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A funeral or memorial service is a way of gathering loved ones together to start the grieving process. Unfortunately, there are times when you may not know that a funeral is happening or you aren’t invited to the funeral. Maybe you just can’t attend the funeral for personal reasons. That doesn’t mean you can’t honor the deceased. It means that you may have to be creative about it.

Be Wise About Attending or Not Attending a Funeral

In some cases, family of the deceased may ask you not to attend a funeral. This may hurt, but be sensitive to the family. In other cases, you may have had a complicated relationship with the deceased or the family and want to stay away to avoid impropriety. If you have concerns about how others may view your presence at a funeral, it is OK to stay away to reduce the potential for drama.

Share Your Grief With Your Loved Ones

If you aren’t welcome at a funeral, that doesn’t mean you won’t grieve the person’s death. Funerals offer support to those who are mourning the loss. Since you won’t have that avenue, you need to gather your own friends and family around to help you mourn. You may not be able to attend the funeral, but you can have your own private ceremony with your loved ones to help you through your grief. Light a candle while reading a eulogy to the deceased. Play music that reminds you of the deceased. Self-reflect on your relationship with the deceased, much like you would if you attended the funeral.

Visit the Burial Site at Another Time

A cemetery is a public space. It’s acceptable to visit the gravesite after the funeral when the family isn’t there. Check with the cemetery to find out if you can leave flowers or other mementos at the site. Say a prayer or have a short reading while you visit. Bring another friend with you to support you. Go out for a favorite meal after you go to the burial site.

Volunteer or Donate Money in the Deceased’s Name

Give your time or money to a charity in honor of the deceased. You can make a difference without anyone having to know that you are doing it to remember the relationship you had. Check the obituary to learn if the deceased had any final wishes for donations. If not, choose a charity that hits close to home.

Let Yourself Grieve

Spend some time with your thoughts about the deceased. Allow yourself time to feel the emotions you’re having. Write a letter to the person. You don't have to share it with anyone, but words on paper can help you reflect on your relationship to make peace with how things turned out. Create a memory book or other memento of the memories of your relationship with the deceased.

Consider If You Should Send Flowers

It’s traditional to send flowers when someone dies. When you’ve had a complicated relationship with the survivors, you may question whether it’s a good idea. It can be very difficult to know the best course of action. If family has asked you to stay away from the funeral, flowers may not be welcome either. However, flowers could also be a way to open the door to a conversation to make amends later. If you believe that sending a gift or card to the family may be hurtful, don’t do it. Send flowers to someone else who needs to know you love them.   A funeral isn’t the time to open old conflicts. If you must take the high road to respect the family’s wishes, do so with grace and dignity to honor the deceased. But don’t forget to grieve your loss.

Category: Funeral

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