Similar to how we can’t choose our time of death or the time of death for those we love, we can’t control the weather. This is a very unfortunate fact for those of us who are planning a funeral in the Winter months. Cold, rainy, or snowy weather is simply a fact of life for these reasons and might play havoc with your scheduled funeral or interment of ashes.
Are Funerals Cancelled Because of Rain or Snow?
Typically funerals are events that go on, be it rain or shine or snow. A lot goes into planning a funeral, for both the bereaved party and the funeral home. If there is going to be a burial, then the grave is typically dug the night before. If the funeral is canceled, then the grave must be refilled for safety reasons and then re-dug at a later date. If these things sound pricey, they are. Canceling a funeral can be very expensive, and the funeral home might not have another opening on its calendar for days or even weeks.
However, whether or not to cancel a funeral service due to bad weather is up to the affected family at the end of the day. It may be easier to simply scrap the planned service and wait for a date with better weather. If you do decide to cancel, don’t delay informing the guests and funeral home. Friends and family will need to adjust travel plans and you’ll need to coordinate with the funeral director about a new date right away. Ideally, you can let your guests know the new date for the funeral at the same time you let them know that plans have changed.
While there is no guarantee that the new date will come with good weather, it is almost a sure thing that bad weather will impact attendance. So, while most people carry on despite the weather, it does make sense to postpone a funeral in some cases. There is also the option of holding two services. Hold the one in the rain or snow, especially if there is a burial planned, and then plan a second, larger event once the weather has cleared up.
How to Hold a Funeral in Bad Weather
If you do decide to go forward with a service in bad weather, consider the old Victorian belief that rain was good luck and a sign that the soul of the deceased is moving on to heaven. This superstition might bring a little relief in an otherwise challenging time. For holding a funeral in bad weather, consider the following tips.
1. Move as much of the event as possible indoors
While the burial still needs to happen outdoors, talk to the funeral director about moving the service indoors. Another option is to ask friends or family for a place to host the service or the reception after if one of these was taking place outside. One of the issues with bringing a service or reception indoors is space. Things might be a little cramped, so communicate this with guests as they arrive at the service or before the reception.
2. Create shelter outside
If you live somewhere where inclement weather is common, the funeral home may have equipment like tents and heaters. If not, try to rent your tents, heaters, and maybe even some outdoor flooring. If you can’t find tents, tarps and rope are easy to acquire. Ask for help from handy friends and family members to set up the rain or snow protection. Consider other alternatives like offering umbrellas to each guest if it’s raining or blankets for them to wrap up in to ward off the cold.
3. Shorten the service
For whatever part of the funeral is outside, try to keep it as short as possible. No one will be offended if they’re asked to not give a speech or offer special music, and most people will likely be grateful for the shortened duration. To keep the integrity of the ceremony intact, offer virtual alternatives for those who’ve been asked to step down. A speech could be recorded and posted to social media, as could special music.
4. Consider holding a second service
While most people will brave bad weather for a funeral, some won’t or can’t. Consider having a second service later can be helpful. If your loved one was cremated, holding a scattering event at a beautiful location or a memorial tree planting ceremony could be things to consider as part of a second service. The Living Urn offers leading eco-friendly scattering urns and tree urns to memorialize loved ones. A scattering event at a location special to your loved one can be a meaningful moment to truely honor them. A tree memorial would honor your loved one for years to come and give those left behind a place to come and remember them. In general, as long as the ground isn't frozen you can still plant, or, alternatively, you can have The Living Urn holding your loved one's ashes on display at the service and have the tree delivered and planted in the Spring.