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Planning a memorial for a loved one who has died, is the final chance to honour them and reflect on their life, values and beliefs. This complete guide to planning a memorial can help you to arrange a farewell to celebrate a loved one’s achievements and honour their life, the way it was lived.

As we offer cremations that are unattended, we believe it's important that something is done to honour the deceased person. That’s why we encourage families to hold some form of memorial or ashes scattering ceremony once the ashes are returned.

A memorial can be an opportunity for mourning and reflection, but it doesn’t need to a sombre affair. It’s important to remember there is no one way a loved one must be farewelled. You have the choice to celebrate their life and the character they were.

At Bare we don’t believe there is a single way to say goodbye to a loved one, which is why our Bare Funerals are flexible to ensure you say your farewell in the way that’s right for you and your loved one. We also offer the option to hold a ceremony prior to the cremation with the coffin present in a more traditional style of farewell if that’s what you prefer.

We’ve put together this complete guide to planning a memorial to provide families and friends information on how to send-off for their loved one. This article will guide you through the process of how to plan a memorial service and answer some common questions about memorials.

A cremation-first memorial allows you the time to plan a celebration of life without the rush. If you're interested in a memorial service, head here to learn more or give Bare a call on 1800 071 176.

What’s the difference between a memorial, funeral and wake?

A memorial is a funeral service that takes place without a coffin or casket present. Memorials are usually more celebrations of life, rather than sombre rituals. Family and friends are often encouraged to wear colour at memorials, instead of black or dark colours seen at most funerals.

In the same way that organising any event or celebration, like a birthday or even a wedding is usually done without hiring an official event planner, you don’t need a funeral director to plan a memorial. Arranging all aspects of the memorial service can be done yourself.

How you send-off your dearly departed is entirely your choice. It could be with a BBQ by the beach, beers at the pub and a toast in their honour; or a memorial at a park or favourite family holiday spot.

Traditionally, a wake is held after a formal funeral service. Refreshments are served while friends and family gather to reflect on fond memories of the deceased person. Without a traditional funeral service, those elements of a wake can easily be included as part of a memorial. Did your loved one have a favourite food, sweet, or national cuisine? Why not include catering that reflects the deceased’s favourite food or culture?

Even though the coffin will not be present, you may still wish to have a more formal memorial if it’s fitting to the life being honoured.

How planning memorials and funerals have changed.

As a result of changing preferences, and rising costs, families are moving away from tradition when it comes to planning a memorial or funeral. In fact, almost three quarters (73%) of Aussies say they don't want to be farewelled with a church or religious ceremony, according to a recent study by Australian Seniors.

A private cremation, also known as a direct cremation has also become a fasting-growing trend in the funeral industry. In particular, COVID-19 impacts have forced many people to reconsider how they farewell a loved one. Without the ability to gather in large numbers in a traditional funeral setting, private cremation has become a viable option. But even before the coronavirus, 22% of Australian funerals were direct cremations.

The low fuss, affordable funeral option allows families to arrange a cremation without a traditional funeral church or chapel service. Without the need to involve a funeral home, a direct cremation allows the freedom and flexibility to personalise a loved one’s memorial separately, to match their unique personality – and at a fraction of the price.

You can read more about direct cremations in our article here.

Here's how Australian funeral trends are changing.

7 unique memorial event ideas.

Planning a memorial service is an opportunity to honour your loved one’s life and celebrate their legacy.

When planning a memorial, think about what best reflects a loved one’s unique life. There are no rules. The idea is to reflect someone’s life by getting together and enjoying what they loved.

Below are seven unique memorial event ideas that you might consider after the cremation has taken place. There is no set formula with any of these options, but you might like to include some favourite music, a short eulogy and a few tributes. You can even engage a celebrant to help you plan and officiate the memorial event.

There’s also the option to plan a memorial service that incorporates the scattering of your loved one’s ashes as part of the event.

1. A meal at a favourite restaurant, bar, venue.

Planning a memorial can be as simple as inviting friends and family to share a meal or a few beers at one of your loved one’s favourite pub or restaurant. Sharing memories over a meal keeps it informal and personal.

2. Open house memorial day.

Designating a day or evening where people can drop to at your home as they please, allows the family the freedom and comfort to chat with people as they come. You can have a photo DVD going on loop for people to stop and watch, and photo albums out for people to flip through.

