Apart-but-together funeral format

A funeral to remember your loved one during this pandemic 



Dear All,

We held a half-hour farewell service for our 94-year-old friend Elpseth. It was an apart-but-together celebration with everyone taking part in their own homes but not online. We had given Elspeth’s other friends and family notice of the time, what to have on hand and the format of the service. We emailed everyone a eulogy of her life and some photos.

We share this format so that if a loved one of yours dies before our world returns to ‘normal’ it can also help you organise a lovely farewell. Change the format to suit your occasion.

Set a time and date at least one week ahead, preferably two, to allow for the information to reach most people who will want to join in.

Bob Brown



Apart-but-together funeral format

1. Welcome
2. Homage (to life on Earth, God or, simply, existence)
3. Song or hymn
4. Candle lighting and memories
5. Eulogy
6. Floating of flowers on a bowl of water
7. Music
8. A minute’s silent remembrance
9. A benediction (good words): final thanks for her or his life and wishing everyone well

Coffee, tea or a glass can follow. We gathered tributes in an online book and sent them out for all to read (see responses below). An email site with bank account details for memorial donations to a charity was provided.



Some comments after Elspeth’s funeral:

• Well, that was wonderful. We felt a part of that celebration and feel very grateful for it. Merridy, Sydney.

• It was nice to feel connected to you all and others reflecting on Elspeth’s life today. Cathy, Deviot.

• With you very much in spirit ... your wonderful way of celebration. Belinda, Bellerive.

• I couldn’t get the link to the eulogy to work, so I just did my own thing. I cast a daisy into our birdbath and a beautiful little Black Headed Honeyeater dropped in for a drink. Nick, Dunalley.

• Thank you for your eulogy and steps for us to celebrate Elspeth’s life today, separately yet together. It was a wonderful idea which is appreciated. We carried out the service as suggested, with our chosen music being ‘What a Wonderful World’ and Steve Crump’s ‘Unbroken’. Lindsay and Sue, Brisbane.

• Today, during Bob’s eulogy for Elspeth, I noticed a little whisper of wind moving across a section of the still waters. Appreciations for a nice lead. Helen, Launceston.

• Congratulations to all involved with producing the tribute to Elspeth in this historically challenging time. We set up a tableau in our home including a picture painted by Elspeth in Tarbena, Spain ... a place that is very much in our thoughts as the pandemic sweeps across the world. We chose to have a bowl for the water made by local potter, Bill Thomas, behind the report (about restoring Lake Pedder) and the flower from our garden was rested on the book during the eulogy and then placed in the bowl. How extraordinary to have a simple candle, used over many centuries, next to digital technology as a means of celebrating Elspeth’s life of dedication to Lake Pedder. Your initiative has enabled us all to participate in this commemoration, overcoming the restrictions on gathering at funerals during this COVID-19 pandemic. Chris and Di, Connellys Marsh.

• Beautiful virtual memorial for the indomitable Elspeth today!’ Emma, Melbourne.

• Thank you. Very touching in these times. Attached are treasures from our walls: including one of Elspeth’s first paintings. Vica and Steph, Taroona.

• My wife Hiroko and I just now finished watching Bob’s eulogy and lighting a candle here.’ John, London.


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  • Margo Knox
    commented 2020-04-10 15:17:53 +1000
    So wonderful to see the simplicity and Love shared. I think this is a terrific way to do funerals going forward. No expensive coffins or women and men in black suits with fake sadness. Sharing through a “do your own” is possibly the most amazing way to share..thank you. I do hope we can move forward doing more simple funerals that are strongly heartfelt, but money wise cost less. The funeral industry will only be shaken up and dispersed by doing wonderful ceremonies like the one you have shared Bob xx
  • Steven Chaffer
    published this page 2020-04-10 12:22:00 +1000