Mourning When There Is No Funeral Service September 7, 2022

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How does someone handle mourning when there is no funeral service or celebration of life event? Like so many topics surrounding grief, there is no one right answer. But there are ways to mourn, even if services aren’t held. Keep reading to learn more.

Why Is Grieving Harder Without a Funeral?

Funeral services are important because they allow people to come together to share their feelings and emotions surrounding a loved one’s death. Traditionally, funeral services and celebration of life events are held to both honor a loved one and to give space to those who survive to share their grief. At Bateman-Allen Funeral Home, we’ve been helping people during their most difficult days of loss and grief since 1950. Let us help you, too. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and can be reached at 610-876-5237.

These events, especially funeral services, are often planned in accordance with religious convictions and traditions. This provides another commonality among those attending. Many people find solace in shared traditions and beliefs, and feel more accepted sharing their feelings among people who share the same faith. 

This is not to say that religious convictions are the only ways that people connect. That’s especially true when a loved one dies. Even if loved ones have different beliefs, they can connect through their shared feelings of love for others, their involvement in the community, or common interests.

When thinking about mourning when there is no funeral service, one has to think about alternative ways to process and share grief.  When a funeral or celebration of life isn’t held, it can be particularly difficult for family and friends to mourn the loss of their loved one. Not only can we feel unmoored by the lack of a service (something most of us are accustomed to), but we might feel as if we’re left alone to navigate our grief. That can be particularly difficult. 

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If there won’t be a funeral or other service after a loved one’s death, consider the following options as a way to help process grief and mourning when there is no funeral: 

Consider a virtual gathering. Even if you’re not in the same physical space as others, hearing others speak and seeing their faces on a screen can help you connect. You might plan an actual virtual service, or you can opt for a less formal gathering. If you choose the latter, you can simply share stories of your loved one, talk about how you’re feeling, or listen to music that everyone finds comforting. There truly are no rules, which means you can create the kind of gathering that will best suit you and those you invite.

Write your loved one a letter. If there’s no option for a gathering with other people, consider writing a letter to the deceased. Tell them what you would have said, would there have been a service. Or tell them what you’d wished you’d said before they passed. The beauty with writing a letter to a loved one who has passed on is that you can write anything you need or want to. You can also write a single letter or an ongoing letter; whatever suits your wishes. Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you process grief and is more cathartic than simply thinking about your loved one.

Create a yearly event to remember your loved one. Rituals can help us grieve and process our feelings because they provide stability and certainty, even when life seems chaotic and stressful. By creating a yearly ritual, you are creating space for you to remember and celebrate your loved one, no matter what life throws your way. This could be as simple as going to your church to light a candle, or visiting their grave to leave flowers. Or you could decide to have a gathering with friends and family, volunteer at a charity that was important to your loved one, or travel to a place they’d always wanted to see. No matter what you choose to do, making a habit of holding space for those memories consistently can help you process the grief you will likely feel even years after a loved one’s passing. 

Reach out. There’s no rule that says a memorial has to be attended by groups of people. If you know one other person who will mourn the loss of your loved one and you feel safe doing so, reaching out to just one person can help. It can help you because you will be able to talk about and process the loss of someone you love. But it can also help the person you reach out to, because they likely need to do the same. Even just having a conversation about how you’re feeling and how you miss your loved one can help. It doesn’t need to be planned and there’s no rule on how long the chat needs to be. But making an effort to call or talk to others can help you feel less alone as you grieve.

Donate to a charity. Often, when we grieve the loss of a loved one, we feel as if we have no control in life. One way to help with that is to take action: call someone to talk, plan a group outing, or get active in the community. If you truly don’t have anyone you feel comfortable talking with about the death of your loved one, you can find a greater purpose in knowing that you’re helping others with your donation of time or money.

None of this is to say that there is one way to handle mourning when there is no funeral or celebration of life service. These are simply alternative options to consider.

Remember There Is No One Way to Grieve

What matters most is that you remember that there is no one correct way to grieve. Bateman-Allen Funeral Home has worked with families for more than 50 years and knows that everyone’s experience of losing a loved one is different. We pride ourselves in helping people in every stage of grief, and we’re here to answer questions or help you plan a funeral service in Brookhaven. Please reach out if we can help.