Alternative goodbyes

Alternative goodbyes

It is never too late to hold a memorial or other ceremony for an important person. You could consider linking this to an important date – for example the date of their death, or of the funeral or of their birthday. Children and young people who did not attend the funeral may appreciate some of the following ideas; they can also be used for marking the anniversary of the person’s death:

  • Visit the grave (if there is one – or other special place, for example where the ashes were scattered).
  • Visit a place with special memories (for example, the place where you had your best holiday ever).
  • Create a special place of their own choosing (for example, in the garden of a new house).
  • Visit a place that you went to regularly (for example, the park or the swimming pool) – an everyday rather than a once-in-a-lifetime place.

Some of these ideas may make the occasion special:

  • Hold a small ceremony with specially chosen music, poems and tributes.
  • Bring a picnic of the dead person’s favourite food to share.
  • Prepare something to leave in the ‘special place’ – flowers, a laminated poem, a toy.
  • Write messages, for example you could say: ‘If you came back for five minutes, I would …’ or ‘I remember when …’ or ‘My wish for the future is …’
  • Light a candle and share special memories with each other.
  • Start a collection of memories from family and friends of the person who has died. (‘I remember the day Jim got stuck on the school roof after climbing up to get his ball.’)

Where to get support

The Winston’s Wish team is available to offer emotional and practical bereavement support to children, young people, families and those who care for them. If you need advice on supporting a bereaved child, you can call us on 08088 020 021 (8am to 8pm, Monday-Friday), email us on or use our online chat.

Our Winston’s Wish Crisis Messenger is available 24/7 for urgent support in a crisis. Text WW to 85258.

Other resources you might find helpful

Using a memory box with bereaved children
How to use a memory box

A guide to creating a memory box where children and young people can keep pictures and items that help them to maintain memories of the person who has died.

Activities for bereaved children
Activities for bereaved children

Download our activities to help grieving children and young people to explore and express their feelings and emotions and to help them maintain memories of the person who has died.