3. Memorial trees: Tree planting ceremony.

Growing a beautiful memory tree, plant, or flowers from the ashes of a loved one can help carry on their memory. Following the memorial service, a biodegradable Living Urn may be placed in the ground with the roots or seeds so that a special tree or shrub may grow in memory of your dearly departed.

You may even like to include a tree-planting ceremony as part of the memorial itself. A tree-planting ceremony is where ashes, are planted in the ground alongside a young memorial tree or shrub. The tree will grow, infused with the ashes of your loved one, to create an enduring memory that can always be revisited.

4. Plan a send-off at a favourite place in nature.

Did your loved one have a favourite place they liked to visit, or somewhere that held significance? You could hold a picnic or BBQ at a favourite park, beach, or holiday spot.

5. Favourite hobby in your loved one’s honour.

If your loved one had a favourite hobby, why not organise a golf day, lawn bowls tournament, bingo or trivia night, or a group trip to the football? Organise a day where you all participate in that hobby in honour of them.

6. Movie night.

Did your loved one have a favourite movie, or is there a movie that reflects their life? Holding a movie night in their honour might be a fitting tribute. Most local cinemas allow private functions so you could book out a cinema. Start the event with some tributes, pop some popcorn, then sit back, relax and watch the movie together.

7. Live music tribute.

Book a group to go see your loved one’s favourite musician or group live. Or hold a private event where you book a cover band or impersonator to perform. If they loved to dance, book a venue and band or DJ, and hold a dance party.

The coronavirus is changing how we farewell a loved one after death, with pub gatherings later on instead of traditional funerals.
Planning a memorial can be as simple as inviting friends and family to share a meal or a few beers at one of your loved one’s favourite pub or restaurant.

How to plan a memorial: Step-by-step guide.

As a Bare Cremation is arranged without an attended ceremony, there is no hearse, flowers, fancy coffin, or a wake. A direct cremation provides families and friends the complete freedom to arrange a personalised memorial ceremony or farewell that’s fitting to their loved one, rather than a service that’s set out by a funeral director.

Despite what the funeral industry has dictated for decades, there are no set rules when it comes to planning a funeral or memorial. A farewell doesn’t need to be a formal ceremony if that’s not what you or your loved one wish. It can be an entirely family-led celebration, or arranged with support from a celebrant.

If you choose a memorial service with Bare, your dedicated event manager can help you plan and facilitate the memorial. They will take care of most of the memorial planning, but how much or how little input you have will be completely up to you.

Whether you are planning a memorial yourself or assisted by a celebrant, here are some things to think about:

1. Determine the type of memorial service that’s most suitable.

The first step of planning a memorial is to consider what type of service or event would make a befitting tribute to send off your loved one.

Whatever your beliefs, a memorial can be an important element in saying goodbye.

However, a farewell doesn’t need to look a particular way. It certainly doesn’t need to look like a traditional service in a funeral parlour. Memorials don’t need to be formal in nature, or follow any set formula.

At Bare, we are passionate about saying goodbye in your own way, so we believe each send-off should be unique to the person who has died. It should also be a reflection of your loved one’s passions, interests or hobbies – be it art, sport, music, movies, travel or something else they loved. Some personalised touches, for example sporting team colours or Star Wars memorabilia, can make the service truly memorable.

Typically, a memorial service includes some form of music, eulogy and tributes, often including a video or photos of fond memories.

Our article 12 ways to personalise a memorial or celebration of life may provide some more inspiration.

For a memorial service, talk to your Bare’s dedicated arranger about what you want the memorial to be. 

2. Consider a celebrant to lead the service.

Working with a funeral celebrant can help to alleviate some of the stress at such an emotional time. For families who would like support in planning a memorial, Bare can pair you with one of our dedicated celebrants. Our celebrant can help plan and conduct a memorial service that truly honours and celebrates your loved one. We’ve hand-selected some of Australia’s best celebrants to partner with, who are committed to providing memorable tributes.

3. Include songs or music for the memorial service.

Music creates a certain atmosphere and sets the scene for a funeral or memorial. Playing a loved one’s favourite song or musician can also add a personal touch to a memorable tribute.

Music to go behind a photographic reflection should reflect life, happy memories, joys of living – this is a time which highlights the deceased’s life so keep that in mind when making a decision.

If you need some more inspiration, read our article on The best songs for funerals and memorials.

We’ve also created the below Spotify Funeral Songs playlist to give you some inspiration.

