Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.
International and noted author, education and grief counselor.
“I have seen many people in counseling at the Center for Loss and Life Transition who, at the time of death, thought it would be ‘easier’ not to have a funeral service. They end up trying to go around their grief instead of through it – resulting in what I term, ‘living in the shadow of the ghosts of grief’.”
“I always say that when words are inadequate, have a ceremony! Funerals are not about closure, they are about a good beginning. Blessed are those who mourn.”
Why Funerals Are Important?
As far back as anthropologists can trace civilization, humans have recognized a death with a ritual or ceremony. In some cultures funerals were large gatherings with uninhibited, public displays of grief; mourners tore their clothes or even injured themselves to demonstrate their emotional pain. In others the dead were buried with their favorite belongings to comfort them in a next world. Today, of course, people all over the world still commemorate their loved ones with ceremonies that reflect their religious or cultural attitudes toward death.
You might wonder why funerals are so important that virtually every culture has them in one form or another. There are several reasons.
Just as we have rituals for other passages of life, such as graduations and weddings, we need a ritual for death — one of the most significant of all passages. Funerals don’t just recognize that a life was lived. They offer survivors a chance to gather and recall what mattered to them about the deceased’s life: his or her accomplishments, friendship, guidance or love.
The funeral ritual also helps the survivors to heal emotionally. When someone we love dies, we experience grief, which, though it hurts, is not something to avoid. Grief is part of the healing process that allows us to separate ourselves from the deceased person and go on with our lives.
An important step in grieving is expressing the emotions that may accompany death: anger, guilt, fear, sorrow and depression. A funeral gives mourners a place to express those feelings. Funerals stimulate mourners to talk about the deceased, one of the first steps toward accepting the death. The funeral brings together a community of mourners who, by supporting each other, can help themselves through a difficult period.
For thousands of years, funerals have allowed survivors to express their feelings about the death of someone they love. According to noted grief educator Alan Wolfelt, the funeral ceremony helps mourners:
- Acknowledge someone has died,
- Say good-bye,
- Remember the person who died and encourages us to share those memories with others
- Affirm the worth of their relationship with the person who died,
- Provide a social support system,
- Search for the meaning of life and death,
- Offer continuity and hope for the living.
Meaning, funeral ceremonies are rites of passage that help survivors accept a life without the person who died.
What is Cremation?
Cremation is a process for preparing a body for its final disposition. Through cremation, the body is reduced to small skeletal fragments by intense heat and evaporation. The cremated remains are placed in an urn for final disposition.
With Cremation you have all the choices that you have with a traditional burial.
- A gathering can be held to receive friends at the funeral home, church or another location.
- A memorial service or service of remembrance, before or after cremation, can be held to honor the person who has died. This can take place in the funeral home, church, or place of your choice.
- Favorite musical selections, readings and remembrances of family members are important choices in planning.
- A graveside service is another option preferred by many. Whether it is private, or for friends and family, it is an important final moment.
- Cremated remains may be placed in an urn for final disposition. Options are burial, above ground entombment, scattering, permanent possession, or a combination of these.
In most cases, a licensed individual is required to transport the body to the crematorium and handle all necessary legal forms and contingencies. The funeral professional at Hansen-Spear is licensed to serve you in this regard. Besides assisting in the legal aspects of your cremation arrangement, the experienced funeral professional will also provide you with his or her guidance pertaining to all the options which have been described on this page, with personal, individual concern for your particular desires.
Other items to consider to make a service more meaningful
- song or hymn
- scripture reading
- poem or quote
- flower or memento
- hobby or sport
- charity or cause
- family photo…or memory
Do you want someone special to:
- deliver your eulogy
- share a special reading
- lead a prayer
- sing a song or play an instrument
MeaningFunerals.com – An Online Guide for Families
“MeaningfulFunerals.com was created through a collaboration between Batesville and Dr. Alan Wolfelt to provide the information and insights necessary to help families create meaningful funeral experiences that both honor the lives of their loved ones and start them on the path to healing from their losses.” (From MeaningFunerals.com)”