In decades past, when it came to planning a funeral or honoring a loved one at a memorial service, you may have been stuck with traditional elements for things like urns, flowers, even spaces, as most funeral events took place in a funeral home. But more and more, little corners of the industry are being shaken up, and more design-forward options are becoming available.

 

Here are our editors’ picks for the latest trends to help you create a truly modern farewelling.

1. Choose a stylish urn to preserve your loved one’s ashes. 

Urns of yesteryear (and some that are still on the market today) can feel out of step with the modern design aesthetic of our living spaces now. This gorgeous “Planturn” in Speckled Maple finish from Boyce studio would be at home in any contemporary space, and even has a spot for planting a fabulous succulent. They specialize in wood designs, some of which are more earthy if you want that feeling. If you’re into something that bridges a traditional and modern look, this geometric white marble rectangle from Urns.com is timeless and chic.  And for a super-sleek effect, here's an anodized aluminum cube from the Capsule Project.

2. Think outside the funeral home.  

You can set up an unforgettable memorial in a non-traditional space such as a garden (or a biergarten!), a loft, a skate park, or even your own backyard. Whether you organize something immediately or take time to plan an event for a bit farther down the road, the key is to think about the person you’re honoring and choose a venue that feels just right. Then customize details that speak to their spirit, style, and personality. That could mean candles, photos, food, readings, even music. But start with the “where,” and don’t be afraid to be different. We promise, the others attending will thank you for hosting a memorial in a fresh location.

3. Use the latest in tech to help you plan and personalize.  

Online memorial sites have never looked so beautiful. Use one of ours (it’s free!) to design a lovely tribute, share photos and stories, and keep everyone in the loop about details. And if you’ll host events, you can share that information too, including IRL services and links to a virtual memorial or live streamed services.


 

4. Include a virtual component to the farewelling.  

Expand the number of people who can pay tribute to your loved one by taking advantage of a variety of streaming platforms. You can do it yourself or work with a pro, but make sure to read about how to live stream a funeral before deciding! 

 

5. Don’t settle for old-style funeral flowers. 

If you want to honor someone with lovely blooms, you don’t have to choose from outdated designs. Florists know how to make lovely arrangements for weddings, birthdays, and other parties. Ask them to skip traditional “sprays” and “standing sprays” and translate your preferred style (wild and soft or more architectural--whatever you like!) into a unique memorial floral display worthy of the 21st Century. For a start, create a Pinterest board of inspiration or save photos into a file on your computer, then share it with your florist or your funeral director. 

6. Come up with special touches to make attendees say, “They would’ve loved this!”  Check out local resources. Most food trucks are rentable for events, and you can even hire a caterer or local bar to make a special signature cocktail or mocktail. Think of what the person loved--BBQ and craft beer? Deep-dish pizza or tacos? 

7. Transform your gem into an actual gem.  

It can be a wonderful comfort to wear a tribute to your special one. And while much of what is out there in the memorial jewelry space can seem cheaply made and out of date, one company has found a way to create real lasting heirlooms of remembrance. Using laboratory technology, the folks at Eterneva have mastered the art of growing a diamond from ashes and even hair. The process is beautiful too, as the team seeks to learn about and celebrate the individual they are honoring all along the way, until the sparkling diamond finally has its “homecoming” with the family.

 

And if you find you'd like some help putting together a truly personal farewelling, just give us a holler at info@myfarewelling and we'll be in touch!