“A meaningful funeral celebration is about saying hello on the pathway to goodbye.” ~Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt
As you may or not be aware my husband and I own and operate a Funeral Home. Our family home is above the Funeral Home and thus, we are engrossed in the world of loss.
Do we do this job for the money? Not really, it is not about money for us. Do we do it for the lifestyle? Not really, we are on call 24/7 and getting a weekend or week away is challenging. You may be asking why then do we do it? Why would we continue to choose a modest lifestyle, being on call 24/7, giving up our evening and weekends quite frequently, and most of all being so up close and personal with death?
We do it because both of our life choices have brought us here, and our belief in what we do keeps us here.
So why do we have or need Funerals in the first place?
According to Dr. Alan Wolfelt, who runs the Center for Loss and Life Transition in Colorado and is a well-respected author and educator on the topic of grief, meaningful funeral experiences are a part of our journey to healing.
Dr. Wolfelt believes we have a Hierarchy of purposes with Funerals, starting with practicality and moving towards spirituality and significance. The Hierarchy is as follows:
With death we come face to face with acknowledging a very difficult reality. Someone we love has died and this can be difficult to accept. A meaningful funeral is the first step towards this acceptance. Once we accept with our heads we can begin to accept with our hearts.
When someone dies, the relationship we had with them transitions from one of physical presence to one of memory. The Funeral is a time to share memories and celebrate the life of the person who has died, recognizing how they touched not just our life but others’ lives as well.
Many people are deciding to opt out of the funeral process altogether, under the belief of not wanting to be a bother to others. However, it is important to remember that while the funeral is about the one who died it is essentially for those who remain. It is a time for showing support and helping loved ones in their time of grief.
When someone dies, our minds and hearts can become overwhelmed with thoughts and feelings. This is where the term grief arises. Left unexpressed grief can fester into more intense feelings of sadness and often physical pain. Mourning is the expression of grief and the funeral visitation and ceremony offers those grieving the opportunity to mourn in a healthy way by crying, talking to others, sharing memories and taking part in the ceremony. Mourning is an essential part of our healing and the funeral is an essential part of that process.
There is nothing like the death of a loved one to catapult us into the quest for finding meaning in life; be it ours or the life of the person who has died. We want explanations and answers to the many “why” questions that usually arise. There is no simple answer but a meaningful funeral can help in that quest.
Death can be a wakeup call for many. It can make us start to think about how we want to live. Funerals can ultimately remind us of what we care about, and to live life deeply with joy and love in our hearts.