On the day of the memorial, your Bare event manager will ensure all music and audiovisuals run smoothly.

4. Determine who will give the eulogy and tributes.

The tributes component of a funeral or memorial service usually begins with a eulogy.

A eulogy is a speech given at a memorial or funeral service, usually by a family member or close friend. A eulogy commemorates and celebrates the life of the deceased person. So, sharing a life story gives purpose to that life and communicates a legacy for those they love.

The purpose of writing a eulogy is to tell a person’s life journey, their achievements and triumphs, and describe who they are. But it is also for those listening to learn, to take something away that they can use to live their own lives a little better. Therefore, ensure that your story has some reflection of your loved one’s life that can be a lesson for those listening. The most important thing is to write from your heart and express what means the most to you.

As we mentioned when considering who might lead the memorial service, ensure the person asked to give the eulogy or tributes would feel comfortable to perform the honour, or if it may become too emotional for them.

If you need help writing a eulogy, you can read our article on tips for writing a eulogy, with eulogy examples.

Following the eulogy comes the tributes. Funeral tributes are usually given by the deceased’s children, parents, or other close relative or family member.

Tributes generally add flavour to the deceased’s life story, as described in the eulogy, by sharing an anecdote or cherished memory that captured the loved one’s personality. So consider performing a song, poem, inspirational quote, or prayer if the deceased person was spiritual.

For some inspiration, we've compiled a selection of funeral poems here.

5. Create a memorial video or photo slideshow.

A memorial video with footage or photos, or a slideshow of scrolling pictures, can add a lovely touch to highlight the person’s life and accomplishments. It also creates a focal point for mourners to look without a coffin present.

A photo slideshow can be done simply by a tech-savvy relative or friend by using a computer software program like PowerPoint. Or, if you know someone who is skilled with video editing software, you might ask if they can put together a short clip of home videos. Alternatively, you can always hire a videographer if you want to pay for a professional service, but this can be costly and is not always necessary.

Music to go behind a photographic reflection should celebrate life, happy memories, joys of living – this is a time which highlights the deceased’s LIFE so keep that in mind and don’t make this selection too sad.

You’ll just need to arrange audio-visual components at the venue, including a laptop, projector, screen and an amplifier. If hiring a function space, speak to the venue staff to help arrange this.

6. Consider flowers or charitable donations.

Traditionally, it used to be a mark of respect for mourners attending a funeral to arrange flowers as a tribute to the deceased. But today, it is becoming common for families of the deceased person to request donations to a designated charity as a more fitting way to honour their loved ones.

Did your loved one have a connection to a particular charity or not-for-profit organisation? Perhaps the deceased person was supported through a hospice care service, or some other community or health organisation. A charity memorial in lieu of flowers is a way to say thanks, or to continue research into a particular medical study.

If you would like to request donations in lieu of flowers, you can include this request in any newspaper or social media memorial notice or obituary, along with details of the chosen charity and how to donate. Alternatively, you might encourage mourners to decide on the cause the wish to donate to, individually.

7. Plan what to wear to a memorial.

The focus of a memorial or ‘celebration of life’ is on the loved one’s life, rather than being a sad and sombre element of death. Some families request attendees wear the loved one’s favourite colour, or colours of their sports team. Other times, they might be less specific but just request that mourners dress in bright colours, including bright ties, instead of wearing black. These personalised requests are usually indicated in newspapers or social media memorial announcements.

Requesting specific items or accessories to be worn, like loud ties, crazy socks, or fancy hats, can also help to celebrate your loved one’s personality.

You can read more in our article What to wear to a funeral.

8. Decide on what you’d like done with the ashes.

After the memorial service, you will need to decide on the placement of the cremated ashes. Will you be scattering them at a special place, or will they be stored in an urn or some other memorial keepsake?

Cremation ashes sea scattering memorial
You may wish to make the ashes-scattering ceremony part of the memorial event.

Ashes scattering ceremony.

When arranging a memorial for your loved one, you may wish to make the ashes-scattering ceremony part of the event. Alternatively, you might prefer to hold a more intimate scattering ceremony at a different location later on, perhaps with only immediate family.

Each state and territory has a different regulation about scattering ashes, so you will need to find out what applies in your region. As a general rule, it is wise to get permission from the owners of private land; or local council for parks, beaches and playing fields.

Councils and other government authorities may even set a time and place when these activities can be undertaken and can impose other conditions. Disposal of ashes without consent from appropriate authorities may result in legal proceedings, so it’s important to check if restrictions apply in your state.

