Incorporating Nature & Outdoors Into A Memorial Service

Death is part and parcel of the circle of life. It is the end of life and the passing of the soul to the afterlife. As much as the loss brings about immeasurable grief and pain, the people left behind need to continue living. 

As they say, life goes on, and so it must. The bereaved ones need to find a way to continue living, despite the overwhelming sense of loss and grief.

Planning a memorial service is a way of coping with the loss. A memorial service is a celebration of life- the life of the deceased where family, friends, and loved ones fondly remember good times. This service also usually triggers the start of the healing process for the loved ones left behind.

Bidding Farewell While Celebrating Life

Traditional memorial services usually followed religious traditions and keeping with the significance, most memorial services were usually held at places of worship. However, with changing times and beliefs, memorial services have also evolved.

Many families now choose locations that hold great significance for the deceased, ranging from a favorite beach, the family home, or even the local park. When it comes to planning and executing memorial services, family members are getting more creative in their quest to give their dearly departed a truly fitting service.

Lately, there has been an increasing demand for nature-themed memorial service where the beauty of nature –sunsets being the top favorite – becomes the perfect backdrop as you say goodbye to a loved one.

Incorporating a nature-themed funeral service can help lighten up the heavy feeling that grief invariably brings with it and improves the overall vibe of the gathering.

How To Incorporate Nature & Outdoors Into A Funeral Service

Holding a memorial service with Mother Nature as a backdrop and the natural beauty of the environment as the background is a long-standing way of saying goodbye. Our earliest human ancestors involved natural elements in their funerals. Nature and its elements have indeed played a huge role in how we memorialize and remember our dead. Read more on How to Make A Memorial Service A Celebration Of Life.

Outdoor memorial service is the best way to honor the memory of a person who loved the outdoors and was passionate about it whether as an avid trekker, mountain climber, nature lover, etc. Here are options on how you can maximize the environment when planning for an outdoor service:


You can decide to have an outdoor funeral in a place that holds a special meaning to the deceased or even your whole family. Consider the possibility of having the memorial service in these suggested places:

Family Land

Getting every family member in a place that holds special memories for the entire family would be very significant. Every nook and corner will let you remember and reminisce the happy times and be grateful for the time you got to spend with your loved one. Since this is a family property, you have the freedom to do what you want with the memorial service.

There are no restrictions, and you don’t need to worry about not following rules or flouting regulations unless you are opting for a burial. States like California, Washington, and Indiana prohibit home burial. Though the other states allow it, there are many regulations around home burial that need to be followed. Can you bury a loved one at home? Is it legal?


If getting your family to your family home or land is proving to be a logistical nightmare or not a convenient option for most of the family then consider having a funeral service closer home, maybe your own backyard. This is one of the most common and practical options because it is part of your property; thus, no special permits are needed, and there is no extensive planning required.


If your departed loved one was happiest in the place where the water meets the land and the sun is at its best, then create a wonderful experience and say your goodbyes with the ocean and the sunset as your free backdrop. As the sun goes down, it becomes a reminder that another day is about to end, and so too is life eventually.

An outdoor service with the sunset painting the skylines orange and the sound of the waves crashing provides a loud and pronounced emphasis on death's finality.


With the weather on your side, you can have a memorial service in your local park or even under a huge weeping willow so you can have direct contact and connection with the land. Weather permitting, this can become a soothing ray of hope to the family and friends left behind.

The rustling of the leaves and the whispering of the wind can add their own poignance to the moment, bringing solemnity and serenity to an otherwise gloomy gathering. Just make sure that you plan ahead of time because some parks require reservations and permits for these kinds of gatherings.


Scattering your loved one’s ashes in a place dear to them – some would specify that when they die, they want to be one with the sea, or they would want their ashes scattered up in the mountains.  

Many families choose cremation for the sole purpose of being able to find a special resting space for their loved ones. They want the ashes to be free and the whole memorial service as personalized as possible.

