Ideas for Remembrance Events

Remembrance events and opportunities to mark our children’s special days are important to many of us. We’ve come up with some ideas for things you can do to remember and celebrate together – and in a way that doesn’t harm wildlife:

  • Blow bubbles into the breeze
  • Float flowers on the water
  • Rice paper boat release
  • Paint a stone and leave it somewhere special
  • Create a piece of art
  • Make a decoration or bauble
  • Wind spinners or fly kites
  • Write your messages in chalk
  • Write names or messages in the sand
  • Decorate a tea-light holder
  • Throw wild flower bombs
  • Plant bulbs or insect-friendly plants
  • Plant a tree
  • Memorial walk and chat
  • Walk of light (with lanterns)
  • Transform an unwanted space: vacant lots, roundabouts and verges could use a little of your love. Watch new life grow from between the cracks!
Windmills fife Sands
An annual field of windmills held by Fife Sands; windmills are planted by parents and then taken home at the end of the day.

In the past, some Sands Groups have organised balloon releases as a way of marking parents’ bereavements and raising awareness. Even so-called bio-degradable balloons can take months to degrade, and are still harmful to the environment and wildlife. While much of the balloon might disintegrate over time, the knot and some of the latex remains long after you said your goodbyes, while their strings entangle wildlife. In addition, Helium used in balloons is a depleting resource. We’ve had a group in the past that has been targeted by an environmental group to prevent their balloon release from taking place, which was very upsetting for bereaved parents and families. In addition, some local councils have started introducing by-laws against balloon releases. Chinese lanterns are also best avoided, as they have caused fires in the past.

Cardiff and Newport Sands chose to hold a bubble release
Cardiff and Newport Sands chose to hold a bubble release

Cardiff and Newport Sands chose to hold a bubble release. Heatherjane Coombs, Chair of the group, said, “Balloons were lovely but once they were gone it felt so final. Little ones hated letting them go as well. By doing bubbles the whole family can take part; instead of ending the service with tears it often ends in laughter and lasts so much longer. We hand out small bottles to everyone and have bubble machines going for larger bubbles.”

Butterfly releases can also be problematic; if they are released at the wrong time of year and in an unsuitable location the butterflies can perish quickly. Dove releases are also best avoided; we need to be mindful of their care and safety. Whilst it is a significant symbolic gesture, the doves are only part of the event for a minute, before flying off. Many birds will not survive post-release: doves live in flocks, mate for life and do not fare well as solitary birds. If they do not meet up with another flock of doves, their survival rates are low.

We would also ask that you no longer use sky lanterns due to the significant fire risks associated with them.

A boat release by South East London Sands during Baby Loss Awareness Week in 2018.
A boat release by South East London Sands during Baby Loss Awareness Week in 2018.

Despite the bad weather, South East London Sands held a rice paper boat release down the River Quaggy in Manor Park. Families were helped to create small boats out of rice paper and other materials from the park. The boats were then released down the river as an act of remembrance. Victoria from the group said, “The boat release was good. There’s definitely potential for this type of event in the future – but perhaps a bit more straightforward from a crafting point of view!”


When planning events, consider the impact on wildlife and the environment, by thinking of eco-friendly ways to mark the occasion. Please have a chat with your Network Coordinator to come up with ideas.

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