It's important to recognize that funerals and memorial ceremonies are for the living ... for those who are affected by the loss of a loved one. It is through the funeral process that a number of emotional needs are met for those who grieve.
A funeral is similar to other ceremonies in our lives. Like a graduation ceremony, a wedding, a baptism, and a bar mitzvah, a funeral is a rite of passage by which we recognize an important event that distinguishes our lives.
The funeral declares that a death has occurred. It celebrates the life that has been lived, and offers family and friends the opportunity to pay tribute to their loved one.
The gathering of family and friends for a time of sharing and funeral service helps to provide emotional support so needed at this time. This will help those who grieve to face the reality of death and consequently, to take the first step toward a healthy emotional adjustment.
The funeral can and does take on many varied forms. Funerals can last from minutes to months and are usually influenced by the lifestyle and values of the bereaved family and friends.
A valuable aspect of contemporary funerals is their individuality. Whether a ceremony is elaborate or simple, funerals are often individualized to reflect the life of the deceased and to hold special meaning for family and other survivors. It may reflect one's religious beliefs as a reaffirmation of faith in a greater life beyond this world.
It may reflect the occupation or hobbies of the deceased. It may center around an ethnic background or social affiliation.