- Personal Significance
First, we must establish the personal significance of the person who died. We need to discover how important this person was to us. It is almost as if we must inventory our loss before we can grieve it. This is necessary because we really do not know the value of a person until they are gone. Just have a loved one have to endure a risky surgical procedure and have to face the fact that you might lose that person. You will have found value to that person far beyond how valuable you may have even thought they were in your life prior to that. We don’t know what we have until we have lost it. That is why we must establish the significance this person had in our lives before we can move on toward our recovery.
Planning is an act of love. Some folks have tried to paint the funeral as plastic, costly, meaningless and even pagan. They seem to think the sophisticated thing to do is deny death and ignore the inner need to express love toward a loved one who has died.
Our efforts to avoid viewing often leave far too much to the imagination. Imagination will almost always make it worse than it was in reality.
Gatherings provide a chance to talk. Visitation time(s) at the funeral home or friends dropping by the home give us the chance to begin telling the stories about our loved one. We establish significance as we talk about the person. The stories we tell will one day become the great memories that stay in our house forever.
The funeral gives us permission to grieve. Our society seems to see grief as an enemy to be avoided. Some think cultured people do not show grief in public. They are to carry their heads high and never show any sign of cracking. My friends, grief is not an enemy. It is nature’s way of healing a broken heart. We are actually doing the best job of handling grief when we are grieving. The more we express our grief the sooner we work through this process that leads to health. Nothing I know of gives us a better chance and more freedom of expression than the funeral experience.
- Unique and Personal
Families now feel free to eulogize their lived one or they may ask a close friend to do so. Many families bring personal items and pictures to the service to further personalize the event. Music is now more likely to be some favorite song the person loved or a song that meant a great deal to them.
The funeral is not about caskets and rituals. The funeral is about mental health and healing. When we have inventoried our loss and began the healing process of grief, then – and only then – has the funeral hone its vital work in our lives.
Of course I always respect the opinion, values and feelings of the family first and foremost. My reason for writing this piece is not to minimalize anyone’s choices but to provide food for thought. A consideration to make ahead of time. The one who dies is where they feel they are after death. Those left behind on this planet are the ones that then need to heal and go on. While we memorialize the uniqueness of the life lived, I feel funerals are services for the living.
As always, if you have any questions concerning this or have personal questions you don’t want to post online, feel free to contact me by phone or email. Mark.Kalinowski@Dignitymemorial.com or 860-848-0342
- The information provided above is a culmination of text from our brochure “Why Have A Funeral?” written by a team of people with advanced degrees in grieving and bereavement along with this author’s input and personal and professional opinion.