Last week I lost a friend and ex-work colleague to cancer.

The world we inhabit now makes it more likely that we all have friends and family scattered across the globe.  My friend lived in the US, so it was not possible to attend her funeral.

The result is that I found myself feeling very sad and was denied the chance to say goodbye at her memorial ceremony.

I decided to make a small wreath of flowers from my garden and walked to a jewel of a beach near my home in the Highlands.  It’s a remote spot and thankfully there was no-one else there.

As I dropped the flowers into the receding tide and watched them float out towards the Atlantic, I reflected on the happy times we had had together, her amazing personality and all the things she had achieved in her life.

It’s clear to me how important funerals are – it’s in our nature, as humans, to share the happy and the sad times.

Funerals help you come to terms with loss, it’s the start the grieving process.

We live in a much more connected world online, but a potentially a much lonelier place, in the real world.  May be it is time to re-think how we have funerals, to include those who can’t be there.

By Anne Widdop