Death is a reality for all of us, and it can be hard to think about what you want to happen when you die. It’s even more difficult when you’ve lost a loved one. Many people will have to make funeral arrangements for their next of kin, but what if they want something different?
Some people don’t want a funeral, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to honor their loved ones. In some cultures, there are other ways of honoring the deceased’s memory that has been practiced for centuries. Here are just a few options:
Tossing Flowers Into The Sea as an Offering
Many people honor their loved ones by offering either flowers or food to the sea. This is especially popular in China, where both items have great significance. Flowers are significant to the Chinese because they represent purity, beauty, and love. It’s also common practice to offer flowers after death because of their association with life. Flowers are also important because they come from the earth and return back to the earth.
Food, on the other hand, represents nourishment and strength. Both food and flowers can be used as replacements for a dead loved one’s body: since bodies go through so much change after death, what better way to show your respects than replacing their bodies with these items. The food offered is usually rice wrapped in paper or tied in clothes—which represents thanks to the deceased for watching over the family–and fish paste cakes–which represent the hope that your loved ones have found peace.
Burning the Dead
For some cultures, burning the dead is a sign of respect and love. In Cambodia, Hindu people believe that those who are burned do not suffer because they die in their sleep; those who burn their bodies also do not suffer because it is believed that they will be reborn as a higher being. In Japan, the practice of cremation began after the 7th century.
Cremation is not just popular in these countries: it’s also a popular option for people who don’t want traditional funerals. It’s becoming more common for people to consider the option of cremation and putting the ashes into golf urns because it is much cheaper than other funeral methods. Today it is common practice to cremate deceased people of all Buddhist faiths, and burned ornaments are given as gifts to celebrate new beginnings.
Lighting Candles in Remembrance
Just like the sea, fire has many symbolic meanings in different cultures. Fire represents purity and cleansing; it can also be used to symbolize passion, anger, male energy (yang), and other things depending on how it is presented. It’s no wonder, then, that lighting candles for your loved ones is a popular practice.
It can be seen as an offering to your ancestors or spirits of the dead since light represents energy and life. After a candle is lit, you can place a picture of your loved one nearby. Some people take this symbolism quite literally by lighting candles in remembrance of their loved one’s life. This practice is common among the British and Germanic people.
Creating Memorials as a Way of Remembering
Have you ever heard of an upright tombstone, created to stand erect just like the person it represents? The symbolism behind this type of creation is that the deceased was cut short in life: they were ripped away far too early, just like the column that stands upright. While this type of memorial is not too popular anymore, it was quite popular in ancient Greece and Rome.
This is because both of these cultures believed that life was short—short but sweet. They also believed that the dead were still around to watch over their loved ones through spirits, which is why the Broken Column Monument was erected.
This practice is still continued today but through different means. Memorials are common just like tributes and headstones, where personal mementos of the deceased are put on display for visitors to see. Tributes can be anything from photographs, locks of hair or fur, or stuffed animals. The idea is to remind visitors of who has passed so their memory can live on.
Creating Art in Memoriam
Different cultures have different ways of remembering the dead through art. There is a long tradition where you can pay respect to your ancestors by creating paintings or calligraphy pieces in their memory. This tradition became popular after World War II because it was during this time that Japanese families were encouraged to honor their loved ones who had passed.
Some cultures honor their loved ones with paintings or crafts that are then displayed in family memorial halls. In Thailand, these pieces are often created by monks who paint images of the Buddha. However, secular craftsmen also create pieces for families to display in their own homes, which gives them a place to pay respect to their ancestors on a daily basis.
There are many ways to honor your loved one, even if they don’t want a funeral. You can honor their memory in a variety of ways, from small gestures to larger ceremonies. The important thing is honoring them in whichever way you decide.