Some families have chosen to have a direct cremation for their loved one with the aim of having a memorial ceremony later because of the pandemic and the restrictions both on time available for a funeral service and numbers that are allowed to attend – generally numbers are restricted to 30 mourners at the most depending on the funeral venue size.

In some cases, this avoids having to choose which family members and friends attend the funeral, as well as telling those who expected to attend that it isn’t possible due to number restrictions. Also, some of those who would have attended are abroad and can’t attend due to travel restrictions.

Having a memorial ceremony later may be a good option for a family,  especially if your family members live in different areas of the country or are based abroad.

What is a memorial ceremony?

A memorial ceremony can be very similar to a funeral service without the body. It could be that you have the ashes, and the scattering of the ashes will be part of the ceremony.

Memorial Ceremonies can be held a significant time after the death for example on the anniversary of the death or perhaps the deceased birthday.

The Memorial Ceremony can be somewhere significant to the deceased such as a particular pub or hotel room, a village hall, a local park or your garden.

Photo: Unsplash

You could hold (with permission) the memorial ceremony in your local park.

Choose somewhere significant and suitable depending on the numbers and whether you want to provide refreshment afterwards and think about how much you want to spend and stick to a budget – your loved one will not want you to go overboard with expense.

Memorial Ceremonies can last longer than a funeral as you build in more time to talk about the deceased, share memories of your times with them, and meet family and friends who also feel your loss.

Plan the order of the service and the contents of the ceremony in line with the person being celebrated.  There are no rules as to what you have to say or do.

Things you could include when planning your Memorial Ceremony

Engage a Celebrant to conduct your ceremony

A celebrant is used to creating and delivering funeral and memorial services and will be able to give you ideas on what to include and how to out the service together  – in line with your wishes.  They can announce speakers, suggest and play music, and introduce other activities to keep to time in line with your plans.

A speech celebrating the life of the deceased

The speech or speeches about the life of the deceased can be compiled following contributions from a number of family and friends –  it doesn’t have to be delivered by just one person, though your Celebrant or Main Speaker might deliver this if you wish them to. Different speakers can then share their own memories about the person’s life  – for example work colleagues, family, friends, neighbours, those involved in social or community activities.


You might want to include music that the deceased loved or music that reminds you of times you spent with them in your memorial ceremony. It might be that you know people who play an instrument such as ukulele groups to play live. Music can help so much when it comes to emotion and grief as it helps us to remember happy times spent together.

Of course,  you aren’t restricted on the number of songs you would like to include. You might even want to include and have a dance.

Time for reflection during your Memorial Ceremony.

You will almost certainly want to include reflection time which could be:

  • a moment’s silence
  • a poem
  • a prayer
  • a quiet piece of music
  • having a memorial book for those attending to write in their thoughts and memories
  • a time for people to pay their respects beside the ashes casket perhaps by placing a flower nearby

All of the above gives people the chance to say goodbye in their own way.

Personal Touches to include in your Memorial Ceremony.

Want to do something different in your Memorial Ceremony.

Think about your person – did they have a hobby, interest, sport or some particular thing that makes you smile when you recall it? Can this be included in their Memorial Ceremony?

Photo Unsplash

When celebrations are allowed, you could have a selection of your loved ones favourite food, dessert, chocolates and allow people to help themselves for refreshments.

You could give all guests a ‘Wakeaway’ bag and put in some/all of the following:-

  • A miniature of the person’s favourite tipple to raise a glass to them.
  • A favourite photo of them.
  • A copy of the Order of Service if you have one
  • A bottle/can of their favourite beer
  • A box of your loved ones favourite chocolate
  • A box of their favourite biscuits
  • A couple of their favourite tea bags which will remind people of your loved one when they have a brew
  • A cutting, plant or pack of seeds or herbs if the deceased loved gardening
  • A keyring (or other mementos) with, for example, their favourite team’s logo or colours on.
  • You could cut up, for example, a dress or short that your loved one was known to wear for people to remember them by.
  • You might want to order a set of candles with your loved ones name, DOB, Date of Death and ask that those attending light it on a relevant anniversary to remember the anniversary or birthday of your loved one.
  • My Dad, whose funeral ceremony I wrote, always bought tins of rice pudding whenever he went shopping. It didn’t matter how many tins he had at home. We were left with 40 tins of rice pudding which I gave to the local foodbank. I later thought it would have been nice to ask those attending to take a tin home with them. If your family member did something similar, you could give the Memorial Ceremony guests a tin of rice pudding or a book or the chosen item

The ‘Wake-Away bag is a small and different way of remembering the best of your loved one and your memories of them.

We are living through a pandemic and it is strange times, but we want to honour the life and memory of our loved ones in a helpful and suitable way.

Contact me info@lakesceremonies to discuss your memorial ceremony