Grief is described as "deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone's death." To better understand our grief, we have funerals. The ceremony, or structured event dedicated to the deceased helps us to better understand and express our grief, and our love, for those we've lost.
Does anyone question the value of an anniversary or birthday party? What about a wedding? If a war hero, politician, teacher or celebrity of any type passes away, no one questions the ceremony. The measure of life isn't based upon notoriety, but the contribution an individual made to the lives of others. Every father, mother, sister, brother, friend, mentor and co-worker has touched the lives of the people close to them. They deserve to be honored, and their loved ones deserve to express their feelings of loss and sorrow.
Often, part of the funeral ceremony is viewing the deceased in a casket. Psychologists and clergy concur that this simple act plays an important role in accepting the loss of a loved one, and beginning a new life without that individual. At most funerals, everyone in attendance is given the opportunity to approach the casket to pay last respects. We do this not for the deceased, but to support the immediate family, those that suffer most from the death. In this way the funeral ceremony becomes a community event, where friends, co-workers and relatives participate in a ritual of support.
Funerals in recent years have become less formal. Many families choose to include a celebrant, a trained professional skilled at involving those in attendance in the service through eulogies, or pleasant memories, or just an expression of love for the deceased. As cremation has become more popular so has the concept of a memorial service. A memorial service can be less formal than a funeral, and because they are typically held in conjunction with cremation, the memorial service can occur at any time, or anywhere. It is not uncommon to have multiple memorial services.
The value of a funeral or memorial service is not determined by the amount of money the family spends or by the number of people that attend. The value is the knowledge shared by the survivors that the life of someone dear to them had meaning and was honored.
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