A funeral is a rite of passage. It is something that is religious and sacred but also something that is very sad. It is a rite of passage for the deceased but a time of great pain, agony and suffering for the surviving family.
While it is important to make this sad day perfect, in regards to religious rites as well as visiting hours, the service and wake, it is equally important to make sure the individuals and family grieving the deceased also are dealing and coping in a productive way.
The funeral itself is beyond just a rite of passage for the deceased, but also a social venue for the grieving family to find solace but also finality. For many it is the beginning of a long process of adjustment, accepting the reality of death and moving forward.
In this social event, family and friends are able to grieve openly and also check on others who share in their grief. It permits those who may be suffering internally to be given a chance to express sorrow and also be looked after by other surviving family. It is a gauge for the entire and collective health for the family a whole.
Some within the circle of family and friends may heal and cope quicker. At the wake, they may share old stories of the deceased and begin commemoration the loss in a healthy way. Others may need more time to grieve and be held and listened to.
In this array of emotions, individuals start the healing process at the funeral. This is why, it can truly be said, the funeral is more for the family than the deceased. True it is a remembrance of a life, a time to be grateful for that life and wish that life a successful transition into the afterlife, but for many, the funeral is about accepting that farewell.
Accept for the necessary prayers and religious rites, the deceased is at peace. It falls upon the function of the funeral and its rituals to help others accept that peace as well. In this way Funeral Directors, Funeral Associates, Pastors, Ministers, and Grief Counselors can all play roles of the day and after in helping the bereaved move forward.
It is true that after the funeral and the many cards in the mail, the true grey period of bereavement arrives, in which one learns the long lesson of adapting to life without the deceased and writing for oneself a new chapter. This is a long process, but the funeral sets the foundation for this long process to begin.
It is important to remember the grieving throughout the year and even years after as they overcome the loss in their life. Too many times, one dismisses another’s grief a few weeks after the funeral, thinking one should simply “get over it”, but the if one truly understands the nature of grief, then one will realize that the funeral is only the first step in a long process. A process that will involve future holidays without the deceased, as well as multiple anniversaries that only re-stir the emotions of loss within a person.
If you are interested in learning more about Grief Counseling or becoming a Funeral Associate, then please review our Grief Counseling and Funeral Associate Certifications and see if they match your academic and professional needs.
In the meantime, we need to see the critical importance the funeral plays as a social construct to help the grieving accept death but also as a way to help the healing process, but grief care cannot end there but is an ongoing process that goes well beyond a few weeks but sometimes beyond a year itself. We need to remember that the sting of loss never dies with grief counseling, it just becomes more bearable.