Scattering At The Beach

The most popular method of scattering of ashes of loved ones is for family and close friends to take a boat out to sea or even gather on the beach.

Scattering On Land

Scattering of ashes can also be done in the woods that surround the deceased’s home or in a state park or even in the family farm or any place special to the deceased.

The feeling of connecting and returning to the Earth, whether through water or mud, is a meaningful way of starting the process of closure and bringing comfort to the family.


Another alternative that is slowly gaining popularity is a green funeral. This is considered a purist method and one of the best processes of merging the body back to the elements of the earth in the most natural way possible. It does not also put a financial burden on the family.

A green funeral is an environment-friendly outdoor memorial service alternative where there is no embalming involved, nor the use of formaldehyde products.

It promotes the use of sustainable, biodegradable materials in the casket, shroud, or clothes used by the deceased. It also uses recycled paper products, and the theme of natural and sustainable resources is carried through.

If you want a green funeral for your loved one, ensure that all elements of the burial including the casket or the shroud are non-toxic and biodegradable. Consider a pine casket among biodegradable ideas for an outdoor funeral service.

An eco-friendly cremation urn holding ashes and seeds that eventually grow into a tree is another great option. The traditional headstones can be replaced with natural grave markers in the form of flat rocks, trees, or plants.


True to being an ecological warrior, you can consider nature-themed urns not just by design but also going by the material it is made of. There are a variety of biodegradable products available on the market for both burial and cremation purposes.

There are biodegradable cremation urns that serve their purpose of housing the cremains of your loved one and, over time, return these ashes to the earth.

The same concept is followed with coffins that are green and sustainable. The materials used are 100% biodegradable, allowing them to break down easily.


You can use a background close to you or even a photograph for the program. Make it even special – if possible – by using a nature shot that was taken personally by the deceased loved one. This will add a special and more personal touch to the memorial.

Additionally, you can also print different photos of nature and pen short messages of thanks to everyone who shared your grief and loss.


No legacy can be greater than a tree that can see the next generations of your family. Plant or adopt a tree and scatter some of the cremains around it. This will be a living reminder of the life that was cherished but lost.


If the soft rustling of the wind and the comforting silence of the outdoors is not enough, you can softly use nature music to fill the air. This can provide a reflective and serene ambiance during the memorial service.

Benefits Of Having An Outdoor Service

Holding a memorial service outdoors is always one of the most excellent burial service ideas because of its many advantages over having the gathering over an enclosed space. 

 With the free and open space of the environment serving as your venue, you will also have a better experience and more. Here are a few of the perks of having an outdoor service.


One of the considerations when there is any kind of gathering, is the space of the venue. You have to make sure that the space is not cramped and people can comfortably move about. With an outdoor service, you will not have to stress about not having enough room for friends and loved ones who will pay their respects because Mother Nature has room for everyone and more.  

You also don’t have to limit the number of visiting guests because there’s enough space to hold everyone who wants to say goodbye. Additionally, there is no limitation when it comes to time. You won’t feel rushed about having the service done in two to four hours.


It is said that nature is a great healer and nothing compares to the solace that nature offers. No words need to be spoken; all you need is to listen and feel. Close your mind and focus your senses on the chirping of the birds or the gentle waves of the sea. Feel the wind against your skin or the warm rays of the sun. The great outdoors is the perfect setting to say goodbye.  

Just like the famous last line in the movie, “A Walk to Remember” - “Love is like the wind, you can't see it, but you can feel it.” The serene feeling and the emotion of closing a chapter with a grateful heart can trigger the start of your healing process. Maximizing the tranquility of nature is one of the most effective ways of receiving comfort during a time of loss.


You don’t have to spend time thinking about the most fitting decoration for your loved one’s funeral service because your nature-themed decorations are more than enough. Let the trees and the natural flora serve as your landscape or perhaps the ocean and the rocks. You can reallocate your efforts, time, and financial resources to more important things than rushing and making decorations; you can spend time with your family and be each other’s support system during this time of loss. 

