What To Do When There is No Funeral

no funeralA Wish for No Funeral or Memorial Service

Planning a funeral or memorial service for a recently departed loved one is an emotionally and physically challenging task for all the family members involved. It takes a lot of planning, coordinating and work to get everything put together quickly and get the word out efficiently. Some might think then, that forgoing a service altogether might be more convenient and less of a burden on a family.  But when your loved one clearly states they want nothing to do with a ceremony or anything associated with a funeral, what do you do then?

Some industry insiders have recently reported a surge of last wishes being that the deceased does not want a funeral or memorial service following their cremation; simply a family gathering after the cremation in order to scatter the ashes. While this can be somewhat of a relief for the family, who no longer has to plan a service or be saddled with the financial burden of a death, there still remains the question of how people that aren’t immediate family can pay respects.

Paying Your Respects When There is No Funeral

While your loved one may have meant their request to lessen the stress on the family or release the community from some need to attend a memorial service, many people feel the need to gather to celebrate someone’s life and mourn their death. What you can do in this case is respectfully let friends know the deceased did not want a service, but if a group of people want to get together for a luncheon or a night at their favorite watering hole, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

When you offer suggestions like this or have various events for a week or two after your family member’s death, you get a chance to meet up with a variety of friends, and share their life stories with many of them. You are also honoring your loved one’s wishes by not having a formal ceremony.

Alternative Ways to Honor a Loved One When There is No Funeral

If some friends are disappointed because they won’t be able to honor your loved one by attending the funeral, choose a charity that they can donate to on your family member’s behalf. This allows their friends to do something charitable and honor the deceased without forcing you to go against the wishes expressly set forth.

While foregoing a funeral is still not by any means the norm, there are ways to still mourn the loss as a community without going against the last requests of your loved one. If you would like other information or ideas on memorializing your loved one, head to the memorial section of our blog.


Memorial Ideas for a Loved One


8 Responses to “What To Do When There is No Funeral”

  1. From Scott

    When I die, I don’t want any kind of funeral or memorial service. I want direct cremation and then would like my ashes spread in a vacant lot or some kind of forest or something — no special place. This can be done very cheaply and easily with no hassle to those left behind.

  2. From Pat Starr

    I guess my friend didn’t want anything big like a funeral in Toronto. It’s alright though, there are many ways you can remember and honor those that have past away without a funeral service.

  3. From Robert Price

    I was a boyfriend 40 years ago of a lady that was married and just passed away. She was cremated and her ashes ‘scattered at sea’. Is it appropriate for me to ask the family where the ashes were scattered. I think they consider old boyfriends somewhere beneath regular friends, especially since it was my idea to originally break up.

  4. From Une Belle Vie Customer Service

    Thank you for your thoughtful question. This is definitely a sensitive situation. If you were closest with one member of her family, I think it is OK to reach out to them and say something similar to: “I am so sorry for your loss. I would love to pay my respects and say goodbye to my long-time friend. Can you please tell me where her ashes were scattered? If you are not comfortable telling me, I completely understand.”

  5. From Nick

    Neither my spouse nor I have the slightest interest in a funeral either for ourselves of for the other one. Our problem is that we have absolutely no idea how to go about arranging that here in Scotland. Where does one go in order to arrange for the body to be taken away and disposed of?

  6. From Une Belle Vie Customer Service

    Hi Nick –
    Being located in the United States, our knowledge of the regulations in Scotland are a bit limited. Although, it sounds like you should look into afterlife planning to up a will that states your wishes, and ensures that they are adhered to. The estate / afterlife planner (also called pre-planning) should be able to help you determine how the body can be handled within your country regulations, as well as include those details in the documentation.

    We spoke with quite a few afterlife planners and shared their thoughts in the following article. We hope it’s a good starting point for you:

    Additionally, you might want to consider including your wishes for any type of memorial service, which is for the mourners and helps them handle their grief. It doesn’t have to be a somber gathering, and can even be a festive time to share memories as part of the grieving process. This article goes into a bit more detail on the subject:

  7. From Chase

    My mother passed away and asked for no funeral or burial. We did as she asked and met her wishes, but I will tell you as an adult child of someone who wants that, it has been very hard. I saw my mother pass… and that was it. It took me many months to really start to feel the loss. It wasn’t as real. I guess in my head I could just tell myself she was away on vacation or somewhere i couldn’t reach her. I don’t know that it would have been more “final” to have a funeral or burial but I imagine it a would have helped the grieving process. Anyways good luck to all and I hope you make the best decision for you and your family.

  8. From Helen

    I too just lost a loved one who requested there be no service. In the past, the loved ones I lost had viewings and funerals, and I usually was unable to cry until those happened. Now without those I feel like I’m in limbo. We’re going to have a memorial brunch in a few weeks, but it’s meant to be a cheery occasion. I’d like that feeling of standing shoulder to shoulder with friends and family, singing in the pews, it feels like a critical part of the process to me, and I just don’t know what to do without it.

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