Exploring Alternative Grief Rituals and Practices from Around the World

Saying goodbye when someone dies is an important way to honour their memory and encourage others to say goodbye too. In the UK, many of us will have attended a funeral and noticed that each one will have been personalised to the memory of the person that has died. It could be the choice of hymns, the colour of the clothes mourners wear or even a bespoke coffin. However, funerals are not the only way to say goodbye and there are many different rituals and practices that take place all over the world. We’ve shared some of the most popular with you below.

The Day of the Dead

Dia de los Muertos is one of the most famous festivals in the Mexican calendar. People come together on the first two days of November and celebrate those who have died with music, food and colourful decorations. It is usually combined with visits to the graves of those that have died, and families spend time together, telling stories of the people that have died. During this festival, people believe that those who have died come back to celebrate with the living.

Traditional Irish Wake

Ireland is not too far away from us, but the traditional Irish wake is something special to be involved in. After a funeral has been held, people congregate at the wake and sing together and share stories about the person that has died. There is often the opportunity to drink to the memory of the deceased and people use this celebration of life to support and care for those who are in mourning.

Greek Wreaths

In Greece, a popular practice involves making mourning wreaths that are made from herbs and flowers and are then taken to the funeral of the deceased. Once the person has been laid to rest, the mourning wreaths are either laid on the graveside or taken to the family of the deceased as a way to remember the life that has passed.

Tear Bottles

In the Middle East and some parts of Europe, tear bottles are used to symbolise the love for the deceased and the sadness that they have died. The bottles are used to collect the tears of those who are in mourning and are collected in memory of the deceased. The tears inside the bottle are seen as an offering of love and help to keep the memory of the person that has died in the forefront of their minds.

Jazz Funerals

In New Orleans, jazz funerals have become a popular, yet unique way to celebrate someone’s death. During the funeral processions, a jazz band is employed to play mourning music and then after the funeral has ended, the jazz band switches to more upbeat and joyful music in honour of the deceased. In some situations, jazz funerals even complete processions around the local town before the funeral to give mourners the chance to see the coffin and pay their respects.

New Zealand Haka

Most of us will have witnessed a Haka at a rugby game, but this traditional Māori war dance is also seen at the majority of funerals in New Zealand. The purpose of the Haka at a funeral is to show love and respect to the family of the deceased as well as sending the deceased on their way into the next life. The Haka is a powerful, community symbol that is highly regarded in New Zealand and is a beautiful way to say goodbye.

2wish is Here for You

If you have experienced the sudden and unexpected loss of a child or young person under the age of 25 then 2wish are here to help. From practical support in the immediate aftermath, to ongoing care, support and community building as time goes on. If you’d like to find out more about our service then you can call us on (01443) 853125 or email us on info@2wish.org.uk and we will do our utmost to provide you with the help you are looking for. Reach out today and talk to one of our team.