|Why A Funeral|
why a funeral“Like a ship’s rudder!” As the rudder of a huge vessel gives direction on the stormy seas, funeral directors help guide grieving persons on a healthy, emotional course of recovery. So do the clergy. Your funeral director’s service is the funeral. It provides a satisfactory environment for mourning and expressing grief. There are many parts to the funeral, each meeting a need of those who survive. We describe these parts below.
Helpful purposes are served by the custom of visitation (viewing of the body).
Because seeing helps us to believe, viewing the deceased makes those present more aware of death’s reality.
Preparation or restoration helps modify and remove marks of accidents and disease. Restoration provides an acceptable image for recalling a deceased’s appearance. Even for children, viewing is therapeutic because it allows a child to comprehend death in a meaningful way.
Body presence during a visitation or wake provides a natural climate in which to talk about the deceased. Tears need not cause self-consciousness for survivors or visitors. While there is pain, it is hurt that helps heal. “Joy expressed is joy increased; grief expressed is grief diminished.”
Dr. Erich Lindemann, a pioneer on wise ways to cope with grief, states that the most important part of the whole funeral process is, “the moment of truth that comes when living persons confront the fact of death by looking at the body.” He continues, “Grief is a feeling. If you deny it, you have difficulty coping with it, but if you face it, you start the process of healthful mourning!” The funeral with the body present, for most people, becomes an experience of value as they work through the sociological, psychological and, where desired, the religious needs that are a part of the grief experience.
For those with a religious faith, the funeral service is a spiritual occasion. You will want to consider a service with your clergyman officiating. The religious funeral is directed toward meeting your spiritual needs. It should be public so that friends can share with you their emotional and spiritual support and participate in affirmation of belief.
A “humanistic” or “secular service” for those without a specific belief may provide an alternative method of giving family and friends the opportunity to share their love, support and sorrow.
Yes, the procession is meaningful too, because it allows the family to consolidate their thinking as they recap the last day or two, particularly the funeral service just prior to the procession. “What does this all mean to me?” is a question which can be reflected upon on the way to the cemetery or other committal site.
Perhaps nothing is more powerfully final than the committal of remains. It has been said that at committal, survivors recognize in a difficult but necessary way that they must now make the painful break with the past and look forward to a new life with its challenges and opportunities.