Additionally, if you are planning to have it in your backyard or the park, you can already take full advantage of the blooms and flowers surrounding the area. You can save on funeral flower arrangements as well as the efforts involved in their disposal after the funeral gathering. How to choose flower arrangements for a memorial service.

Types Of Decorations For An Outdoor Service

Part of planning an outdoor funeral/memorial service would be the decorations. Today, everything seems to be coordinated with a central theme. From birthday celebrations to funeral events, decorations play a role in setting the overall ambiance of the gathering.

There is minimal decoration needed when you are planning an outdoor memorial service because the beauty of nature is grander, and the space a little too vast. You also need to consider non-controllable factors like the weather when it comes to putting up decorations.

 Putting in some complementary accents, though, can make the outdoor area more personalized as you go about the memorial service.

Just make sure that these additional decorations do not in any way damage or pollute the environment. Remember to also clean up behind you and this includes removing any additional decoration you may have used. Below are some minimalistic ideas if you are considering decorating the outdoor area.


You can tie ribbons around the trees on the property. These ribbons can be in the deceased’s favorite color. This will not just serve as a dainty decoration, but it can also serve as an indicator of the perimeter covered for the gathering.


Hanging wreaths with photos of the deceased is one of the great ideas for outdoor service décor that can be easily done. You can print candid photos of your loved one and put them in the center of a wreath to hang in the area.

You can also create a photo timeline using clothespin and twine to complement that natural vibe. With this simple decoration, family and friends can look back at memories, fondly share stories, and celebrate life.


This becomes dual purpose because aside from adding to the decoration, it also engages family, friends, and guests. You can set up multiple stone stations with flat stones and a marker.

Create a small sign to instruct guests to write their names on the stone and a small note – anything to honor or describe the deceased. After the gathering, the family can keep the dedicated rocks in their garden or scatter them during travels.


Embrace the current season. The time of death doesn’t give you much choice, so work with whatever season you are given.

If the loss happens during spring, then go for a spring memorial service. This is the perfect opportunity for greens and pastels with floral photo wreaths. You can also use spring-themed decorations such as umbrellas filled with flowers. The wind will not blow it away because it is weighed down with flowers.

If the passing happens during the autumn season, you can use hay bales and accents in warm browns, oranges, reds, and yellows. You can even include pumpkins and use the sunset with its orange glow as the final venue for goodbye.


Put small flower arrangements around the perimeter of where you will have the funeral service. Use the favorite flowers of your departed loved one to make it more special.

You can incorporate the most common funeral flowers like carnations, gladioli, lilies, and roses since these flowers bear special meanings like white lilies for peace and red roses for love. Add in your deceased’s most loved flower, and you create a message purely out of floral.


during the funeral service, you have to take into consideration the comfort of your guests. Expect that you will have guests of varying ages coming to pay their respects. You can’t leave them standing the entire time.

You have to include seating arrangements in your planning. Since you will be outdoors, you may opt to rent plastic chairs for the sake of convenience.

However, in keeping with the natural theme, here are some ideas for outdoor service when it comes to seating options.

  • Wooden benches – if you are holding the funeral ceremony in the park, you can maximize the available benches. For sure, it may not be enough, so you can bring some wooden benches, chairs, and even sturdy crates for additional seating. 
  • Tree stumps – this is an excellent recommendation for memorial services held in your backyard, the garden, or open space surrounded by trees. It compliments that earthy and natural setting of the outdoors. You can even use these tree trumps after the service and create beautiful pieces of wooden art or fixtures out of them.
  • Log style seats – imagine being in camp while roasting marshmallows and sharing ghost stories, but this time, it will be fond memories and stories that you will share as you take part in the celebration of the life of your loved one.
  • Bales of hay – this is a perfect seating idea, especially if you are holding the funeral service in a barn or on your family’s farm. There’s no barn or farm that does not have bales of hay. So, utilize what’s in stock and buy more if you feel the need for it. You can always use it later on. Bales of hay are a comfortable seating alternative, and it will blend in perfectly with your natural setting.
  • Mats – set a relaxed mood and are easy to arrange too. You can use the regular picnic mats, strategically placing several within the perimeter of the area under the shade. You can also spread beach towels if you are planning on a memorial service by the beach. This laid-back set-up can improve the overall mood of the gathering while still maintaining a respectful vibe

