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Here are some ideas for organising a memorial event to celebrate the life of someone you’ve lost. 

By Hannah Jackson-McCamley, Funeral Celebrant

Hannah is an experienced celebrant who specialises in unique services that truly reflect the person that has died and the needs of those left behind. She is passionate about people, music, literature and travel and is training to be a psychotherapist.

What is a memorial ceremony?

While a memorial honours the life of a person who has died, it tends to be a much more joyful and uplifting event than a funeral.

The ceremony can be as simple or extravagant as you want. I’ve led very formal events, casual and relaxed ones. The tone is set by the person being remembered and the people attending. 

Memorials don’t have to be expensive or involve lots of work. Always ask for help – many people like to be involved and show that they care. 

Here are some ideas to think about (these might be useful for planning a funeral too):

Timing

Tone and structure

Venue and decorations

A memorial doesn’t need to be sombre – let your loved one’s personality guide you. 

Speeches and tributes

Rituals

Music

Food and drink

Invitations

This isn’t a wedding so an email will do fine. You could include a picture of your person, plus:

Whatever you decide, the most important thing is to feel that you are memorialising your loved one in a meaningful way that brings you and your family comfort as you navigate life without them.

Grief after bereavement doesn’t end with the funeral, and there are lots of ways to continue honouring the person who has died and find comfort in the process. By Hannah Jackson-McCamley, Funeral Celebrant

Hannah is an experienced celebrant who specialises in unique services that truly reflect the person that has died and the needs of those left behind. She is passionate about people, music, literature and travel and is training to be a psychotherapist.

When someone you love dies, it might seem as if life returns to “normal” for those around you once the funeral is over. Relatives might check in less often, and offerings of flowers or food dry up as friends assume you’re starting to ‘get over’ your bereavement.

Death, unfortunately, isn’t something we ever get over. But we can try to make peace with what has happened and even find joy when thinking of the past.

What does it mean to memorialise someone?

My experience as a celebrant has taught me that finding different ways to remember the person that has died can really help us cope with our grief. When everything feels chaotic and the world is a little emptier than before, creating rituals that hold meaning can give you a sense of control and positivity.

It might be hard to look at old photos of happier times or listen to songs your lost person played when you were a kid. But a simple memorial rite can also alleviate pain and give you a sense of the person still being present in your life.

A memorial may sound a little grand – I’m not talking about unveiling a statue or starting a foundation in their name (although if that’s how you want to create a legacy, go for it – see below for more ideas!).

Memorials can be simple things that you hold close or share just with family and friends. Here are some suggestions:

Memorialising someone by yourself

Memorialising with others

Memorials that involve money