Arranging a Memorial

Memorial service

For various reasons it's not always possible to hold a funeral service with the deceased present. For example, they may have died abroad and the funeral may already have taken palce in the country in which the person died. The person who has died may have donated his/her body to medical science. Even if there is a funeral or cremation, you may wish this to be restricted to close family and friends.

In instances such as these, it is possible to hold a memorial service.  This is like a funeral service but without a burial or cremation.

You can arrange the memorial service yourself and, since no burial or cremation is involved, you can choose to hold it anywhere. You could still choose a crematorium, or you could opt for a venue close to the deceased's heart.


A memorial can be held anywhere, from a crematorium to a beach, park, or anywhere which holds special meaning.

Memorials at a crematorium

Crematoria usually offer a range of ways to memorialise the person who has died. Crematorium staff will contact you shortly after the funeral to discuss your wishes. They will provide guidance on how to apply to erect a memorial and they will provide a list of charges.

Memorials at a cemetery

It will usually be some time after a funeral before a headstone can be placed securely in the ground. For this reason you don't need to make a decision about the headstone immediately. Each cemetery will have its own regulations as to what form of memorials it allows. Some only allow headstones and not larger memorials. Some allow stone but not wood. There will also be rules and guidelines governing the wording of memorials, their positioning and their surrounds.

Talk to your funeral director or monumental mason about what form of memorial you'd like. They will be able to inform you of any restrictions of which you may need to be aware.

Your funeral director will also be able to apply to the local authority to put up a memorial on your behalf. Local authorities usually charge for granting this permission.

Family plots

Local authorities may still need to approve inscriptions on headstones, even where that headstone already exists in a family plot. This would usually be done through an application form available from the bereavement services section of your local council.

An existing headstone may need to be removed temporarily from the grave to allow the new inscription to be added.

Memorials elsewhere

A person who has died may have wished for a memorial in a place other than a cemetery or crematorium. Common memorials are benches or trees sited in places that meant something to the deceased (e.g. local parks, seafronts, woodland).

Knowing that a memorial to a loved one is giving pleasure or rest to others can be a comforting thought.

Many local authorities will permit permanent memorials to those who have died.  You should however, seek clarification as to what is and what is not acceptable and where it can be situated.  Before erecting a memorial of a permanent nature, always consult the local authority first, to avoid disappointment.

Benches and other park and garden furniture will usually be of a standard type already approved by councils. For a fee they will arrange for the item and accompanying plaque to be sited in an area that meets your approval and the requirements of the council.

For more information contact the parks and recreation or design and property services sections of your local council.

Types of memorial

Typical memorials at crematoria are:

  • Wall plaques
  • Kerb edgings
  • Benches
  • Trees
  • Rose bushes

There is always a fee for erecting any form of memorial. These vary between local authorities.

Online memorialisation

The memorial you create for a loved one doesn't have to be a physical one. Online memorialisation is growing in popularity. It's a way for people to pay tribute on the web to the person who has died. Online memorialisation may include a short biography, images or thoughts, all created by family or friends.

There are currently two main types of online memorialisation.

The first uses freely available social media sites like Facebook. The second uses specific sites set up for the purpose of online memorialisation. These allow you to invite friends and family to post thoughts, share stories and light virtual candles. Some sites charge for entries; others are free or charitable.

You should search online for the right home for your online memorialisation but three starting points are FacebookMuch Loved and GoneTooSoon.

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