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? If you and/or your loved one are Christian, the Church of England website has some suggestions for things you can do as well as prayers that you may find helpful. 

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.

 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 share with anyone who is with you or telephone someone you feel close to and invite them to share a few memories with you.

 It is a sad fact that many people around our country, and indeed the world, are facing the death of a loved one at this moment and so perhaps spare a moment to think of or pray for them as well. We are united in grief and in love, even though we may not know each other personally.

Finally, begin to think of what you might do to say goodbye with others in the future or what might be possible with social distancing.  Funeral directors, ministers and celebrants understand the need to say goodbye and are likely to be willing to cooperate with you over your wishes for a special memorial that you could hold with others when it is possible to meet again.  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.