, oh thirsty one,
Stoop down and drink and live.
Oh I wonder, I wonder you could ever hear me?
I keep on calling, you’ve got to hear me
Oh, I’m pleading, everybody hear my plead
Oh, Jesus, hear my name, Oh Jesus
I said: ‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus’
I’m pleading, I’m pleading
You’ve got to hear me, yeah
You’ve got to hear me calling
I’m calling ‘Jesus’, I keep calling
I said Yeah…, Jesus
I’ve just to keep on calling,
Calling your name, I just call, I just call…
Yeah Yeah, You’ve got to hear me, hear me
Hear me, hear me calling, yes I do,
You’ve got to hear me
I said Yeah…, Jesus Ahh…
You’ve got to hear me, Jesus
I keep calling, calling your name
Oh Jesus, Oh Jesus,
I’m calling, calling your name I keep on calling
Hold down my name
I pray, I pray… Yes, I’m praying
Jesus, hear my, hear my call…

Songwriters: Daniel Scott / Trad
I Heard the Voice of Jesus lyrics © Fox Music A Division Of Classic Fox Records L, Vine Ridge Music, WIM WENDERS STIFTUNG

2. Morning Has Broken

Morning Has Broken is another composition that can provide a little positivity and light in moments of darkness and despair. Concerned with matters of new life and rebirth, most will know both the words and music due to its regular performance in schools and churches.

Listen to “Morning Has Broken” on YouTube here or on Spotify here

Lyrics
Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing
Praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the world
Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass
Mine is the sunlight
Mine is the morning
Born of the one light Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise ev’ry morning
God’s recreation of the new day
Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing
Praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the world

Songwriters: Eleanor Farjeon / Yusuf Islam
Morning Has Broken lyrics © BMG Rights Management

1. Be Thou My Vision

As this hymn deals with the issue of God as guide and divine vision, it’s often chosen to be sung at funerals. With both the deceased and mourners requiring direction and assistance, this call for help and guidance can offer some consolation.

Listen to “Be Thou My Vision” on YouTube here or on Spotify here

Lyrics
Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that thou art –
Thou my best thought, by day or by night;
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.
Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word;
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord.
Thou my great Father; thine own may I be,
Thou in me dwelling and I one with thee.
Riches I heed not, nor vain, empty praise;
Thou mine inheritance, now and always;
Thou and thou only first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my treasure thou art.
High King of heaven, my victory won,
May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

Songwriters: Eleanor Hull
Be Thou My Vision lyrics © Oxford University Press

 

If you still haven’t found the funeral hymn that you’re looking for. Take a look at our playlist compilation of the most popular funeral hymns on Spotify. We have a selection ranging from uplifting, gospel, Catholic, Baptist and Anglican hymns for funerals below.

If we’ve missed out any good funeral hymns, please let us know in the comment section below and we’ll add it to our playlist. Thank you!