Funerals are as old as the human race itself and have proven to date back to over 60,000 BC.
Every culture and civilisation around the world have taken care of their loved ones who have passed away in a way of honouring, respecting and remembering them.
While each culture has had different ways of doing this, they have all had purpose, intentionality and meaning.
Funerals are not just a ritual for the person who has passed, but a way for the living to grieve, come together and remember.
Throughout history, the variations of types of funerals and rituals are vast, but the common thread throughout every culture and religion are these three elements:
- Some type of ceremony, funeral rite or ritual
- A sacred place for the body or remains
- Some type of memorial service for family, friends and the community
Funerals can often be underestimated by how much value they bring to the loved ones who are grieving.
It’s easy to put more emphasis on the funeral being for the person who has passed when, in reality, it’s not for them; it’s about them.
The funeral is for everyone who knew, loved and connected with the person.
While sometimes we don’t want to burden people or make people sad with a funeral, the simple fact is, by not having a proper goodbye, people don’t get to have the opportunity of expressing their grief and gaining closure.
Here are the top reasons why funerals are important if not crucial for everyone.
- Reality check
Often when people pass away, close family and friends find it hard to let go.
It’s much easier to be in denial than face that someone has truly gone from our lives altogether.
The purpose of a funeral can help ease this and allow us to accept the reality of death.
The first stage of truly grieving is accepting what has happened, and a funeral starts this process.
While a funeral isn’t the end of the grieving process, it allows people to take the first steps of processing their grief and coming to grips with this new reality of being without our loved one.
- It allows healthy grief to occur
There are many ways to mourn the loss of loved ones, but throughout history and backed by research and psychology studies, if people don’t grieve healthily and positively it can have a very negative effect on a person later on.
Participating in a funeral helps people deal with feelings like shock, sadness, depression, numbness and disbelief.
Human beings need to grieve to move on from the pain of loss, and this is for everyone including a colleague, neighbour, or friend in the community not just the closest family and friends to a loved one.
- It provides support
A funeral provides the right place and time for people to talk together, support each other, reminisce, tell stories and pay their respects.
Without a funeral, the support contact isn’t achieved. It’s vital to have the support of people around to help you adapt to a life without your loved one and gives everyone their chance to support each other.
When no funeral or service is held, friends may keep their distance thinking that the close family wants their distance, but it can alienate friendships and can stop people from moving through a difficult time.
Remembrance doesn’t have to always be about a person we know, which is why it’s so important to participate in remembrance days for veterans and for people who have sacrificed their lives for a greater purpose.
Tributes allow us to feel a connection and remember history, so memories are not forgotten.
Throughout a funeral, it’s important to have a eulogy or tribute video, songs and readings as a way to show respect but also as a way of remembering someone’s life.
By recalling and sharing our relationships about a loved one who has passed away helps the transition of preserving their memories which can be the most helping way of healing the pain of grief.
As humans, we need to express our thoughts and feelings. It’s been widely documented that if we don’t express ourselves, our emotions can turn inwards and manifest into an adverse reaction, often leading to depression and anxiety.
Funerals are a safe place meant to help people express their feelings and thoughts around everyone who is feeling similar.
It’s ok to be sad, cry, feel vulnerable and express these thoughts and words at a funeral.
Some people need to cry, some people need to talk about their feelings, and some people just need a hug or to be quiet and reflect in an appropriate place – all are ok at a funeral.
- Allows grieving and mourning
There is a difference between grieving and mourning.
Grief is internal. Grief is our thoughts and feelings and how we process these feelings in the very first initial stages of losing a loved one.
It can happen straight away for some people, and for others, there is a delayed response to the bereavement.
Mourning is more external and takes the initial grief we feel and allows us to make those feelings public.
Mourning allows us to take those feelings of grief and action them.
It essentially allows the grief to move externally and publicly with others which dramatically helps the healing process.
For some people without a funeral, they will only express inward grief which can carry unhealthy consequences.
- Allows us to question
When someone passes on, it’s only natural to start questioning the meaning of life and the purpose of their life.
People often think, ‘Did the person have a good life?’, ‘Why do we die’? ‘Why did this person die’, ‘What happens to us after we die?’
While a funeral may not answer these direct questions, it serves the purpose of allowing people to ask these questions and seek the answers.
Finding answers brings peace and brings purpose back to our life.
Funerals allow us to feel grateful for our own lives and makes us more aware of how to spend the rest of our days.
The best funerals should remind us how we should live.
Please download our helpful Bereavement & Funeral Planning Booklet, this will help answer your questions on dealing with the loss of a loved one
For more information on types of funerals, their purpose and how to create a personalised and meaningful ceremony, contact us at Newhaven Funerals.
Article by Tim Connolly – Funeral Director Newhaven Funerals Brisbane & Gold Coast
|Tim Connolly – Funeral Director Newhaven Funerals Brisbane & Gold Coast. Growing up around funerals since the age of six allows Tim a unique understanding of how a family owned funeral business should be. Since leaving school in 1992 Tim has been deeply involved in all aspects of operating their family owned business, including operating crematoriums, memorial gardens and pet cremation business. Tim is more than competent to assist all clients with any request