Incorporating Natural Elements Into A Memorial Service

The memorial services of today usually incorporate some activities so families, friends, and guests are no longer just witnesses or silent participants. You can still do these and more using natural elements while still maintaining the respect and solemnity of the gathering.


All you need is writing materials and twine or string. You can ask everyone to pen a note and hang these tens or perhaps even hundreds (depending on the turnout) of heartfelt messages to the tree. 


After the gathering or during it, find the opportunity to hand out packets of seeds to everyone who attended. It can be the seeds of the deceased’s favorite flower or herbs or seeds of your choice. This can serve as a memento for everyone to plant in honor of the dearly departed.


another simple but symbolic touch that you can adapt in a memorial service is the releasing of doves. These birds have long been a symbol of hope, love, and peace, and a white dove being released towards the end of the service can provide a soothing touch in this sad and sorrowful time. Family members can opt to release these beautiful birds one by one or from decorated cages. Whilst doing so, a poem can be read, or a song sung.


These colorful winged creatures depict change and beauty. Releasing butterflies adds a unique touch to a funeral service, and when you form that connection between your surroundings and the butterflies, you can instinctively feel that tranquility and harmony around you. Butterflies can be released from cages or individual boxes.


Among the popular biodegradable ideas for an outdoor funeral is the use of lanterns that is an eco-friendly substitute for balloons and plastic confetti. Remember the movie Tangled? Releasing biodegradable lanterns means reducing the effects of pollution because, unlike plastic balloons, biodegradable lanterns go back to the earth in time.


This is another eco-friendly alternative to balloons. Bubbles are just as floaty and fun, and you can rope in young kids to create this special moment during the funeral service. Kids would love to play a part in the memorial service of a beloved grandparent or a well-loved family member. You can go big and blow some giant bubbles too and what’s best is it is way cheaper than real balloons. You can even create your own environmental dish soap for a fun bubble solution.


Urns are designed depending on the intended final resting place. Refer to an urn buying guide to help you factor in some considerations because there are different kinds of cremation urns. There are 100% biodegradable cremation urns that are intended for water burials, and you can just allow these urns to float and scatter the ashes into the sea without worrying about any diverse effects on marine life. 

The Best Time Of Day For An Outdoor Funeral

Choosing the right time to hold an outdoor memorial service is something that requires careful consideration and the agreement of the rest of the family. You have to also factor in what the preference of the deceased would be. There is really no such thing as a “perfect time of the day,” but you can make it the best one possible.


Both sunrise and sunset offer families a beautiful and ideal setting for remembering a loved one. Sunrises and sunsets have different spiritual meanings and hold significant meaning to the family.


Sunsets symbolize the conclusion of a journey, and usually, this journey is life itself. The twilight of human life is metaphorically compared to the setting of the sun, where a journey has already been completed or has already ended.

It shows the passage of time. Memorial services held during sunset can give you that soothing orange glow in the sky. Sunsets serve as a perfect reminder of the life that has been, and as the sun finally goes down and darkness creeps in, the bereaved family can start with the healing process.


The sunrise equally is great timing for a memorial service. The dawn is always associated with new beginnings and hope. It is another opportunity for happiness and a chance to make improvements.

