12 Outdoor Funeral Ideas
Holding a funeral outdoors is a great way to abide by COVID-19 restrictions and suggestions while still being able to share a difficult time with your friends and family. Here are some creative (and often meaningful) places to hold an outdoor funeral, memorial service or celebration of life for someone who has passed away.
1. By a lake or beach
Many families enjoy the water and lots of people have a favorite beach or lake that they visit regularly. Holding a service near the lake or a beach is a great way to celebrate your loved one’s life while enjoying beautiful scenery. Try to pick a day that’s warmer in weather so that attendees aren’t uncomfortable during the service. You’ll also want to stake out an area beforehand so that your spot isn’t taken on arriving, especially if you’re picking a popular public area.
2. On a boat
If your loved one was someone who enjoyed the water, consider holding a memorial service on a boat, especially if it’s on their favorite body of water. Holding the service on a boat limits the amount of people who can attend, but can be a great way to remember your loved one. Holding a memorial service on a boat is also a wonderful opportunity to combine it with a scattering of the ashes ceremony. Many families also hold burials at sea for their loved ones which are services that take place on a boat.
3. At a favorite hiking spot
During COVID-19, holding a memorial service outdoors in a wide area helps stop the spread of the disease. Holding a memorial service in an outdoor hiking spot is an excellent way to honor someone who loved the outdoors while providing everyone attending with ample space. You can stop at different places throughout the hike to share favorite stories or memories, or organize it so that the service only starts when everyone reaches the designated area. (If planning a memorial service at a hiking spot, keep in mind those that are attending since they may not be able to make the full trek -- picking an accessible spot for all involved is a great way to be inclusive.) Alternatively, you could hold the service at the start of a trail and then those who are able to can hike it after.
4. In someone’s backyard
Holding a memorial service in a loved one’s backyard is an easy (and less expensive) way to gather your loved ones for a memorial service. Keep in mind that capacity restrictions may be in place where you live due to COVID-19 which can affect your memorial service crowd size. (Even if there are no restrictions in place, it’s a good idea to limit the amount of attendees.)
5. In a public park
Public parks serve as excellent places to hold a celebration of life or memorial service, especially when they’re one that was close to your loved one’s heart. You can look up public parks in your neighborhood or hold the funeral service at a park that is dear to your family.
6. At a community center
Hosting a funeral at a community center is a lower cost option, as most community centers rent out spaces for events for a cheaper price than other venues. Choose a community center that was either special to your loved one or one that’s nearest the majority of attendees for ease of access.
7. At a favorite outdoor restaurant
Did your loved one have a favorite restaurant that they were a regular at? Maybe a restaurant that they’d attend on anniversaries? Or even a place they’d never been, but wanted to go to? Consider holding the celebration of life at an outdoor restaurant that provides a nice ambience and setting to all those attending. You’ll want to make sure you speak to the restaurant owner beforehand to reserve the space for when you need it.
8. At the cemetery
Graveside services are a popular and common part of many funeral services. If you’re interested, you can hold an entire funeral service at the graveside without having it be saved for the last part of the service. Graveside services help you avoid transportation costs and venue costs while providing ample space and outdoor room for a larger service.
9. In a public garden
Gardens are beautiful places to hold memorial services, especially if they were important to the person who passed away. Most public gardens have ample space for large groups, but it’s a good idea to speak with the public garden staff to see if it’s possible to reserve the space. While at a public garden, you could incorporate readings in different areas or direct people to walk through special spots of the garden that meant something to your loved one.
10. In a sports stadium
For those who were involved in sports or loved sports, having a funeral in a stadium or sports center can be a unique experience. You can take the sports theme further by asking attendees to wear a piece of clothing related to your loved one’s favorite sports team (or the team that they participated on). Sports stadiums also give ample space for a large number of attendees, making this a good choice for those expecting a larger crowd.
11. At a golf course or country club
In a similar vein to sports stadiums, holding a funeral on a golf course is an easy way to honor the deceased’s passion for golfing while holding the funeral in a serene and beautiful outdoor setting. Many golf courses have ponds or lakes near them, which could be a good place to set up for speakers and readings to take place. Make sure you speak with the golf course staff to see what the possibilities are and what restrictions they may have for holding a service on the golf course. Country clubs often offer spaces or venues you can rent out to hold a private gathering, so speak to your local country club (or the one the deceased was a part of) for more information.
12. At a campsite
If your loved one was a fan of the outdoors and you feel like having an extended memorial, you can plan a short camping trip at one of their favorite sites. This gives you time to bring food and join in community surrounding the loss of a loved one. Consider asking folks to bring dishes or ingredients for favorite camping dishes your loved one enjoyed. You can plan a trip around the camping grounds and go on the favorite trails or hikes that your loved one was a fan of. You can also set aside a set time where you come together and remember the individual who passed so that those uninterested in staying overnight can visit during that set time.
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