Archive for January, 2016

Ann Carlson

Why Is There a Need for Funeral Rites?


The loss of a loved one is never easy. But what is harder is learning how to cope with the loss. No one can ever be prepared when a loved one passes away whether unexpectedly or because of illness.

When someone dies, having a funeral is both traditional and ritualistic. These days, people are choosing to do away with the rituals or the funeral itself. This might be a product of modern times when people see rituals as part of “the old”.

Rituals are activities that symbolize thoughts and emotions. These are done during an important life event like weddings, birthdays, child dedications, baptism, graduations, and many other important occasions. These celebrations are usually held with other people to share their happiness. Rituals are there because words are not enough.

Of all the events that need expression of thoughts and feelings, it is death that needs that kind of ritual. The ceremony gives acknowledgement of the loss, celebrates the kind of life lived by the deceased, and encourages sharing of sorrows and memories. What is sad is that society is still afraid to talk about death and sorrow.

Only a funeral service addresses the different needs of the bereaved that need attention:

Accept the truth that the loved one died. The first part in the grieving process is denial. With the service, those left behind are gently guided into acceptance of death. From the preparations to the service, members of the family are slowly led to the realizations of the loss. It is first acknowledged in the minds and then in the hearts of the bereaved. When a service is meaningful, everything from acceptance of the death to the finality of what happened is ensured.

FuneralCompels the bereaved to face the pain of loss. Not being able to grieve can be harmful. It can lead to several issues: physical, emotional and psychological. To some, it can even put a dent into their faith if not given the chance to cry and talk about the loss. With the service, people are given the venue to express what they feel. Others are also able to offer support and even cry with the family members. This helps ease the heaviness in the hearts of the mourners.

Remembrance of the one who passed away. To remember the person who died compels the minds to shift from the physical to just memories. This provides a very strong push for acceptance that death has really occurred. In remembering the one who died, good memories and anecdotes are brought into the surface. Eulogies make people cry as well as laugh and smile. This helps mourners cope with sadness. In this part of the service, it becomes clear that life is now different from where the deceased is. Thus, acceptance of the finality of death can happen.

Emergence of a new self apart from the one who died. This realization is extremely important in moving on with life. This is also the time when you will be faced with a new reality: that there is a different kind of connection with the one who died. The physical sense of relationship has ended. When this happens, moving on is easier.

Looking for meaning. Death is usually hard to find meaning for. But with a funeral service, people come to offer support and sympathies. This relieves some of the burdens that the family feels. It could be that by the end of the service, there is still no clear answer as to why the loved one has to die. Having the support system through visitations, kind words, and sympathies will usually be enough.