Sunrise signifies awakening, and this can be associated with the new life of your loved one in the hereafter and the new hope for the mourning family that everything happens for a reason. As the sun starts peeking behind the clouds, it brings with it renewed hope and optimism to face the days ahead.


If you know your dearly departed very well, you will know which hour of the day was his or her top favorite. If all factors like the weather, schedules, and suppliers, among others, are agreeable to that certain hour, then make it happen.

Even for the last time, set the alarm clock and celebrate the life of your loved one at his or her preferred time.

Usually, death and its related activities follow a strict timeline, and if the odds and the timing are in your favor, you can set the memorial on a date significant to your family and friends. Just make sure that your plans are clearly communicated so family and friends – especially those who are traveling can make adjustments to their schedules.

Recommendations To Celebrate & Honor The Loss

Despite the loss, you will eventually learn a valuable lesson about everything that you’ve gone through, from the grieving to the healing process. Today, cremation has become the most realistic choice in burying our dead, and you can get something beautiful out of the process. Aside from the cremation process being friendlier, it is also cost-effective, and you, like other bereaved families, are not restricted with what you want to do with the ashes.


A scattering ceremony is highly popular nowadays. It allows the family to add the ashes of their beloved one in places that hold special significance.

Scattering ceremonies can be as big or small as the family prefers and gives families and individuals a personal way to release their loved one. Each family member can let go a small amount of ashes and even say a few words in honor and memory of the deceased.


Another advantage of cremation is the cremation jewelry- where loved ones get to hold on to the deceased not only in their memories but also on their person. In this case in the form of ashes. This can be the start of a new tradition where this symbolic heirloom can be passed down to new generations.

The cremation jewelry industry has today stepped up its game, becoming more creative when it comes to timeless pieces where the ashes of your loved ones can be incorporated. You have the traditional choices of lockets and pendants holding a small amount of ashes inside.

Another option is converting ashes into jewelry, where the ashes of your loved ones are mixed with other elements to create an irreplaceable piece of jewelry.

There are so many options, designs, and ideas that you can consider. Take inspiration from our available resources online. Adapt one from the readymade designs or customize it based on your preference. From ashes into jewelry, bracelets, rings, and even keychains, the options are endless.


Additionally, turn your grief and loss into acts of kindness by encouraging your family and friends to donate to or promote an outdoor-friendly cause that your dearly departed greatly believed in or volunteered for.

You can also start with a donation drive starting with the clothes and things that used to belong to your deceased that can still be useful and can still bring joy to other people. Letting go of these material possessions usually triggers the start of moving on while at the same time a practical but charitable way of decluttering.


Another way to celebrate and honor your departed loved one is through photo engraved memorial jewelry. Wear these customized pendants and charms with pride while fondly cherishing the happy and even sad moments of the past.

You can effortlessly memorialize your favorite memory through a picture of your loved one around your neck and close to your heart. Learn more about the best photo engraved memorial jewelry and start browsing your photo galleries for that picture that you feel strongly about and would always have an everlasting bond with.

Tips For A Successful Outdoor Memorial Service

Whatever your reasons are for holding the memorial service outdoors, it is nice to have a couple of reminders and some tips for success to ensure that it really does become a celebration of life and a gathering of people who share the same loss and love.

  • Consider renting a tent – a tent is a great way of celebrating a memorial service outdoors while ensuring that elderly or very young family members can say their own goodbyes from more convenient quarters while being protected from outdoor elements like the heat or the cold.
  • Have a reliable sound system – you can’t compete with the sound of nature or traffic so get additional support by making sure everyone can hear what’s being said during the memorial service.
  • K.I.S.S – Keep it Short and Simple. Remember that the length of the eulogy or the stories being shared is not a direct reflection of how much the deceased was loved and cherished. Since the weather has a mind of its own, be ready to cut the service short – if needed. Read the shortened version of your eulogy and just post the full version online. Instead of singing an entire song, just do the chorus and upload the full version on social media.
  • Livestream it – live streaming is the best and most convenient way to allow loved ones who are far away or unable to travel, to take part in the memorial service. There are a lot of free online apps that you can use, and it can stream in real-time.
  • Plan B is a must – always have a back-up plan. Even if you have checked the weather forecast and planned around it, Mother Nature is also known to be fickle. So, just in case she changes her mind, ensure that you have a plan B if things don’t go the way you planned thanks to elements beyond your control. 

