Planning a Winter Funeral
Most funeral plans and traditions assume death occurs in an environment that is green, warm, and filled with the blooms of spring. Although just as many deaths occur in the cold winter months, depictions of funerals and cemeteries tend to showcase good weather as the setting for your final farewells.
It can be difficult to evoke the right feeling of mourning when everyone is bundled up in colorful parkas or when you have to delay burial because of the frozen ground. With these funeral planning tips, you may be able to embrace the atmosphere by taking advantage of the colors, sentiments, and setting of winter instead of fighting against the weather.
- White Funeral Clothes Instead of Black: In some cultures, it is normal to wear white for mourning instead of black. Rather than having everyone wear dark, somber colors, make the most of the season by encouraging white clothes or the colors of the holidays.
- Winter Plants Instead of Funeral Flowers: It can be costly (and bad for the environment) to import exotic blooms during the winter months. Skip the traditional funeral flowers in favor of ferns, evergreen boughs, or potted plants.
- “Cozy” Funeral Keepsakes: Many people like to hand out seed packets, tree seedlings, and other “life-affirming” favors at a funeral. In winter, these items are more likely to be set aside and lost than put to good use. Instead of handing out mom’s favorite flower seeds, consider giving away packets of her favorite hot chocolate mix or her top-secret chili recipe. The sentiment is the same but more appropriate to the season.
- Skip the Cemetery: If the roads are icy, a procession to the cemetery can be dangerous. When there is snow or ice on the ground, it might not be a good idea to ask people to walk to the gravesite and stand in the elements. And if it is especially cold, you might not even be able to open the grave anyway. Skip the graveside service and do something special at the memorial service instead.
- Hold a Special Indoor Gathering: There are lots of things you can do to commemorate a life in good weather: a dove-releasing ceremony, a gun salute, spreading the ashes over a favorite hiking trail…but winter takes these options away from you. Do not let this discourage you.
Look for alternatives that can take place inside:
A catered reception
Showing home movies
A special service or reading
Having everyone sign a framed photo
Projects/crafts the deceased enjoyed
Rent a reception hall for a large gathering
One of the advantages of a winter funeral is that they tend to cost less (simply because you cannot do as many of the services and special events that take place outside). Take advantage of these savings to set up a scholarship fund, help the family out during these difficult times, or to throw a more elaborate memorial party at a later date.