Five ways to say goodbye to someone if you cannot go to their funeral

Many UK councils have limited the number of people attending funerals to a maximum of 10 during the COVID-19 pandemic which, understandably, can be very upsetting to those family members who cannot say goodbye to their loved ones. In this blog, Reverend Andrew Dotchin of St John’s Church offers advice on how to honour those who have died if you cannot attend the funeral.


In just a few short months COVID-19 has consumed life in the United Kingdom.

Social distancing has meant that weddings have been postponed and holidays have been cancelled; and even though funerals are continuing to take place, numerous councils have said that only a maximum of 10 people can attend, with government guidelines suggesting that only members of the person’s household and close family members should go to the funeral.

It is also likely that many could not visit loved ones before they passed, which can make their untimely death even more painful to process.

For those who are struggling with the prospect of not attending a loved one’s funeral, there are many ways you can say goodbye to them in the comfort of your own home, which may help ease your grief and offer some solace in these difficult times.


1.     Light a candle

Something as simple as lighting a candle can offer a lot of comfort in these difficult times. You can do this on your own or with members of your household while the service is taking place. If you have an Order of Service to hand, you can read this out loud and sing along to the songs.

2.      Toast your loved one

If your loved one had a favourite drink or meal, make a toast in their name and have a few minutes of silence to remember them. You could also listen to their favourite music during the meal.

3.      Visit a place that was special to your loved one

As part of your daily exercise, you could walk to a place that was special to your loved one. While there, remember past events and conversations you might have had and enjoy the time either by yourself or with members of your household.

4.      Write a letter

For those who prefer to write about their emotions or feelings, writing a letter can be very cathartic. You could write about what you wanted to say at their funeral, or you could simply write down your thoughts. You could then pass it to someone who will be at the service to put in the grave.  

5.      Donate to a charity they supported

Did your loved one have a favourite charity? A great way to honour them is to make a donation in their name. This could be as simple as donating money to a JustGiving page, or you could go one step further and do an activity to raise money – just like Captain Tom Moore who has raised more than £25 million for the NHS by walking laps in his garden.


These are a few of the many ways you can grieve and say goodbye to your loved one without attending the service. I hope these suggestions can offer some consolation in these difficult times.


If a loved one has recently passed unexpectedly, you can apply for Funeral Safe finance, which enables you to cover the cost of a funeral over a period of 12 – 48 months.
This ensures that you have no financial strain during this challenging time so you can concentrate on the more important things; and remember a loved one in the way you wish.