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Saying Goodbye to a Loved One

Creating the perfect farewell

Separating the celebration of life from the cremation opens up wonderful possibilities for creating a more personal goodbye. It also gives you more TIME to think about what to do so that you can really express the unique memories and relationships that make someone special to you.

Many of the following ideas have been gathered from the families we've looked after and show that you really can say goodbye YOUR way. We hope they are a creative springboard for your own perfect farewell event.


What is included

Vintage Afternoon Tea

Mum was a member of the WI for many years so tea and cake were always going to be essential ingredients. We found a collection of the last survivors of various tea sets she'd had over the years so we used these to serve the cakes that friends had baked. The grandchildren crafted table decorations and we had a lovely display made up of favourite photos, a selection of the knitted toys and jumpers she'd given us over the years, and Mum's favourite flowers. Informal, fun and quirky - just like her.

Saturday Memorial Service

Our family is scattered far and wide, so it was going to take time to gather us all together. But we knew that a church service would work for us and the vicar was happy to do this with the ashes instead of the coffin. A local print shop enlarged one of our favourite photos which we displayed on an easel at the front of the church. The urn stood in a stunning bower made by the local florist, which received lots of compliments. Taking more time and holding the event on a Saturday meant everyone could be there, which made a huge difference.

Memorial Service

Mountain climb

Reaching the Top

He loved the mountains and hills so a big group of us had a memorial ramble which carried a small portion of his ashes to a favourite peak. We snapped selfies and toasted his memory with a favourite single malt. The small linen pouch of ashes was placed snugly in a crevice which we marked with a large engraved pebble. Then down we went for a hearty lunch with more toasts and tall stories.

Doggy Delight

So many of our happiest family memories feature the beach, dogs and sandy ham sandwiches. So we decided to bring everyone together with their four-legged friends for a memorial 'doggy-lympics' followed by a big picnic. We shed a few tears but mostly laughed. We'll remember her, and that day, every time we come back to that lovely stretch of sand.

Walking the dogs

Quiet reflection

Quiet Reflection

He was a quiet man and so a big "do" was just not his style. On the day of the cremation a few of us got together at home, we each lit a candle and listened to a playlist of some of his favourite music. It was very relaxed and calm and as the music finished we each "let him go" by saying goodbye and blowing out our candles. We'll light them again on his birthday. He'll never be forgotten.

Serene Lake

"A boat took us out to the middle of the lake and once the water was still we read the poem Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep which was perfect. Then we placed the special 'ashes pillow' over the side and gently pushed it away. Everyone had a rose to toss in the water with a kiss as we played "Sailing" and sang our hearts out. Brilliant."

Lake service

Grandparents and Grandchildren

Stately Goodbye

Sunday lunches and family birthdays at the nearby hotel were always special so we arranged a memorial service there. The civil celebrant helped us create a service that included everyone who wanted to take part, from his oldest friend to the youngest great-grandchild. We'd wanted a proper service but somewhere comfortable and familiar. Beautiful readings, favourite music and a dove release on the lawn made a perfect combination.

Different types of services

Humanist Funerals

Humanist funerals and memorial services offer a personal and fitting way to say goodbye to those who have lived without religion. Every year, thousands of ceremonies are conducted by trained celebrants across the UK.

Humanist funeral celebrants are sensitive people, focused on providing a funeral ceremony that will be most fitting for the circumstances.

A Humanist Ceremonies funeral is a non-religious service that is both a dignified farewell and a celebration of a life. It recognises the profound sadness of saying goodbye whilst celebrating the life and legacy of a loved one.

Click here to find Humanist celebrants near you.

Religious Farewells

Nowadays, most Christian denominations permit cremation and a religious service without the coffin present. In fact, over the years many families have chosen to have a private or unattended cremation immediately before the memorial service.

There are many ways to have the deceased "present" during the farewell, from a selection of pictures, cherished possessions associated with the deceased, or perhaps the ashes urn as the focal point or centerpiece of a tribute table.

Speak to your local priest, minister or vicar about your wishes. Together you can work out the best way to celebrate the life, faith and relationships that made your loved one unique.

Civil Ceremonies

These services are usually non-religious but can feature hymns, prayers and readings.

The number of celebrants is growing so you will have lots of choice. Ideally, look for someone who has been properly trained who is a member of a recognised body and who has a good reputation – check out their reviews too.

Your chosen celebrant will ask you about the person who has died and will help you put together a farewell ceremony. Some will show you the final version of the service before the day, others will want you to experience it “fresh”.

The final draft is usually available for you to keep afterwards.

Call us today:

028 9600 9600

Need advice or want to begin arranging with us? Our dedicated team offers expert guidance and support and can help you get started.