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Why Have a Funeral?

Considerations to be made when contemplating funeral services

  • 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.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Mark T. Kalinowski June 02, 2012 at 07:20 PM
I certainly respect everyone's personal opinion and feelings on this or any matter. You have your reasons and they are unique and personal to you. As I said in previous blogs, if it's not illegal, immoral or unethical I'm on board and this is certainly one of those times I would just respect your wishes. I do however, respectfully request that you ask those who will be left to handle their grieving how THEY feel about the matter as they will be the ones coping. You will already be in the place your personal beliefs, religion, or tradition tells you you'll be. You therefore won't personally have to deal with any grieving or sorrow but all your friends, family and co-workers will. Just food for thought. Thank you for sharing your feelings.
Skeptic June 02, 2012 at 10:56 PM
This Kalinowski guy is a funeral director. He is trolling for business. I googled his phone number and it's Berberich & Helmboldt Funeral Service Inc. in Uncasville. I want to know the names of the people who have "advanced degrees in grieving and bereavement" and the names of the supposed colleges or universities that granted such "degrees".
Mark T. Kalinowski June 02, 2012 at 11:17 PM
"This Kalinowski guy is a funeral director"....absolutely as my blog has said since it's inception. The purpose for these blogs is because during my career I've heard a lot of questions repeated and so I'm trying to do a public service to avoid common misunderstandings and generalities made, The information I give is generic such as my 3-part series I did for Veterans and benefits they are entitled to receive. That is universal at ANY funeral home. The psychology of grieving and bereavement is general and non-specific to a sign on the front of a funeral home. If you want a copy of the brochure, stop in at either of our locations and take one. They are free to the public any time. Also your google search is about 12 years outdated as neither Berberich or Helmboldt have been involved for at least that long. Always good to have a "skeptic" to help those who are honest and sincere further prove they are just that......honest and sincere. Anonymity and negativity are truly bad combinations.
Skeptic June 03, 2012 at 12:19 AM
So who are the people with the "advanced degrees in grieving and bereavement" and from what schools did they receive those degrees?
Mark T. Kalinowski June 03, 2012 at 12:30 AM
With reservation for supplying answers to anonymous naysayers I will research that when I get back to work and post it for everyone to see as I don't bring work home with me.
constance stripling June 03, 2012 at 07:02 PM
A snake oil sales man would have a better answer. Don't site folks with advanced degrees in greiving and bereavment withouut being readily able to name at least one source. If you must go home to research your own "experts" then you don't know enough or you are simply dodging a legitimate business question. As it stands your blog appears to nothing more than your opinion. This sounds to me like you are simply trawlling for business in the guise of empathetic concern. Yuk! BTW, I am not a naysayer nor anonymous. So who are these people you used as "experts" or contributors? And no, I expect an answer from you here, not in your funeral home.
Sunshine June 03, 2012 at 09:28 PM
OK, who cares if the guy is trolling for business or not, he is stating his opinion, however biased it is. I think funerals are a good thing. It gives your family and friends a place and time to be with each other and mark both your life and your passing. I do not like funeral homes though, they have always given me the creeps. The best is after the corpse is planted and all go to the house or wherever (the house is always best) and drink and cry and tell stories about the departed, and even catch up with family or mutual acquaintances they have not seen and will not till the next funeral, wedding or whatever. That is the kind of sendoff that has value for the survivors.
Elissa Bass June 03, 2012 at 09:36 PM
I'm not sure why some users here are piling on Mr. Kalinowski, but yes, this blog is his opinion. That's the definition of a blog - someone's opinion. Mr. Kalinowski has taken time out from his professional business - which he clearly describes - to provide useful information to the public about a host of issues that usually come up for people at a very emotional and confusing time in their lives. Why "Skeptic" and "constance stripling" feel the need to go on the attack here is beyond me, and frankly beyond reason. If you have something useful to add in the conversation here about having a funeral or not having a funeral, then please, join in. If you are here to simply throw punches at a person who has made the effort to share his expertise, then go somewhere else.
Phyllis Nelson June 03, 2012 at 09:49 PM
Wow, I found Mr. Kalinowskis' column helpful, especially since we have lost three parents in the last four years. The remembrances of each of them were unique from just a small gathering of close family in a small cemetery to bury ashes to a full military funeral at Arlington. I guess I am not understanding the vitriol since Mr. Kalinowski stated up front what he does for a living and I would say by virtue of his long career, would be called an expert. I am sure that each of you considers yourselves experts in whatever field you work in. Ultimately, if the column sets your teeth on edge, don't read it.
