Letting Go -- Objects To Release As Part Of A Funeral Service

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Besides being a time to honor a loved one, funeral services also play an important role in the healing process for loved ones left behind.  Physically releasing something into the sky either during or after a funeral can be a therapeutic step in this process,  Here are some ideas to consider incorporating into your memorial experience.


Doves have always had significant religious symbolism. According to the Old Testament, Noah released a dove from the ark, hoping it would find a place to rest even though the world had been in turmoil.  Ever since, the dove has been a symbol of peace, and releasing them at a funeral can be a way to represent the soul's journey towards heaven and eventually finding rest.  At Christ's baptism in the New Testament the presence of the Holy Spirit was likewise represented by a dove, and this tradition can also be seen as an embodiment of the comfort sought by those left behind.

Professional dove releasing services are available and, depending on our budget, different numbers of birds can be used.  Common options include releasing a single symbolic dove, the same number of doves as the child's age, or a dove for each family member to personally release.


Doves aren't the only living creature that can be released in conjunction with a memorial service.  Butterflies are another beautiful option that can often be mail-ordered and delivered on the day of the funeral.  Because of their large four-inch wingspan and slow, graceful flight patterns, monarchs make an especially lovely choice for memorial purposes, lending themselves well to photographs and allowing the ritual to last long enough to give loved ones opportunity to reflect during the release.

Like doves, the number of butterflies released can vary depending on circumstance and budget.  Many services offer the option of either having family members release individual butterflies from small boxes or envelopes, or releasing them all together from a larger presentation box.


Balloons are another option.  Generally less-expensive than releasing live animals, helium balloons are affordable enough to let large numbers of people participate in the experience.  They also come in a variety of colors and are easily customized to represent the deceased.  It may be especially meaningful to invite mourners to write a memory, prayer, or wish on a piece of paper that can be affixed to the balloon before releasing them.  Letting go of the balloon becomes a symbolic step towards letting go of the loved one.

Sky Lanterns

Less common than balloons, sky lanterns can also be released.  While special memorial lanterns featuring messages of hope or customized with the deceased's name are available, even plain floating lanterns look spectacular as they float gently upwards.  Sky lanterns can be used in the day, but the sight of glowing lanterns filling the night sky is especially stunning.  They can generally be seen for quite a long time after release, providing an opportunity for reflection and meditation.  

Adding a ritual that involves physically letting go of something can be a beautiful way to help mourners begin letting go of their loved ones.  Consider integrating any of the objects listed above into your memorial service to add a uniquely beautiful and comforting touch to the experience.

For more information on funeral services, contact a professional like Louis Suburban Chapel's Inc.