Outdoor Memorial Service Frequently Asked Questions

From what to wear to how many people can you invite, we've got real answers to the most commonly asked questions that families ask when it comes to having an outdoor memorial service.

What should I wear to an outdoor funeral?

Black has been the customary color when attending funerals because it is considered a color for mourning, although an all-white theme is also becoming a popular choice. When attending an outdoor funeral, it is best to follow the traditional guidelines when it comes to clothing. Although the expectations nowadays are less rigid, you can’t go wrong with wearing the most appropriate attire as a form of showing respect for the bereaved family.

Generally, outfits, even for outdoor memorial services, are conservative. Think of the lines of your outfit when you are going to church or even going for an interview. Black and dark colors with subdued designs are acceptable and are expected, especially for the immediate family of the departed. 

Men are expected to wear a black or dark suit with a white shirt and a tie, and dress shoes to complete the ensemble.   For women, the usual funeral etiquette is to wear a dark or black skirt suit or even pantsuit; a skirt of suitable length, and a blouse with sleeves, a top, or a sweater. For footwear, ladies are recommended to wear pumps or flats. 

But if the family is specific with an on-going theme for the memorial, then try your best to blend it. There are memorials where the colors of the deceased’s favorite sports team are represented or perhaps the colors of the fraternity or sorority that they’d been part of. If the family advises to dress down, it is still not okay to attend in shorts and flip flops. Instead opt for a smart casual look in somber colors, keeping with the tone of the day. 

Do I need a permit for an outdoor funeral or memorial service?

When you have the funeral or memorial service in your family plot or even your backyard, there is no need for you to secure a permit. It is, after all, your land, so you can do whatever business you want. But if you will be holding the gathering in a public space like the park or the beach, there are permits that you need to acquire before finalizing the date and time.

Reservation to the place is also needed because you don’t want a birthday party being celebrated, perhaps just a few yards away from the memorial service of your loved one. You also wouldn’t want to be rushed because the next group is waiting to set up decorations where you currently have your service.

Proper coordination with the management of the park, beach, or any public space where you want to hold the funeral is a must. There are guidelines when having these gatherings. Before sending out a final invite to your family and friends, make sure that, like any life events, you have secured that reservation for your venue and have the necessary permit and documentation so everything can go according to plan.

Is there a limit to how many people can attend an outdoor service?

Pre-pandemic, the answer would have been no. There is absolutely no limit to the guests. Everyone who wants to celebrate life and offer their sympathies to the bereaved family is more than welcome to attend the memorial service.

With the outdoors as the venue, there is more space to accommodate large groups of mourners and still have enough space to be alone and be left with your own thoughts. But now, with the global health scare still present, it is going to be an entirely different situation. As much as everyone would love to pay their final respects, funeral services should have scaled-back visitors limited only to the immediate family and very close friends. Immunocompromised relatives are even advised to stay home.

The option right now is to have a more private gathering, and if the pandemic eases up, then a memorial service for a larger crowd can be done at a later time.

A Beautiful Blend Of The Outdoors & Your Devotion To A Loved One

There is a growing awareness of the slow death of the environment. Many families are therefore opting for more sustainable and beneficial funeral services.

Services that symbolize being free and one with the elements of earth, water, air, and fire- through outdoor memorial services. Just like the Bible says, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

Helpful resources:

How to choose flower arrangements for a memorial service

How to have a funeral when you don't have any money

Going back to work after a death

February 5, 2021 by Frances Kay