Did you know that the best way to move forward is sometimes to look backwards?
To “put the past in the past and move on”, as we are often encouraged to do, to rush through the process of farewelling a loved one, do nothing to mark their passing or to just hold a party and not allow ourselves time to face our loss, or embrace and deal with our raw feelings, potentially leaves us carrying emotional scars and baggage for years to come. Time alone will not heal grief.
“In my experience, remembering the past is the very thing that eventually makes hoping for the future possible,” says world-renowned grief counsellor and author Dr. Alan Wolfelt. “… Those who fail to go backward before marching forward after a loss, often find themselves stuck in the morass of carried grief.”
That’s why Burstows Funerals co-director Don Burstow says, whatever form you wish it to take, a funeral service should commemorate the life of your loved one and give comfort and a safe space for family and friends to express their personal loss.
“A funeral service is about the deceased and honouring their life, but it is largely for the benefit of survivors, and because of this it is a very important aspect of the healing process,” Mr. Burstow said.
Funerals and Ritual
Each with more than 40 years of experience in working closely with grief, Dr Wolfelt and Mr Burstow agree that funerals and ritual play a vital part in survivors’ healing journey, lessening feelings of isolation and validating shared emotions.
“Throughout history, when the import of an event or transition in our lives is more profound than everyday words and actions can capture, we’ve had the wisdom to turn to ritual … to our ancestors, our holy or touchstone texts, our traditions – before we celebrated what would come next,” Dr. Wolfelt wrote in The Paradoxes of Mourning.
Mr. Burstow says the primary role of the funeral service is “to encourage acceptance of the death, to allow expression of grief, to share that experience and find comfort.”
Giving Time to Memories
Memories provide an ongoing connection to the person who has died, as we deal with missing their physical presence. “…On the emotional and spiritual planes, (the mourners’) relationship with the person who died continues because they will always have a relationship of memory,” Dr. Wolfelt writes.
He states that funeral directors have a special role to play in helping families and friends “learn how to look backward through the lens of memory”. This includes allowing time to talk, laugh and cry about favourite, as well as potentially painful memories, during the funeral arrangement conference, and to help mourners incorporate photos, objects, music and memories into the funeral service.
Mr. Burstow says funeral directors know that a vital part of mourning is “telling the story” of who that person was, their relationship to family and friends and why their life was important in ways large and small.
“Because stories of love and loss take time, patience and unconditional acceptance, they serve as powerful antidotes to a modern society all too often preoccupied with getting mourners to hurry forward,” Dr. Wolfelt confirms.
Organisation and Aftercare
It is important that each funeral is individual and an appropriate tribute and farewell to your loved one. “Rushing through the planning process confuses efficiency with effectiveness,” Dr Wolfelt notes.
With Burstows Funerals, you enjoy the peace of mind of dealing directly with experts in the field and a family company with more than 120 years of service to the local community – people who have time for you, who truly care and who you can trust.
It is Burstows’ honour to guide those arranging a funeral through the legal, practical and emotional elements surrounding a death, to ensure you are fully and transparently informed, and that you receive counselling where desired as part of Burstows Funerals’ aftercare.
We remember always that funerals are important because life is important.