It is important to recognize that funerals are for the living. It is through the funeral process that a number of emotional needs are met for those who grieve. The bereaved family can better adjust to life following the loss of a family member by having a funeral service for the deceased. The funeral is the basis for the acceptance of death, affirming the dignity of the deceased to provide the expression of emotion and provide comfort for the family.
The individual needs of the family are met by having a funeral for a member of the family who has died. The needs are met in many ways:
It allows for the normal expressions of emotions through crying.
There is freedom to verbalize feelings.
Supports is provided by friends and family.
It helps to emphasize the reality of death.
Expressing your religious beliefs through the funeral process allows you to be grounded in your faith which may be your source of strength and comfort in the days to come.
If done correctly, comfort is provided by the beauty of the funeral.
It allows for self-denial as an expression of guilt.
Viewing of the dead human remains helps to establish the realization of death. Family and friends will come to support you as well as give testimony to the meaningful relationship they had with your loved one. You come together to share the love and the loss.
It allows for an expression of the communitys concern for the bereaved family.
Modern funeral service has evolved through the ages as a specialized, highly skilled care taking profession. Mortuary arts and sciences today embrace all the functions incident to death and burial ceremonies. The present day mortician has greatly advanced his art and science to such a point as to make death and the ensuing grief less unpleasant and more understandable through proper service and psychology and it satisfied the human desire to memorialize the personality of the deceased. What has been a gruesome, weird, and frightening experiences through all the centuries, is now presented with sacredness, beauty, and rational understanding by the specialized function of organization and direction of the funeral practitioner. The primary function of modern funeral service is not as much in the care of the dead as it is in the service of the living through the provision of satisfying memorial according to individual desires.
The customs that are traditional in funeral rites are evolved through the years with slight modification by time. Custom changes very slowly as evidenced by the practices in vogue today. People hold tightly to conventional ways and are reluctant to change through fear of public criticism. The customs traditional to certain religious, racial, fraternal, and regional groups are strictly adhered to and must be understood and complied. Modern funeral services recognize the power and influence of customs and adapts social changes to conform to the conventional demands of customs.
There are basic similarities in all funeral customs. The most similar are:
The announcement of the death to the family and community from which support is given.
Provisions to care for the deceased person.
Some form of ceremony that gives support to the family and memorialization of the deceased.
Because death has occurred an acceptable method of disposition of the dead human body is required (earth burial, cremation, etc.)
Today, funerals are usually arranged and conducted by licensed and trained funeral directors who handle all the technical arrangements of a funeral as well as counsel on many of the personal ones.
The services he/she provides include removing the deceased from the place of death, obtaining the required legal documents, preparing the body for viewing, arranging for facilities for visitation, funeral service, and final disposition, and transporting the deceased and mourners to the place of final disposition.
A funeral is an important part of grieving, and often the first step in the healing process. For thousands of years, funerals have been the preferred means of expressing grief and paying tribute to loved ones.
When dealing with loss and grief, there is no single solution that meets the needs of every individual. The type of service chosen is largely based on the personal preferences of both the survivors and the deceased. The important thing is that you acknowledge the passing of a loved one in a way that is meaningful and helpful in your healing, and that you realize you are not alone. Your local funeral home and licensed funeral director are trained to help you through this difficult time.