Why We Have Had Funerals Since the Beginning of Time

The Multi colored triangle depicts the many reasons why we have had funerals since the beginning of time.  The most practical reason is on the bottom of the pyramid, the most spiritual and significant is at the top. 

Reality – When someone we love dies, we are faced with acknowledging a difficult reality.  It is hard to truly accept the finality of death, but the funeral helps us begin to do so.  At first we accept it with our heads, and only over time do we come to accept it with our hearts.

Recall – Funerals help us begin to convert our relationship with the person who died from one of presence to one of memory.  When we come together to share our memories, we also learn things we didn’t know and we see how the person’s life touched others.

Support – Funeral are social gatherings that bring together people who cared about the person who died.  This reason for having funerals is especially important to remember if the person who died liked to say “I don’t want a funeral., Don’t go to any trouble.” Funerals are in remembrance of a person who died, but they are for the living.  Those who loved the person need and benefit from having a special time to support one another in grief.

Expression – So many thoughts and feelings fill our minds and our hearts when someone we love dies.  Collectively, these thoughts and feelings are what we mean by the term “grief.” In other words, grief – by crying, talking to others, sharing memories, taking part in a funeral ceremony – we are mourning.  Mourning is grief communicated outwardly.  When we grieve but do not mourn, our sadness can feel unbearable and our many other emotions can fester inside of us.  Mourning helps us begin to heal.  The funeral is an essential time for mourning.

Meaning –  Did the person I love have a good life? What is life anyway? Why do we die? There are no simple explanations, but the funeral gives us a time and a place to hold the questions in our hearts and begin to find our way to answers that give us peace. 

Transcendence – Funerals have a way of getting us to wake up – to think about what we truly care about and how we want to spend our precious remaining days.  Ultimately, funerals help us embrace the wonder of life and death and remind us to live deeply, with joy and love.