There may be any number of reasons why you may not be able to attend a funeral at any time. If the person who died is important to you, you may wish to try some of the following ideas to help you navigate the feelings of loss and disappointment if you are unable to join other mourners.

Prepare

In preparation, take the time to think about simple things that would be meaningful both to you and to the person who has died. Try to be creative in small but special ways. Is there something that they really enjoyed that you could include: a piece of music, a treasured photo or memento of happier times, even the scarf from the football team they supported? Is there something you could read about them that reflects who they are?  Perhaps you could write about them and have it ready to read out? 

Select a place where you will sit and be still and decide on the length of time you will be there.  If you know when the funeral is to be you may like to hold your memorial at the same time. If you are alone, call a family member or a friend and let them know at what time you will be observing the funeral. They may be willing to ‘join’ you at the same time either with technology, or in spirit wherever they are situated.

Block out the time to coincide with the funeral

At the designated time, you could light a small candle to mark the beginning of your ‘presence’ at the funeral. You could write down some thoughts or special memories as they occur to you, or simply speak them out gently, alone or with those who live with you and read out what you have prepared. 

If there are children in the household, do involve them. Let them prepare drawings or things to say, let them see tears and also laugh at the quirky memories. Answer their questions as truthfully as you can for their age.

When you reach the end of your allotted time, say something in conclusion and blow out the candle. There will not, of course be the usual gathering of friends over a cup of tea or a glass of beer, but you could nonetheless make yourself something nice to eat and drink and perhaps toast the life of the friend you have lost.

Creating a memorial

Finally, begin to think of what you might do to say goodbye with others in the future. If you are the organiser, you have time to think about this and discuss it with others to ensure it encapsulates all you would want to say about the person and what you would like to do yourselves to say goodbye. You might like to plant a tree, bury or scatter ashes, put up a plaque, create a memory album or hold a service in church.  You may not have been able to be at the actual moment of the funeral but your goodbye and marking of their life can be just as meaningful and special.

If you are a friend or colleague, suggest to others that you do something together to mark the life lost and ask for ideas. They may have been unable to attend the funeral themselves and will be grateful for the opportunity to do something and help you create something memorable.