You can also read our article on memorials with ashes for more suggestions.

To learn more about personalised memorial ideas, read out article: 10 alternatives to a traditional funeral here.

Plant a memorial tree.

Did your loved one enjoy the garden, or have a special place in their garden. If so why not plant a memorial tree.

The Living Urn enables you to plant a tree, plant or flower easily with your loved one’s remains, to create a special long-lasting memorial.

Memorial keepsakes with ashes.

You can have a piece of your loved one with you at all times by having some of their cremated remains made into personal jewellery pieces.

Memorial jewellery makers Keepsake Jewellery have a range of pendants that open via a small screw to hold a pinch of ashes. Some can even be engraved with your loved one’s photo. Or why not have some of your loved one’s remains turned into diamonds for an everlasting personal keepsake? Heart in Diamond creates beautiful diamonds from your loved one’s hair or ashes so you can hold on to your special memories of them always.

For those looking for a more permanent memorial keepsake, special ink can be made up with some of the ashes for a tattoo. Cremation Ink is one place that can professionally infuse cremated remains into tattoo ink for a permanent memorial you can wear.

Did your loved one have a special love of music? If so, consider having their remains pressed into a special vinyl record with a business called And Vilnyly.

Perhaps a beautiful glass piece created by Australian glassblowers might be more fitting. Memorial Glass, in Healesville, Victoria, creates some stunning pieces.

For a more spectacular visual memorial experience, drone scattering service With The Wind can combine cremated ashes with environmentally-friendly coloured powders. The drone can fly over a beach, farmland, or almost any other location, to release the ashes in a stunning display.

Or go out with a bang, with a personalised Ashes to Ashes firework display.

Drone scattering service With The Wind can combine cremated ashes with environmentally-friendly coloured powders for a spectacular memorial.
Drone scattering service With The Wind can combine cremated ashes with environmentally-friendly coloured powders for a spectacular memorial. Photo: With The Wind

How to make a Facebook memorial page.

A Facebook memorial page is a way for those close to the deceased to remember and celebrate their life after they die. Privacy settings remain the same and friends can still post on the page and tag the deceased person in photos.

A close relative or friend may be entrusted to care for a loved one’s Facebook account after they die. A Facebook legacy contact can manage and moderate tributes on the memorialised profile.

When a person dies, a close friend or relative can make a request to memorialise your Facebook profile. This will turn the Facebook page into a digital memorial, with the word “Remembering” before the deceased’s name. Any photos and posts the person shared in the past will remain visible on their memorial account.

If the deceased person was organised, they may have already nominated a person as their legacy contact. This can be done in Facebook’s General Account Settings, in the section called Memorialization Settings.

To request to delete or memorialise a loved one’s Facebook profile after a death, you’ll need to contact Facebook and provide some details. You will be also required to supply a copy of the death certificate.

You can send a request for Facebook to memorialise or delete a loved one’s profile here.

You can read more about what happens to social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn, after death in our article Social Media Afterlife here.

Final thoughts on planning a memorial.

Planning a memorial, or end-of-life service, is a way to say “thank you” to someone special for their unique life. So when it comes to their final farewell, you have the freedom to go your own way. Bare allows the freedom to arrange a personalised send-off, memorial, or ceremony that truly celebrates a person’s unique life and character.

At Bare, we’re passionate about empowering Australians to truly “go your own way”. It is one of the last physical acts you can do for someone to ensure their life is recognised and remembered.  Our Bare Funerals are flexible to ensure you say your farewell in the way that’s right for you and your loved one. Whether that’s a more traditional funeral service, or a memorial service, the choice ultimately depends on the individual and family.

Adding personal touches to the memorial - like a favourite song, wearing the deceased person’s favourite colours, or including other elements - will help to celebrate the things they loved and create a meaningful and lasting remembrance. The most important thing to keep in mind when planning a memorial is the nature of the person being farewelled and the nature of their relationship with those saying goodbye. Remember that funerals don’t need to be done a particular way, or cost a fortune.

Let us create a memorial that celebrates your loved one’s life, so you don’t have to stress about the planning. At Bare, we don’t believe there is a single way to say goodbye to a loved one, we also offer more traditional funerals if a memorial isn’t right for you. Give us a call on 1800 071 176 or head to our Funeral Services page to learn more about our memorials or funerals.