While everyone experiences loss differently, the ritualistic nature of funerals and cremation holds space for each unique grief journey. That’s probably why these ceremonies have existed in some form throughout all of human history, and why we still see so many interesting funeral traditions today. In many ways, funerals and cremation signify the beginning of a confronting healing process, but it’s not all about the grief. Here are some (of many) reasons why funerals and cremation matter.
Ceremony bring structure to life’s most unsettling experience
Funerals and cremation remain a meaningful rite of passage as they offer a sense of order or certainty at a time when everything is often turned upside-down. This is because the ceremonious aspect of laying a loved one to rest guides us in what to do, when we really don’t know what to do. Even the act of making funeral arrangements can provide purpose and direction during a period that can, for some people, be characterised by emotional chaos.
By the time the funeral is arranged, there is nothing further that can be done for the deceased. The next step then is then to be part of the ceremony itself, which encourages the acceptance of the death and acknowledgement that life will need to be restructured around the loss.
A well-planned and relevant funeral service also provides spiritual direction, and focuses on the important psychological and social needs of the survivors.
Funerals bring people together
It’s easy to neglect the social needs of those left behind when we are thinking about why it matters to commemorate a lost loved one. But the clue lies in that very word itself: from the verb commemorare in Latin, it combines com – meaning ‘altogether’ – and memorare, ‘relate’. This powerfully highlights the importance of holding an appropriate service to create a context for a shared response to loss.
A funeral or cremation can also give relatives and friends an opportunity to express the love and respect they feel for someone who they were strongly connected to.
Often, just seeing how much others care can help a family adjust to their loss. In this way, the process of the devastated family’s reintegration into the community after a life-altering event can begin at the funeral service.
For some people, the word ‘funeral’ misrepresents the fact that they may want a simple farewell, or for loved ones not to go to too much trouble with arrangements. Ultimately, the way in which we say “goodbye” could go by any number of names, and it does matter, regardless of what you choose to call it.
Planning and attending a meaningful funeral or cremation is a privilege, as it can have a lasting and profoundly important impact on the lives of those in attendance. In many ways, the funeral is a gift to the person who’s left the world, but it is also a gift to those still in it.
Make sure you get the gift you want by putting it in your Will today.