For thousands of years, communities have commemorated their dead with funeral rituals. It is a tradition that is found in every culture and society on earth. These ceremonies help communities to retain hope throughout a difficult time, while bringing order and structure to life's most unsettling experience. It remains a meaningful rite of passage.
By the time the funeral is arranged, there is nothing further that can be done for the deceased. Instead, the funeral focuses on the important psychological, spiritual and social needs of the survivors.
The absence of an appropriate funeral service can worsen what is already a very difficult time. Friends and family members may be left feeling isolated and unable to express their sense of loss. A well-planned and relevant funeral service can bring a great deal of comfort to family members. Providing spiritual direction at a time when it is needed most is one of the significant benefits of a funeral service.
The primary role of the funeral service is to encourage acceptance of the death. Healing and understanding occur as a natural part of the grief journey, but recognising that a loved one will not return must come first. A funeral also enables family members to give a place in history to their loved one. Remembering a friend or relative through shared experience enables survivors to find comfort in circumstances that no longer include this person.
The benefits of holding a funeral service extend to the wider community. The process of re-integration into the community is an important aspect of reconciling grief and begins with the funeral service.
Most importantly, an appropriate service creates a context for the feelings of grief and loss that are experienced. The funeral ceremony can help you to validate these emotions as a wholly natural part of the grief journey.
The loss of a loved one can be a devastating event but growing through that loss is an important aspect of the recovery. The importance of the funeral lies in this painful, but invaluable, lesson.