There are many reasons why you might not be able to attend a funeral – but that shouldn’t stop you from being able to pay your respects and send your condolences to friends and family of the deceased.
Whether you’re unwell, have a prior engagement, live far away, or have work commitments, funerals are often arranged at short notice, which means you might not be able to attend.
Currently, the coronavirus pandemic means that fewer people are allowed to attend funerals, due to restrictions on large crowds. For families, this means making difficult decisions on who to invite. Although you might not be included in the actual funeral, there are lots of ways you can show your respects. We’ve listed a few of these ideas below.
Make a donation
Many families prefer to receive donations to a cause that was important to the deceased, rather than the traditional flowers. This is an ideal way to pay your respects to your loved one, as it can be done from a distance. You can also choose how much you donate – and perhaps continue making a regular donation in the future to keep a lasting memory of the deceased.
Some families may even set up a memorial page or website, where you can go and make a donation to the chosen cause. You might choose to do this every year on the anniversary of their death or on their birthday.
Although sending flowers is a lovely gesture, it often means more organisation and hassle for the deceased’s family to sort out. To create a more lasting memory and still pay your respects, planting a tree or rose bush – or any flower or plant of your choice – is a much more thoughtful way of paying your respects if you cannot attend the funeral.
You’ll then have a beautiful piece of nature, which you can reflect upon whenever you choose, to remember your loved one. If you choose a rose bush or other flower, you can always take clippings or create your own bouquet, which you can then take to the deceased’s family in the future.
Send a card or letter
Talking about death and dying can be difficult, but it’s good to be open and honest about your feelings, especially when someone you love has died. To pay your respects, you can send a sympathy card to the family – but another way is to write a letter to the deceased. Although you won’t send this letter, it’s a cathartic way to express how you’re feeling about what’s happened, what you loved about the person, and how their death has made you feel.
You can then either keep the letter and reflect back on it in the future, or file it away as a chapter closed. If you feel comfortable doing so, you can send the letter to the family, so they can enjoy your memories of the deceased as well.
Make a photo montage
Whether you choose to create a photo montage online or as a physical collage, they’re a beautiful way to commemorate the memory of a loved one, without actually attending the funeral. You can either create this as a gift for the deceased’s family or keep it for yourself as a reminder. If you choose to create it online, you can add to it and keep it as a virtual memorial, which means others can share their photos and memories together.
Send food or a care package to the family
If it’s safe and feasible to do so, you could create a care package for the family, including essential items such as toilet roll, pasta, bread, and milk. When a loved one has died, it can be difficult to get to the supermarket and create nourishing meals; by sending a care package, you’re allowing the family to mourn, but still look after themselves, as well as paying your respects in a helpful manner.
When there isn’t a global pandemic, you can always cook a casserole or pasta bake, something that can be easily transported and heated back up, and simply drop it off at the family’s home. It will be a welcome gesture, especially if you’re unable to attend the funeral.
Support the family after the funeral
Grief doesn’t just switch off once the funeral has happened. If you can, offer your support to the family after the funeral, especially if you were unable to attend. This can come in the form of many different tasks such as:
- Helping with domestic work, such as mowing the lawn, cleaning their home, or taking their car for its MOT etc.
- Taking food on a regular basis, if they request it
- Calling them on a regular basis, or dropping in for coffee (if applicable – if not, see them from a social distance)
- Buy them a subscription to a film streaming service or their favourite magazine
- Create them their own Spotify playlist of uplifting and happy songs