THE IMPORTANCE OF FUNERAL SERVICES
Funerals are an integral part of the grieving process. Funerals provide structure and support to assist people through the initial mourning period, they provide a time for honor, remembrance and affirmation and they allow for a search for meaning within the context of each person's religious or philosophical values.
Although people have different coping mechanisms to deal with their grief, the vast majority feel that attending a funeral is important both to show support for the family and to help them in the grieving process.
Services are meaningful since grief experts tell us that the only way to move forward after experiencing the death of a loved one is to face one's emotions and deal with them head on. A funeral allows people to face their pain while surrounded by people who care about them. It provides an opportunity for an individual to say a final good-bye to the deceased.
Mourning is the open expression of thoughts and feelings regarding the death of a person who has died. It is an essential part of healing which can be frightening, painful, overwhelming, and lonely. Funeral services assist in the open expression of these feelings.
PERSONALIZING THE FUNERAL PROCESS
To many people, the word funeral conjures up images of organ music, religious services and overwhelming sadness. This perception however, is not necessarily an accurate one. Funeral services today are changing as people are personalizing services to become a celebration of life, as well as an expression of sadness and grief.
By creating a focus on a person's life, the whole experience is positive and one in which both laughter and tears are mixed. Funeral services allow people who have dealt with long-term illness a chance to honor and pay tribute to a loved one who has suffered.
Some ways in which people are personalizing funeral services include:
substituting traditional organ music during visitation and the service with a tape of their favourite music, from classical to rock.
placing photographs, around the visitation room, of the deceased involved in their favourite activities or surrounded by family and friends.
decorating the room with favourite flowers.
displaying favourite possessions of the deceased in the visitation room.
encouraging those very close to the deceased to write a personal letter or poem and placing it in the casket.
asking those attending the service to write down a memory about the deceased for the family to keep, in a memory book.
incorporating favourite poetry, hymns, or passages into the services.
having family members and children participate in the service in a meaningful way.
Making a funeral a "celebration of life". Good memories are something everyone feels comfortable discussing and they bring some happiness into a very difficult time. Personal photos and emblems give people something tangible to remember and they aid in bringing back joyful, happy memories.
The traditions of mourning are always evolving as society evolves and the trend toward the personalization of funeral services grow in acceptance and it assists in the healing process as a positive, affirming action. People are celebrating the life that touched them and this can give great comfort to those grieving a loss. Funeral services create an atmosphere of friendship and openness which encourages people to talk, laugh, cry, and share - all very important steps in moving on.
CONSUMERS CHECK LIST
talk over your thoughts regarding funerals etc. with your family and those who will be left, remember that while the funeral may be about the deceased the service and ritual is for the benefit of those left. Your religious beliefs, your cultural and family traditions, your values, should all be part of this discussion.
discuss your spiritual needs with your clergy, minister, rabbi, etc., to ensure that religious beliefs will be accommodated.
ask others about the services or experiences they've had at local funeral homes. Ask them what funeral home they used and how satisfied they were with the service received.
talk to the area funeral directors. They are receptive to questions regarding their facilities and services offered. Funeral Directors are professionals who sincerely want to offer quality services to meet the needs of those they serve. They are open to honest and frank discussions about your thoughts and wishes regarding funeral arrangements
The Rev. Dr. Phil Johnson, a United Church of Canada minister states: A Funeral should not be a matter of impressing, but of expressing, and Funeral Directors would agree with this statement. Funerals are a personal expression which should be tailored to meet the needs of all concerned.
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