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Do you have to have a ‘traditional’ funeral?

Most people are under the impression that a funeral is purely there for the person they have lost. In truth, a funeral is, quite often, to help the living say goodbye to their lost loved one. People all over the world hold funeral services for people they have lost and not one funeral is the same as the other; some are religious, some are poetic, and others are full of bright colours. The idea of a ‘traditional funeral,’ whereby people might wear black, is becoming less and less common. Do not feel pressured to hold a ‘tradition’ funeral, especially if you know that the person you have lost would not have liked it for themselves. In fact, some people actually state they want everyone to wear bright colours when they pass away – with the idea that funerals should be a celebration of life, not necessarily an occasion to mark death.

There are no limits

In some cultures and religions, you are bound to specific traditions when it comes to holding a funeral. However, for many of us, there are no set rules and regulations stating what we can, can’t or must do on such occasion. Remember, when holding a funeral, you need to take into consideration how meaningful certain rituals would be to the person you have lost; choosing something they would love might bring immense comfort to everyone who is morning their loss.

Equally, if you do decide to avoid holding a traditional funeral, this doesn’t mean you have to go over the top, either. Doing something ‘unconventional,’ such as opening a bottle of bubbly or playing their favourite music are examples of ‘alternative’ ways to celebrate someone’s life. These ‘alternative’ funeral ideas may also really help your grieving process.

‘Alternative’ funeral ideas

We have all heard of a ‘traditional’ funeral, and very similar images probably come to mind when we picture one. However, what is an ‘alternative’ funeral? An ‘alternative’ funeral comes away from a lot of the traditional conventions people associate with a funeral. Many people like to see alternative funerals as a far more celebratory affair, rather than a sad occasion. Lots of people are now favouring alternative funerals, while also marking the occasion alongside something else, such as buying memorial jewellery, taking a special trip or naming a star after their lost loved one. There are so many alternative funeral ideas that you might want to consider:

Family led service – Often, people can feel uncomfortable having a complete stranger leading a funeral for someone they care about deeply. It can feel uncomfortable, welcoming them into your inner circle, while you mourn someone close to you. In recent years, more people are favouring the idea of conducting the funeral themselves, by organising and performing the services.


Eco-Funeral – When organising a funeral, you want it to resemble the life of the person you have lost. If your loved one was someone who loved spending time in nature and cared deeply about the environment, you might want to consider what is called an ‘eco-funeral.’ An eco-funeral is simply returning someone ‘back to the earth’ when they have passed away. Although lots of people like the spiritual approach, many people do just like the simplicity of returning a body to the beauty and safety of the natural world.

Tree burial – For some, the thought of being buried or cremated isn’t at all appealing – not to mention the negative environmental impacts that come with these more traditional options. Instead of leaving a mark on the world like this, some people might want to go for a more ‘natural approach,’ such as being transformed into a tree. ‘Pods’ have been created to place the ashes of loved ones into, where they slowly break down and provide nutrients to the sapling that will be planted above it.

Planning a funeral can be a heart-breaking reminder that you have lost someone close to you – it just solidifies the fact that this person is no longer with you. However, having a personal and unique celebration of life can be a comforting way to remember all the good that they brought to the world, while being surrounded by everyone they also held dear. Although funerals are an extremely sad time, they should also be a chance to ‘thank’ the person you have lost, while allowing you to step into the next stage of your grieving journey.

By Rebecca Thomas