With current restrictions limiting the number of people that can attend funerals and burials, we know that some families are choosing to have a memorial service at a later date for all their family and friends. We are fortunate that we can offer families an intimate funeral at present, with plans to arrange a memorial service at the natural burial when larger gatherings are once again safe. For those who are thinking of arranging a memorial, we wanted to share with you our 'top 10 ideas for a natural burial memorial'.
1) Memorial Candle Lighting
A memorial candle lighting is a great way to give family and friends the chance to say a personal goodbye. It’s also reminds us that the people we love shine on in us, and our memories. There are many ways to make a candle lighting personal and it can be a focal point of a memorial service, or something you ask family and friends to do in their own time after the ceremony has ended. You do need to make sure that a venue or natural burial can offer a candle lighting ceremony with real flames, but there are lots of ways this can be done safely including using jars for tea lights which family and friends can bring and decorate themselves. This is also a great way to include children in the candle lighting. If you can't have real flames there are always the option of LED tea lights which look beautiful and have the same symbolic meaning.
2) Memorial Picnic
A memorial picnic is a great idea that can be held at any of our natural burial grounds. You can arrange for the picnic to start before the ceremony so people are comfortable with a drink beforehand, or have a memorial service followed by a picnic as a 'picnic wake'. You may want to ask family and friends to bring their a blanket and picnic basket, order in pizza, fish and chips, or arrange a spread that everyone can share. It's a very relaxed and personal way to raise a glass, remember and celebrate the people we love, in beautiful surroundings.
3) Memorial Seed Scatter
place A memorial seed scatter is a simple ceremony where family and friends take a packet or a handful of seeds and scatter them in memory of the person they love. This may be to say goodbye, or it may be in remembrance and thankfulness. It may be something that can take by the grave itself or at a designated area. A memorial with a seed scatter may not be available at all natural burials or a certain seed mix may be required to ensure native and safe flowers are used, but if you can't scatter seeds at the burial ground itself family and friends can take away seed packets to scatter in their gardens. There are some lovely wildflowers seeds that you can personalise down to the print on the packet and mix of seeds.
4) Memorial with a Memorial Plaque or Memorial Stone
We understand the importance of having somewhere you can go to remember and see the names of those you love, but instead of having large expensive memorials that require regular upkeep, we offer simple natural memorials. The placing of a memorial stone or plaque is something that could be a special part of a memorial service with family and friends. It gives them a moment to remember and say goodbye but also gives family and friends a place they can return to, which they feel a connection with. At the burial grounds in Usk, and Cardiff we have beautiful oak plaques in our memorial shelters. At the natural burial grounds in Aylesbury, Henley and Bath we have natural slate memorial plaques. At our woodland burial grounds at Hundy Mundy, Delliefure, and Cothiemuir Hill families can choose to place a memorial stone. We will also be offering plaques at Pembrokeshire in the near future.
5) Memorial Tree Planting
While we do not offer memorial tree planting at all of our natural burial grounds, this is one of the special ceremonies you could include in a memorial service at Bath, Aylesbury, Pembrokeshire and Cothiemuir Hill. It is an idea family and friends can get involved in by simply sprinkling earth or water on the tree and it can be a focal point of a memorial service. You may even find a type tree with a really special meaning behind it. If it's not something we can offer another option may be to do this t home or at a place that is special to you following a memorial service at the burial meadow, but explain that this is something you will be doing later as part of the memorial service.
6) Pet Friendly Memorial
So many of our families choose to have a natural burial because they love nature, animals, and going out in the countryside for walks, including with their four-legged family. All of our natural burials are pet friendly and another special way you can bring a very personal element to a memorial is to let people know that you are having a pet-friendly memorial. Animals can be very therapeutic when we are grieving and you could even organise a memorial dog walk around the natural burial or local area. Some of our natural burials even have a woodland trail or walk that can be used. However pet-friendly memorials don't have to just be focused on dogs, we have had many animals included in services at the burial grounds including horses and other beloved pets.
7) Memorial with an Interment of Ashes
For those who have chosen to have a cremation with a natural interment another idea that we can offer at our natural burial grounds is to have the interment of ashes as part of your memorial service. You may have chosen 'direct cremation' and to postpone the funeral service so it can be held with the ashes interment at the natural burial when everyone can attend. You may also have chosen to have a service at the crematorium with close family, but would like to follow this with an interment of ashes memorial service at the natural burial when all your family and friends can attend. You can make an interment of ashes memorial at a natural burial ground very personal and special.
8) Memorial with a Scatter of Ashes
For some families, we know that they would prefer to have a natural scatter of ashes following cremation at the crematorium. Those those wanting a memorial service at a later date, can make this a special part of the memorial itself if they wish.
Families can arrange a memorial scattering of ashes our woodland burial grounds in Delliefure Cairngorms, Cothiemuir Hill and Hundy Mundy. We can also offer ashes scattering in the orchard or burial meadow at Bath, and in the burial meadow, copse and beautiful scatter pond (shown to the left) at Aylesbury. At Cardiff, families can scatter on graves or in the scatter area. Ashes scatter is also available at Pembrokeshire in the newly created 'wild cherry scatter area' which is just establishing itself, or across the meadow.
9) Memorial Service with a Memorial Book
If you would like to add a simple personal element to a natural memorial a great way to do this is to have a memorial book. You can get memorial books personalised or alternatively find a blank book that reminds you of a special memory. You can easily have a memorial book signing at a natural burial ground and can ask family and friends to write their own messages or share a story or memory. It's a lovely way to find out things you may never have known, but also to see how the person you are celebrating has been a special part of other peoples lives. It can be made even more personal by placing an item that reminds you of something they loved beside the memory book.
10) Marquee Wake and Memorial at the Natural Burial
If you have decided to have a small intimate funeral with close family, but would like to have a memorial and wake/party at a later date when family and friends can attend another great idea is to have the memorial service as part of the wake. Something we can offer is a memorial service with marquee wake at the natural burial itself. This is perfect for families who want a memorial and wake surrounded by beautiful countryside, close to nature and the grave of their loved one. We may also be able to offer venues that are local to the natural burial such as Keig Kirk close to Cotheimuir Hill and the Tithe Barn and The Castle Green at Usk Castle which can both be hired for memorial services and wakes and which allow families the option of visiting the natural burial at the same time.
You could also combine these ideas if you decided you wanted to bring together several personal elements to a natural memorial service. We are sure there are many other ideas that we may not have mentioned and would love to hear about your ideas and experiences in the comments. Hopefully, this helps if you are planning a memorial service after the restrictions of COVID 19 and the Coronavirus Pandemic have been lifted, or if you are planning a memorial service in general. You can find out more about natural burials here.
Stories and thoughts from the Leedam camp.
We'd love to hear what you have to say. Use the 'add comment' button at the bottom of each post or contact us here.
You can also find us on facebook and twitter, where we engage in debates, post updates about the burial grounds and more.