5 Funeral Alternatives: Honoring Loved Ones Your Way

Adult daughter with arm around her grieving mom while both sit next to each other on a couch.

One of the most challenging parts of life is grieving the loss of a loved one. Traditions surrounding funerals and honoring loved ones after they die is a very personal thing and often based upon your family’s culture, heritage, traditions, religion, etc.

First, there’s the challenge of the loss you’ve just been through but there’s extra stress when others may not agree on how to honor your loved one. What if your loved one never wanted a large funeral or celebration of life and instead wanted nothing done? Or did they want something private and small with just immediate family? What if money is an issue and you don’t have the funds to follow your loved one’s wishes?

Traditional funerals can be expensive so you may want to read our blog What’s the REAL Cost of a Funeral? if you’re still on the fence about what to do.

When you’re grieving, the thought of planning any event (large or small) can be overwhelming. There’s a lot of pressure on individuals and families during an already challenging time. Honoring your loved one’s wishes is important but your own sanity is important too. You may want to read our blog 8 Tips For Talking About Final Wishes with Your Loved Ones.

You’re not alone. Many celebrities have chosen nontraditional funerals so you’re in good company. Below are five funeral alternatives to help as you decide what’s best for you and your family.

1. An At-Home Funeral

When we think of a funeral, we automatically think of getting dressed up, visiting a funeral home and/or attending a service in a house of worship. In recent years, the concept of funerals at home has become more popular as it’s cost-effective and an intimate alternative to traditional funeral services. Up until recent history, all funerals were at home. The concept of a funeral home handling things is a newer idea. Just as more people are choosing to die at home, families can take an active role in caring for their loved one’s body which is a more personal experience and can be a healing way for family members to say their final goodbyes.

2. Green Burials

For those concerned about the environmental impact of traditional burials, green burials offer a sustainable alternative. In a green burial, the body is laid to rest without embalming fluids or metal caskets. This eco-friendly option often takes place in designated natural burial grounds. Check your local ordinances for where green burials are allowed.

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3. Memorial or Celebration of Life at Home

Instead of renting space for a service many families choose to host something at home. This option not only saves on costs but also creates a homey atmosphere for friends and family to share memories. It can be exactly what you want, formal with an order of service or more casual, even a backyard get together to remember together. Personal touches like photo collages, displaying meaningful mementos and incorporating your loved one’s favorite music or hobbies can make an at home event unique, personal and comforting.

4. Cremation Jewelry and Keepsakes

Cremation has become a more affordable and accepted option for families. To add a personal touch, families can choose cremation jewelry or keepsakes that hold a small portion of their loved one’s ashes. These items serve as a physical reminder and can be passed down through generations which creates a multigenerational connection.

5. Virtual Memorials

In the age of technology, virtual memorials have become a practical and cost-effective way to bring people together, especially when distance is a barrier. Families can organize online gatherings, share memories through video calls, and create digital memorial spaces where friends and family can contribute photos, stories, and condolences.

A Word About “Closure”

Society puts a lot of pressure on us to do things a certain way and often uses the term “closure” as if closure can only happen through a traditional funeral. Though some take great comfort from a funeral or memorial service in an official house of worship, others may not. Some may find that being in nature or spending time in a healing place can help heal some wounds of grief. When we lose someone important in our lives there may never be closure but instead a process of learning to live with the loss. Give yourself the gift of grace and time.   

Not sure about funeral alternatives? You may want to read our blog What to Know About Prepaid Funerals

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