Saying goodbye at a funeral is a significant part of our relationship with the person we have lost, whoever they are. We may dread it, of course, but we still want to be present and to get it ‘right’ as a fitting tribute to all that they were to us. A funeral also plays a very important part in accepting the reality of their death, so it is helpful to be involved and/or to mark the moment however we can. 

There may be good reasons why you are unable to attend such as illness or the death happened in a different country. If you find yourself in that position, there are still things you can do that will bring you comfort and help you accept your loss and start your bereavement journey.

Here are some things you may be able to do

i. Choose music

It may be possible to choose the music you or your loved one would have liked for the service.

ii. Live stream the service

Ask the funeral director if the crematorium can live stream the service. This would enable those who can’t attend -perhaps if they live abroad or are ill - to feel part of it (yourself perhaps, included).

iii. Audio or video record the service

It may be possible for a relative who is attending or a member of the funeral director staff to record or video the event. Permission will be needed from the crematorium, but the funeral director will be able to advise.

iv. Send a message for reading out

You may be able to write or record a message to be read out or played at the funeral by the celebrant or minister. Contact your funeral director for advice.

v. Place a message in the coffin

You can still place special messages for your loved one in the coffin if you wish.

vi. Ask about the funeral

If others were able to attend, ask them to call you afterwards so that you can hear their account of the event, and take the time to share your memories of the person.

vii. Hold your own memorial at home.

Set aside the time while the funeral is taking place (or later) to hold your own act of memorial at home. Perhaps look at pictures, play some of the person’s favourite music, write a message to them, light a candle or follow any of your own cultural rituals. The Church of England website offers a place for lighting and keeping an on-line candle alight for your loved one. There are some helpful suggestions about holding your own memorial service here.