Skeptic June 03, 2012 at 10:31 PM
"Mr. Kalinowski stated up front what he does for a living and I would say by virtue of his long career, would be called an expert." Where does it say that? And where is the vitriol? I post on Patch because so-called "experts" are always posting things that they expect me to swallow without questioning their motives or their claims to expertise.
Mark T. Kalinowski June 04, 2012 at 11:52 AM
The author of that particular brochure is Doug Manning. Here's his bio: "As a counselor, author, lecturer, and minister, Doug Manning addresses the subjects of grief, aging, and personal relationships across the United States and Canada. Doug was one of the early pioneers in the study of grief. His study began when a friend said, "Don't take my grief away from me," after the death of a child. The study of grief led Doug to start some of the first bereavements groups. He now sees grief as the natural response to any loss. His lectures deal with the loss following divorce, displacement, loss of health, and loss of worth, as well as the loss following a death. His counseling focuses on the effects of loss on marriages, children, personal relationships, and substance abuse." And no.....his brochure doesn't list what schools he attended. References: #1 http://insightbooks.com/Default.aspx?tabid=80 #2 http://www.insightbooks.com/Default.aspx?tabid=78 #3 http://www.amazon.com/Special-Care-Series-Doug-Manning/dp/1892785021 #4 http://www.amazon.com/Doug-W.-Manning/e/B001IR1PJY #5 http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/6230/Doug_Manning/index.aspx #6 http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/278309.Doug_Manning #7 http://www.twifordfh.com/grief-links/grief-video-series/ #8 http://www.reellifewisdom.com/node/11 #9 http://www.graumlichfuneralhome.com/grief.shtml #10 http://search.amarillo.com/fast-elements.php?type=standard&profile=amarillo&querystring=%22DOUG%20MANNING%22
Lisa Beth June 04, 2012 at 01:51 PM
"Don't site folks with advanced degrees in greiving and bereavment withouut being readily able to name at least one source." Yes, please do not site such things. However, you may CITE them all you like and sources are always appreciated. Like my picking on the above person's spelling; this thread is pathetic. Death is part of Life get over it. How you choose to handle it is up to you but jumping this man probably isn't the correct course of action. Just a suggestion.
Mark T. Kalinowski June 04, 2012 at 02:21 PM
This has truly been the most awkward series of posts I've ever seen. I now understand why more people don't blog. The word ridiculous doesn't do justice to the comments of people who apparently expect me to cite chapter, verse and definition from memory. Then when I make the effort to do so with pinpoint accuracy and references to back it up, get jumped on again for not having my resource materials with me 24/7 so I can answer ASAP anyone's question. I never expected this when I set out to just provide information for the common good. While this is my last post (I have better things to do with my spare time than be your target) I assure you I will continue to keep all of you in my prayers so you won't have to keep wandering through your own personal desert. May you find peace and happiness sooner than later. God bless.
Karen Loftis Rankowitz June 04, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Hello Mark, I am sorry to read that this will be your last post. However, I understand your reasons for it. Personally, I found your blog posts full of information for the taking should anyone choose to do so. The topic in which you write about is a difficult one, mainly due to the emotions of those left having to make death decisions rather than life plans. For what it’s worth, when my brother, Jim, died suddenly 17 years ago, and more recently when my children lost classmates who were also friends (3 within a year and a half), and I lost a personal friend a few months ago, I was so grateful for the means in which to grieve, console, be consoled - quite simply, I was comforted to know that I was not alone, nor were my children, in our bereavement. I commend you on your efforts to provide the best information you felt would be helpful. Thank you for taking time out of your day to do what you could…it’s appreciated. Karen Loftis Rankowitz
Mark June 04, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Excellent blog very well thought out and informative, Thank you for taking the time to write it! I once was in a situation where I was in charge when the eldest in our family died. (She always dealt with these things) Perhaps if you aren't fed up with some responses here you would take the time to blog about how a person goes about setting things up when a loved one dies or when you know it will happen in short order? You know like who to call (police? Ambulance if already deceased?) and how to proceed. My mom died at home under hospice palliative care that I managed, A very confusing time for many and a guide would be very helpful.
Mark T. Kalinowski June 04, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Thank you for sharing. While I was still a police officer then and not in this field yet I recall being in attendance at Jimmy's services and still sometimes reflect on his life cut way to short when I'm near his grave at St. Joseph Cemetery. Personally I never had to go through that as I am blessed enough to still have my sister (only sibling) and both my parents. I appreciate your comments.
MisterSpuddy June 04, 2012 at 10:12 PM
Seems to me that funerals and memorial services provide closure for many. Sorry to see so many people being persnickety. Don't let them throw you, Mark, maybe write for a different venue with a different audience.
