A funeral is for those who are living. It is a celebration of and thanksgiving for the life of the loved one who has died. It is valuable for those who have known the deceased to have the opportunity to share in that celebration of life.
There are four basic needs fulfilled by a funeral:
- Physical – The disposal of the deceased’s body is controlled by State laws and is by burial or cremation.
- Emotional – A funeral allows family and friends to share their memories of a loved one, to laugh and to cry together and to provide vital support to each other in their grief. The funeral experience helps us to put our memories in perspective and provides the opportunity for healing to commence. It allows us to pay our last respects.
- Social – A funeral is a social event that emphasises and acknowledges life. It is also an historical event that should be shared, so that family and friends can support each other.
- Spiritual – A funeral helps us realise that material things don’t really matter as money cannot buy the most important gift of all, that of life. A funeral gives expression to love and allows for faith to be shown.
The funeral experience is a key part of the grieving process which offers hope to the living and is a part of the recovery from loss. In order to fulfil that role, the funeral must meet our own needs and those of the family friends and community. Some of the ways a funeral service meets those needs are:
- Providing a ceremony in which all mourners can share. It can be in a church, a funeral chapel, at the graveside, in a park or any other place that was special to the deceased.
- An individual choice of funeral makes the event meaningful for those who attend. Selection of own venue, music, readings or poetry can be made.
- The order, style and content of a service is up to the family. Personal tributes or inclusion of other traditions can make the service very special.
- The involvement of the body of a person we are mourning in the funeral experience is very important in helping us through our grief. It may be painful to witness the final committal of the body, but the act of that person leaving us helps us to accept the reality of their death.
Why viewing is important
The “viewing” is a term which describes the time mourners spend with the deceased person after death and before the funeral. It can provide everyone with the chance to express personal thoughts, to talk to the deceased and maybe just hold their hand. We can see that the one who has died is now at peace, especially if they were struggling or suffering in life.
Source: Australian Funeral Directors Association