The Importance of Funerals in Today's Society
In a world where everything is fast paced, media-based and we’re often looking for the easiest way from Point A to Point B, one might think to ask: Why do we need to have a funeral? Why do we need to stop everyone’s regular routine for a couple of days to stand in a line at the funeral home or the church and accept condolences from old neighbors who “haven’t seen us since we were just this tall” (insert waist high hand placement here.) In short, the answer could be you don’t. There is nothing legally or even spiritually that says “Grandma must be waked, and a funeral mass must be celebrated. For many, skipping the whole “funeral thing” would be the ideal decision. However, a strong argument could be made as to WHY we should have a funeral. A ritual that has been around as long as civilization itself, funerals serve a range of purposes. The following are just a few of the reasons we have funerals.
Accepting Our New Reality
In the immediate time following a death, it may be difficult to accept that a loved one is really gone. By going through the funeral ritual, it can help survivors carry out the next logical steps of accepting their grief and a new reality without their loved one physically present.
Providing a Support System
Without a funeral, that old neighbor from earlier might not have thought, or known, to reach out. A funeral provides an atmosphere that naturally draws together the family, friends and community that will be there to support you.
Allow a Place to Openly Grieve
Grief is hard. It’s uncomfortable and unwanted and different for everyone. It’s safe to say that’s something everyone can agree with. But a funeral allows you that safe space to grieve, with others who are also going through the process. As Rabbi Earl Grollman was known for saying “Grief shared is grief diminished.”
Honor and Recognize a Life
We all live and eventually we will all die. When that time comes, we all leave behind a life that deserves to be remembered. Sharing stories, memories, laughs and even tears allows us to honor the life that was lived and shared with all those surrounding us.
Death is hard for people to accept and even harder to face head on. But by remembering, commemorating, and ritualizing our loved ones, by giving them a funeral, it might just make it that much easier.