5 Perfectly Good Reasons To Wait To Have A Funeral For Your Loved One

Photo: Kzenon /
four people walking away from a funeral

The planning of a memorial service can be overwhelming.

Especially immediately following the passing of a loved one.

The person orchestrating everything — whether closest friend or family member — might be flooded with phone calls, direct messages, and cards in the mail.

While the show of sympathy is something to be cherished, when the calls stop and kind words cease, it’s still a lot.

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Five reasons it's OK to delay a memorial service after the passing of a loved one

1. You just need more time.

I want you to know that it’s perfectly okay to hold a gathering weeks, months, or even years after a passing. Between the balancing act that is life and wanting to feel emotionally ready to begin planning, there are many reasons one might delay a memorial service.

Only you, family, and  friends can decide what matters most in honoring your loved one and how much time you need to do so. In other words, there is no right or wrong when it comes to setting a date for a memorial service. 

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2. Dealing with the effects of the post-pandemic regroup.

If you struggled during the pandemic to plan the celebration of life service, know that you are not alone. What were once relatively simple ideas, such as gathering together to assemble a photo collage, became nearly impossible tasks. 

Couple that with the uncertainty of when life would return to its new normal — you have unstable grounds on which to plan a memorial service. 

Many families are just now getting the chance to plan the memorial service that would have otherwise taken place over the last two years. Whether the services are in-person or virtual, it is never “too late” or “not socially acceptable” to hold a service years later.

Take this as an opportunity to choose a date of significance (i.e., birthday or anniversary), feel less rushed in gathering material from family or friends for the memorial, and gain the participation of all those your loved one would want present. 

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3. It is a delicate balancing act.      

Creating a personalized memorial service requires a lot of personal attention. But so do many other things in life, such as arranging childcare, caring for your sick or elderly family members, and other important commitments.

Traditionally, a funeral and burial were held immediately following a death and forced us into a somewhat rushed planning process. Today, memorial services and celebrations of life do not need to be held immediately after a loved one’s cremation or burial.6 Brut

Many families are choosing to hold a gathering weeks or months after a passing. Giving yourself more time can give you breathing room to plan with undivided attention, as well as the opportunity for attendees to save the date far in advance. 

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4. You are not yet emotionally present. 

It is not at all unusual for someone to feel they are not yet emotionally ready to take on a detailed planning process immediately following the death of their loved one. Memorials can be an uplifting celebration of a life well-lived.

If you would like to plan an uplifting gathering for your loved one but are not yet ready to enter into a celebratory mindset, that’s okay. Your friends, family, and trusted professionals can help when you are ready. 

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5. To properly tell their story.

Many of the families I’ve worked with have shared with us that they want to take joy in the process of planning a gathering that will honor and celebrate their loved one’s legacy. If this resonates with you, give yourself time to take a storytelling approach to planning.

It will be comforting to know that on the day of the memorial, you have included everything you wanted to celebrate their unique life with a completely customized service. In the meantime, you can use tools such as a memorial webpage to allow family and friends to express their condolences.

If you hold an intimate burial service, approach a future-dated memorial service as a community gathering of all the people your loved one would have wanted present. Whichever path you choose, give yourself the patience and grace to move at the pace that feels right for you. 

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Alexandra Koys is the Founder of Lighten Arrangements. She specializes in transforming the traditional funeral process to an uplifting, light celebration of life and guiding people through properly honoring loved ones.

This article was originally published at Lighten's Blog. Reprinted with permission from the author.