Why are funerals important?

A funeral is the beginning step for healthy healing. It is the beginning of the grief journey, which allows us to comprehend the reality of the death, recall memories, receive and give support, express our emotions, and find new meaning in our life.

A funeral is one of many rituals we may experience in our lives. Baptism is a ritual of a birth and acceptance into a church family. Birthdays are rituals that celebrate another year of a life of someone we care about. A wedding is a ritual that is shared by two people uniting their lives.

A funeral is an acknowledgement that someone has died. It is an opportunity to express our thoughts and feelings about that person. By having a funeral you have a time and place to remember and share memories of that person.

A story that I use often is the situation of someone who chooses not to have a funeral. In this situation, the person who is struggling with the loss of a loved one is doing ok at the moment. They decide to go to the grocery store. While they are wandering in the store, a neighbor comes up to them to express their sympathy. This kind neighbor never had a chance to do this before because there was no funeral. Now this person, who was doing ok at the moment, is caught off guard. They are now upset and cannot even remember what they needed at the store.

A funeral allows you to have verbal and physical support. You are telling everyone “Come and support me”. By not having a funeral you are telling everyone “Don’t come and support me”. Sometimes words are not enough, but a hug is. You are unable to have that support and comfort that is helpful for healthy healing in the grieving and mourning process without a funeral.

Written by Kathleen Ahlgrim

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