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A good send-off: Creative ideas for a special funeral

Rainbow coloured flowers

More and more people are embracing unusual and poignant ideas for funerals. Unique personalised touches can be a fitting way to say goodbye to someone special.

Or you may be looking ahead to your own funeral. Communicating your funeral wishes to family members will help them when the time comes, as well as offering you a chance to decide how you wish to be remembered.

Here are 10 unusual and thoughtful funeral ideas that may inspire you, for your loved one’s funeral or your own.

1. Hand out seed cards

Blue forget me not flowers

Seed cards are a special way to remember the person who has passed away, especially if they were an avid gardener. The card can be personalised and contains seeds for guests to grow their own plant as a tribute. Common choices are forget-me-nots. These small blue flowers are easy to grow and maintain, and are a famous symbol of remembrance. Another option is tree seedlings, as these will provide a longer lasting tribute.

There are many companies who make personalised seed cards for different occasions and orders can often be placed online. Your funeral director may also be able to provide this service, or put you in contact with a company who can.

2. Re-use funeral flowers

Woman using modelling clay

If you have arranged a funeral before, you will know that often there are more funeral flowers than you know what to do with, and it can be a shame to throw them away. Some people choose to disassemble the arrangements and re-group them into posies. These can be given to guests as a way of saying thank you for their support.

Another option is to make the flowers into jewellery. This is easier than it sounds. You will need translucent polymer clay, which you can buy from arts and crafts shops or online. Knead the clay until soft, then sprinkle in dried flower petals and knead again until the petals are worked into the clay. Then you can shape the beads as you want, using wire to create holes for threading. Bake in the oven according to the instructions on the clay packet. Once the beads are baked and cool, you can thread them together to make necklaces or bracelets. You could give these out to friends and family as gifts of remembrance, and keep one for yourself.

3. Give away books

Collection of books

If your loved one was a bookworm, you might be left with an extensive library that, unfortunately, you can’t find a home for. One way to share their love for books is to hand out their collection at the funeral – this way people will have an appropriate memento to enjoy in their memory.

You could even order personalised book plates or stickers to place on the inside cover of each book, commemorating your loved one.

4. Choose a personalised casket

Coffin in Liverpool Football Club colours

People are becoming increasingly creative with coffin and casket choices as a way of celebrating a person’s life and their interests.

Some coffin-makers specialise in colourful and patterned coffins, with a vast range of designs, from flowers, butterflies and stars, to music-themed designs, national flags and animals. Some companies even allow you to custom design a coffin with a specific image.

Another option is choosing a plain coffin and inviting close friends and family members to decorate it with drawings or messages for their loved one. You could use permanent marker pens, paint, crayons or stickers. Some people find that being closely involved in such a way helps them understand the grief they are feeling and say goodbye to their loved one.

5. Consider a glass keepsake

Blue and silver glass orb

A recent innovation allows artisan glass blowers to incorporate small portions of ashes into their creations, for an unusual and beautiful tribute.

An increasing number of funeral directors are able to offer this service, with a wide choice of colours and designs. Glass spheres are popular, with bright, shimmering colours that reflect the light. You can also get glass pendants for keepsake necklaces.

6. Personalise the order of service

Pile of pink order of service booklets

Order of service booklets are often handed out at funerals. Most commonly they are quite plain, with perhaps one photograph on the front cover. However, these booklets are another opportunity to personalise the funeral.

The cover could be a collage of many different photographs of the person who has passed away. You might even add captions to each photo to explain where and when it was taken. Not only will this look colourful, it will also serve as a unique keepsake for the mourners to take away. Mourners who are not close friends or family may not have access to photographs of the person who has passed away, so this is a fitting way to share memories of them with everyone in the congregation.

Most funeral directors are able to assist with the ordering and printing of funeral stationery – ask them what options are available.

7. Organise a firework display

Red and gold firework in the sky

Some people are choosing to make funerals a ‘celebration of life’, including music, dancing, and even firework displays.

A firework display can be a fitting tribute to someone who you will remember as bright and beautiful – just be sure to either organise it through a qualified display team or follow all safety advice for lighting your own fireworks.

To take it one step further, you can now also have cremation ashes put into fireworks for a truly dazzling and triumphant way to scatter ashes. While it’s certainly not for everyone, this is a final farewell that no one will forget.

8. Create a memory board

Collection of old photographs

Use a freestanding noticeboard to create a collage of photographs to display at the funeral and wake. This creates a place for mourners to come together and share memories.

You could expand this idea by providing labels or cards for guests to write on and add to the board. They could leave memories, messages, or even write down their favourite things about the person who has passed away.

After the wake the family can save the photographs and messages in a photo album as a lasting memorial.

9. Get creative with the transport

A motorbike hearse. Photo by Sarah Gath Photo by Sarah Gath

Black motor hearses may be traditional, but you may feel that something a little more special than a standard funeral car is in order . Fortunately, funeral directors are starting to offer a wider range of transport options to match the personality of your loved one.

Among the newer, more unusual types are the VW camper van hearse and the motorbike hearse. Another option is the bicycle hearse, which may be ideal if you are planning a green funeral. Using a bicycle cuts down on carbon emissions, making the funeral as eco-friendly as possible.

10. Don’t be afraid to be colourful

Bright pink flower arrangement in a cemetery

It is becoming more and more common for people to request ‘anything but black’ for a funeral, whether that’s the dress code, hearse or casket.

You can ask mourners to wear bright colours, or an item of a particular colour, if your loved one had a favourite. Alternatively, you could hand out flowers of their favourite colours at the entrance to the funeral service. These could then be placed onto the coffin before burial or mourners could take them home as a keepsake.