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  • Writer's pictureSian Storey

Memorial ceremonies: 5 ways to celebrate a loved one’s end of life after lockdown

There have always been reasons why family and friends have a memorial ceremony after someone has died. Sometimes it’s through choice; perhaps the person who died chose to have a direct cremation with little fuss, so the family decided to do something to commemorate their loved one's death when the ashes are returned. For others, they may have no choice as there may not be a body to cremate or bury.

Right now, there are many families up and down the country who have yearned to have the funeral ceremony that they and their loved ones wanted but because of the social distancing restrictions surrounding Covid 19, the choice to have all that they wanted may have been removed. This must be utterly heart-breaking not to be able to take part in rituals that to some extent offer comfort and to enable them to start the grieving process.

There are, however, different ways to re-frame how we celebrate the life of a loved one after the funeral has taken place. It might not be what was wanted when it was needed, but it can offer some form of comfort to gather together again with family and friends, to hug and cry together and to remember that person with love and affection.


If someone had lived in an area for a long time, perhaps all their lives, there are usually significant places that could be used as a base to hold a ceremony. The old “Doo Cot” in Kinninigars Park in Bo’ness, for example, is a beautiful old structure that could be home for a short while to an intimate gathering.

“Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words” (Plautus)

Is there a favourite place that your loved one used to walk to or visit? A family and friends picnic together is one way to celebrate with your loved one’s favourite food and drink! Yes, living in the UK, you may well be a hostage to the weather, but with some careful planning, if food and drink was important to your loved one, what better way to celebrate.

A garden memorial tree

Is there a tree in your garden or someone else’s in the family that could be used as a memorial tree? Decorating it with photos, hanging jars with lights or flowers in, or with their favourite clothes is one way to keep their memory alive. It could be a permanent memorial or one that could be redecorated each year on an anniversary.

“A seed neither fears light nor darkness but uses both to grow.” (Matshona Dhliwayo)

Scattering wildflower seeds in a favourite place is a wonderful way to keep the memory of a loved one alive as they return to flower every year. Flowers carry symbolism, the most obvious being Forget-Me-Nots, but Poppies, Daisies and Marigiolds also carry significance. Peace and eternal sleep for Poppies, innocence and new beginnings for Daisies. It is also said that the vibrant yellow colours of Marigolds guide spirits into the afterlife.

Construct a family cairn

A cairn is a human-made pile or stack of stones. In Scotland, there is an old tradition of carrying a stone from the bottom of the valley to the top and placing it on top of an existing cairn or adding a stone each time you visit a burial place. Creating a cairn in a special place could be a new ritual for your family. Asking each person attending the ceremony to bring a stone, decorated or otherwise, will have extra meaning for everyone who comes.

These are just a few of the different things that can be done to commemorate someone’s life. If this is something that you would like to do, please do get in touch and we can discuss.

What would YOU do to make a celebration of life special? Leave a note in the comments box below!

#KinningarsParkDovecot #UKSOCCelebrant #UKSOCProfessionallyTrained

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