Karen Loftis Rankowitz June 04, 2012 at 10:35 PM
What a comfort it is to know that you still think of Jimmy. I do too, but not with the sorrow I once had. My memories of him are very much alive (and of the happiness he brought) and he is talked about often to my children and with my parents. On another note...as a writer one thing I have found is - that as fresh and painful the wound of criticsm (where it concerns one's writing) is, the scars you wear will toughen your skin to the onslaught of future aggressors. This new, stronger skin will allow your passion to be persistent. If you have touched even one person with your words then you have accomplished a great thing...one that has made a difference - specifically - to that person.
Elissa Bass June 05, 2012 at 08:33 PM
Karen and Mark and Susan, thank you for your words of encouragement to Mark! I hope he takes them to heart and comes back to blog again, as I agree that they are informative, especially about topics that confuse and scare many of us. Patch takes very seriously its place in the community as a platform open to all, and we will not tolerate bullies. Strong opinions are welcome, but playground antics are not. Those two users who were abusive to Mark on this post have been suspended from Patch. With as much dialogue as we have going on these days, and especially here, it is important to hold it to a higher standard and we are trying very high to maintain that standard. I appreciate everyone's thoughtfulness here.
MisterSpuddy June 05, 2012 at 10:02 PM
@Elissa and Mark I think the subject is off-putting to many who want to deny the concept of mortality. We've all lost someone close to us and we all deal (or not) in our own way.
Brigid June 05, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Dear Mr. Kalinowski, Thank you for your thought provoking blog. There is a new thing out there that I call "anonymous blog rage'. People who would never say such nasty things to your face find courage to inflict pain on others via an anonymous forum. Some people lead miserable lives and feel the need to inflict their pain on others.
Teresa Little Smith June 06, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Mr. Kalinowski, Thank you so much for taking the personal time to write such a blog and to share the benefit of your professional expertise with readers of Patch. I, for one, am grateful, and appreciate your efforts. As I believe we all have something to share with others, I do hope you will continue your blog, because someone will always benefit from it. Isn't that what we all should be doing? Supporting each other in the best ways we can because that's the right thing to do? I am grateful, and bless you for your efforts. Teresa Little Smith
CAROLE GRALIA June 27, 2012 at 04:31 PM
HOW SAD
CAROLE GRALIA June 27, 2012 at 04:56 PM
WOW......IT IS SO SAD TO READ SOME OF THE NEGITIVE FEELINGS AS TO DEATH AND HUMAN DISPOSAL. I PICK UP MORE AND MORE FROM FOLKS THEY DO NOT WANT TO DEAL WITH IT. JUST HAVE THEM CREMATE ME AND DO WHATEVER WITH THE ASHES! YOUR TELLING ME YOU LIVE YOU WHOLE LIFE AND JUST WANT TO BE DISPOSED OF LIKE TRASH? SOME SAY FUNERALS ARE TO EXPENSIVE.........EXCUSE ME BUT HOW MANY HOMES HAVE YOU BOUGHT IN YOUR LIFE? BOATS? AND DON'T FORGET CARS MAYBE EVEN RV'S AND HOW MUCH WAS DROPPED ON VACATIONS CLOTHES??? THE YOUNG WHO "DON'T WANT TO BE BOTHERED" WITH THE ILL , OLD OR DIEING......IT'S JUST ME, ME ME........I WONDER HOW ONE DAY WHEN THEY ARE OLD AND FRAIL THEY WILL TAKE BEING TOSSED OUT LIKE FRIDAYS TRASH? A FUNERAL IS PART OF US AS HUMANS AND WE NEED TO GET RESPECT BACK IN LIVES. NONE OF US LIKE IT BUT IT WILL HAPPEN TO EACH AND EVERYONE AND IT DOES NOT HURT TO FEEL PAIN AND SHED TEARS IF YOU ACTUALLY LOVED A PERSON. MR.KALINOWSKI YOU PRESENTED A SUBJECT I HAD NO IDEA HAD BECOME MORE UNCARING THEN I EVEN IMAGINED AND IT HURTS VERY BADLY. FOR THOSE OF US WHO STILL CARE TO TREAT HUMAN REMAINS WITH LOVE AND RESPECT YOUR SERVICES ARE NEEDED AND GLAD YOUR OUT THERE. PERSONALLY I FEEL THE PURCHASE OF OUR FUNERALS AND CRYPTS WAS AN INVESTMENT IN OURSELVES AND THANK GOODNESS WE DID IT. WE EARNED IT AND WE ARE ENTITLED TO SPEND IT ON OURSELVES RATHER THEN LEAVE TO THE HEARTLESS.

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