by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.
Grief educator and author of Understanding Grief:
Helping Yourself Heal and Creating Meaningful Funeral Ceremonies
Funerals have been with us since the beginning of human history because they help us move from life before the death to life after the death. Funerals help us begin to heal.
- Confirm that someone we loved has died.
- Help us understand that death is final.
- Allow us to say goodbye.
- Help us care for the body with respect and honor.
- Serve as a private and public transition between our lives.
- Death to our lives after the death.
- Assist us in creating sacred time.
- Encourage us to embrace and express our pain.
- Affirm the worth of our relationship with the person who died.
- Help us remember the person who died and encourage us to share those memories with others.
- Offer a time and place for us to talk about the life and death of the person who died.
- Provide a social support system for us and other mourners.
- Help integrate mourners back into the community.
- Allow us to search for meaning in life and death.
- Transform the ordinary into the spiritual.
- Reinforce the fact of death in all our lives.
- Establish ongoing helping relationships among mourners.
Meaningful funeral ceremonies are rites of passage. Planning a funeral that will be meaningful to your family is one of the most important tasks you will ever undertake. I encourage you to embrace the funeral ceremony’s healing powers.