Why Do We have Funerals?
Funerals are for the living, the family members who have lost a loved one. This service helps meet a number of the emotional needs of the family. It is similar to other ceremonies in our lives that recognize important events. Unlike other ceremonies, the funeral helps a family begin the healing process after a loss.
What is the value of a funeral?
Why do we have funerals? Let's look at an illustration.
Vernie Fountain, founder of the Fountain National Academy, recently stated these observations in an interview:
"Anywhere in the world you go, there are certain constants present in each society. In some of the oriental societies, when you are met, there is some sign of greeting. In oriental countries, it's a bow. It may be a kiss on the cheek or a handshake, as in America, along with a greeting such as, Hello, Good morning, or How are you? These initiated a point of contact with another human being.
The other thing that we see as we grow up, is that when we part company with another human being, there is some illustration - exchanging a hug, a handshake or a bow, and there's something we do fairly consistently. We say, 'Goodbye' or 'See you tomorrow at work', etc.
So if I came to your house, sat down at your table and had a cup of coffee and we were having this wonderful conversation and then all of a sudden stood up and walked out of the house without saying something, you would feel out of balance. You're going to feel like, 'What did I do?' 'Did I make Vernie mad?' Now, if I wanted to correct that situation so that you wouldn't feel bad, I'd shake your hand and say 'Goodbye. See you later'.
Which brings us back to the wife who has hugged her husband goodbye this morning, and 15 minutes later he's killed in an accident. She will have an inherent need to have some time - before the funeral service - to tell him 'Goodbye'. This is the value of the funeral that we may offer the family, and we must be very careful that we do not take away this very important time for our families to say 'Goodbye' for the last time."
Each part has purpose
The many different parts of a funeral each have specific values to the bereaved family:
- Seeing the deceased person helps a person overcome denial that the death has occurred. Until this is accepted, no progress can be made in resolving a person's grief. Without the body of the deceased present, most families may have difficulty resolving their feelings of grief.
- Visitation, or gathering friends and family together at the funeral home, helps provide emotional support so needed at this time.
- The funeral ceremony can be individualized to reflect the life of the deceased. By including religious beliefs, reflections of occupations, hobbies of the deceased, and memories of the family and friends, we can make the ceremony meaningful and comforting to the family members. This time of remembrance and memorialization often draws meaning from the deceased's life and reminds us that we will never forget them.
- Committal or burial of the remains is the final act we can do for our loved one, by placing them in their final resting place.
importance of embalming
Many families ask why they should consider having their loved one embalmed. We want to share with you a few of the benefits to consider when making this decision for your lost loved one.
- It stops the clock so you can take your time to say goodbye
- It can restore the normal appearance of the deceased so the last memory picture you have is not of the last few days of a wasting disease.
These are important because:
- You can have all the grandchildren see her in her normal state with her hair done and her makeup, just as she was at family gatherings.
- It is a tribute to the pride that a person had in their appearance when they were alive.
- It gives family members who weren't able to be present the opportunity to say goodbye rather than the rush of having everybody race to the “death-bed” of your deceased family member.
What about Eco Embalming or Green Embalming?
- For those who don’t like the use of naturally occurring chemicals such as formaldehyde, which is most often used in long term preservation techniques, there are natural alternatives known as “green options”. These use naturally occurring oils and other ingredients to achieve temporary preservation and restoration of the normal appearance. This again gives the family the option of more time to gather in support of each other as they say goodbye to the deceased.