Memorial ritual enhancements

Memorial ritual enhancements

Following on from our post on holding personal memorial ceremonies in your own homes, we wanted to give you some ideas for rituals that you could incorporate into these services or hold on to for an anniversary perhaps. Symbolic rituals can assist in expressing grief and allowing a shared experience for friends and family, something that might have been limited during the lockdown restrictions.


Candle Lighting 

This is one of the most recognisable rituals used in many ceremonies but also for the purpose of memorials. A burning candle symbolises the memories of your loved one that still live on and burn bright. You can get special candles made with pictures or a favourite quote or just use a plain candle, kept in a specific place perhaps.

Firelight at dusk

This is a similar sentiment to candle lighting but traces back to the idea of a Viking style funeral pyre. Light a fire (safely in a fire pit/basket) at dusk, family and friends can write letters or memories to the deceased and burn them, allowing the sentiments and memories to go to the atmosphere in a cloud of smoke. This can be accompanied by organised chanting or plain old singing of songs that were loved by the deceased and family.

Tree planting

This can also be used in a variety of ceremonies but in terms of memorial, a planted tree or flower will be a living memorial to your loved one. If a cremation has already taken place, you may wish to use the ashes as part of the planting process using a biodegradable urn. You could also provide seeds or cuttings from the main plant/tree for other friends or family members to plant for themselves. Another way to include attendees would be to have them each place a handful of soil on the roots/into the pot.

Flowers/Memorial stones

Each attendee could bring a flower to form a large bunch which can be put on the final resting place by the family. If a ceremony is held in a cemetery, flower petals could be scattered on the grave. Stones with names (and/or messages) from attendees could be left on resting place or scattered.

Bell ringing

Everyone in attendance could take turns to ring a bell to ‘call’ or say ‘goodbye’ to the deceased. Or everyone could have small bells which can be rung at the beginning and/or end of readings or eulogies and as a final goodbye at the end of the ceremony.

There are so many more options out there for ways to individualise your service and remember your loved one in the most appropriate way. Whenever you are ready to discuss your memorial service requirements, get in touch with one of our Ethical Celebrants here.

Written by Ethical Celebrants;  Rita Crampton and Helena Murphy.

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