Some tips and creative ideas for simple funerals. Create ceremonies with creative flair and personality
Creating an imaginative funeral ceremony for someone can be overwhelming. A Funeral Celebrant will have plenty of ideas! I hope these tips and ideas will help you with overwhelm when planning a no fuss funeral a burial or a ceremony for a Direct Cremation. To learn more about my ceremonies click here: https://jessmaysspecialdays.com/funeral-celebrant/
Creative funeral ceremonies s are a really beautiful way to process your personal experience of the death of someone in your life. If your person who has died was a creative it is obviously particularly relevant. These types of funerals focus on personalising the ceremony, reflecting the unique personality and interests of the person who has died. No fuss funerals, sometimes known as Direct Funerals or ceremonies where there has been a Direct Cremation lend themselves particularly well to these types of funeral ceremonies. As a Funeral Celebrant I have seen some really creative approaches. Here are some creative ideas to consider for a memorable and meaningful funeral:
#1 Create an Art Gallery
I once did a fantastic ceremony in an art gallery called The Old Print Works in Balsall Heath and have been generously given permission to share https://www.oldprintworks.org/. The artist Jason Clarke was having an exhibition put on for him before Covid but he became very poorly and died beforehand. The exhibition went ahead and his work was exhibited in his honour, you can read about his amazing work here https://www.thetinkan.co.uk/jason-clarke-bipolar-art. Jason died during lockdown Covid 19 and all of his friends gathered in between lockdowns in the gallery to pay tribute.
You can do something similar and display an art gallery showcasing your person’s artistic works or a collection of their favourite artwork and photographs and have the funeral ceremony or the memorial within the space. This can provide an opportunity to really enter into your person’s creative life. Create a mini-exhibition of the person’s artistic work or creative projects.
The gallery actually paid for the memorial and we had friends speak their thoughts with a glass of bubbly in hand. In between we all painted small squares of canvas so that at the end they could all be put together as a wall mounted art work. It was all rather splendid.
#2 Plant a Tree
Plant a Tree or a Garden: One of my friends has a little creative flower bed at the train station where he lives. You can encourage guests to plant a tree or contribute to a memorial garden in memory. My parents are buried underneath a copper beech tree and by now it will be about 15 years old. I love the idea that they gave it life and that it lives on busily making the world a better place long after their death. They are buried in a Woodland Burial site in Cornwall called Penwith https://penwithwoodlandburial.co.uk/.
#3 Gather memories:
Place a memory jar or memory board or a memory tree at the funeral where friends and family can write down their favourite memories, stories, or messages to the person.
#4 Choose a passion as a theme
I once did a ceremony for a 32 year old woman who was passionate about Harry Potter, and was a Gryffindor in her heart. We had ‘Hedwig’s Theme’ on the cello at the funeral and another piece from the film at the end, also played on the cello. I decorated the folder with a Gryffindor ‘badger’ sign and all the colours were Gryffindor. For her this was perfect as she was so young and everyone knew her love of the Harry Potter series and they were all young and it was so relatable for them. You can even ask guests to dress appropriately but, sadly, we didn’t have anyone turn up in a cloak with a wand!
#5 Visual Tribute
Assign someone to gather all the video clips, photos, and meaningful moments from the person’s life into a tribute video or for decorating the coffin. Someone always is happy to collate everything as part of their processing…and often someone will want to actually make the slideshow or help with the decorating….but if they don’t …usually a Funeral Director will know someone who will. If you make a video you can share the video during the funeral service to celebrate their life journey. You can also then play it at the reception afterwards. I love this for the right person…but a film during the ceremony can feel jarring for the wrong person, context is everything. Decorating the coffin is an absolutely wonderful way to come together with a shared focus.
#6 Outdoor Funeral Ceremony
Some of the most wonderful no-fuss ceremonies I’ve been involved with have been outside. Woodland Burial Grounds are an obvious choice. If you have a Direct Cremation and go for a simple farewell memorial or no-fuss funeral you can take the ceremony anywhere you like out in nature. Some lovely ceremonies take place in people’s back gardens, which is especially poignant if the person who died was a gardener. You can also take the coffin into the back garden and decorate it with fresh flowers from you garden if you like! Here are some fab local Brighton Florists who might be able to help you: https://www.katelangdaleflorist.co.uk/, https://www.missmolesfloweremporium.co.uk/
#7 Use Candles
Funeral ceremonies using candles are always beautiful and resonate with most people. We no longer release candle lanterns for environmental and safety reasons but there are interesting ways to use candlelight. It is possible to find candle votives which are used in Hindu ceremonies for Divali and are biodegradable in water as they are made from clay. They are called Diya and you can even find them made from bamboo and cow dung, click here to find them: https://fermoscapes.com/products/cow-dung-organic-eco-friendly-natural-sustainable-diyas. Candles can be floated on rivers or on the sea and a procession of light floating away is deeply symbolic. You can write messages on rice paper to your person and release them into the water with the votives. Battery operated candles are great for flame-free venues but a bit of a last resort as they are made from plastic and not recyclable. Candles are great for lighting in memory too.
I hope you have found these ideas interesting and useful! f you are interested in learning some more creative ideas for funerals join my newsletter for free downloads full of ideas!