Not everyone is into flowers or wants to have cut flowers at a funeral. It has become a tradition and for some is a meaningful way they can remember the person special to them. Yet, it isn’t something families should feel they have to do. There are many wonderful ways to celebrate the people we love. Having a ‘physical’ tribute’ at a funeral is one of these, but there are other ideas you may want to consider.
Some choose not to have cut funeral flowers as an eco-friendly choice. Many cut flowers purchased in the UK are imported and these do not have a positive impact on our environment. This is not only due to their carbon footprint, but also the use of chemicals that impact on our ecosystems. It is worthwhile noting that there are eco-friendly ways to have cut flowers if you want a floral tribute. You can pick these from your garden or use flowers grown locally and within the UK. You can ask florists if they offer eco-friendly tributes that don't use plastics. These are much better for our environment and offer an environmentally friendly choice.
If you have chosen not to have a floral tribute because 'they just weren't into flowers' you may find the perfect tribute is something you never considered. Something that is already close to hand and heart. Here are some alternatives we have come across:
Say it without words
As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and a photo tribute is a great way to remember someone. Sometimes a single photo is all you need but you can also include family and friends. One way is bringing a cork board getting everyone to bring a photo they can pin on. You can even decorate the coffin with photos. It’s a great way to share special memories. Often we hear that going through photos and remembering good memories is something that has really helped when planning a funeral.
Be creative with crafts
If there was a particular craft your family member or friend loved you can include aspects of this as a tribute to them. We have had handmade paintings and baskets and cotton scarves woven into a wicker coffin. We have seen tools and mementoes from games, and had a personal send-off with a favourite newspaper and crossword.
Can hobbies help?
Hobbies are an important part of our lives so including them as part of a funeral as a personal tribute seems only natural. These can be a really good reminder of the good times shared. This could be a surfboard, garden fork, or even a remote-controlled car. We have also seen golf clubs, guitars, flags for avid football supporters and cricket bats. Instead of having these made out of flowers why not bring the real thing?
A lifelong love
If your family member or friend had a life long love such as cars, motorbikes, or cycling you can incorporate this instead of flowers. We have had beloved VW vans helping to make the final journey special, motorbikes leading the hearse and friends paying tribute by arriving on their bikes. This is also a great idea for those who loved animals because at a natural burial ground you can bring the dogs or or have their horse lead the congregation over.
If your family member or friend loved their vegetable garden or allotment you may want to consider a vegetable tribute. These can be very simple, a few home grown veggies taken from the garden as this photo shows or a basket of veg. Florists can also help to arrange a tribute with vegetables. If you choose to leave these at the end of the funeral we know from experience they won't go to waste. They are warmly welcomed by our resident bunnies, but you may want to send family and friends off with some home grown veg.
Let nature inspire you
If you want to leave a something with your family member or friend can leave natural tributes on top of the coffin. In the past we have seen tributes made from metal, wood and rock. We have had wooden boats and woven driftwood hearts. We have also had metal offcuts used as a final farewell for a metalsmith. You can include a favourite wooden sculpture or paper model in place of flowers. You may want to include letters or tie wooden hearts with personal messages to the coffin.
Tributes you can take away
Instead of having a tribute for the funeral, another option is having a something family and friends can take away. This could be a bag of favourite sweets or crisps. A pack of wildflowers, a pot of daffodils or a bee bomb if they loved watching nature. You may want to ask people to take a moment to remember their friend when they are doing something that has special meaning to them. You may also choose to ask there are no flowers, but instead, donations are made to a good cause.
A special goodbye
If you don’t want to use earth, flowers or petals at the committal why not consider something personal like a favourite snack or tipple? We have seen goodbyes where families have sprinkled wine gums and crisps, and even that final cuppa or shot of whisky. You can also let nature inspire you with a few of the ideas below.
Let nature inspire you
There are lots of wonderful ways to say goodbye using the gifts nature has given us. You can use leaves and those who are crafty have turned these into natural confetti. These are beautiful in the autumn colours. Others have used feathers, and for those who believe in angel feathers this can be very meaningful. Spices and herbs are a nice idea, especially for those who loved to cook. Often herbs have their own special meaning. Seashells or sand are a great way to celebrate those that loved the beach or the ocean. Collecting these things for a funeral can be very therapeutic and give you time to breathe.
Pay tribute by following their wishes
Sometimes a tribute is not about what you bring, but what you do. If you have been told a wish this may be the tribute that really matters.
'I don’t want any fuss', 'have a cuppa for me’, 'when all this is done go on my favourite walk and remember me’, ‘look after my dog’, 'place me somewhere natural' or 'be good to each other’.
Sometimes it’s about that special moment that you take away and keep with you.
If you know of any other ideas or have sent someone you love off in a special way that you want to share, please feel leave us a comment. We would love to hear your thoughts.
Stories and thoughts from the Leedam camp.
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