So many families are asking this question, “Should we still have a funeral?”
COVID made funerals impossible and the delays kept coming. Funerals were put off and families have been left without a critical tool in the bereavement journey: the funeral day.
It seems that it took COVID to help rouse our funeral-avoidant-culture to the importance of these ceremonial acts. We need them. And I say this not because I work for a funeral home, but because I heartily believe in the power of funerals.
Funerals act as a bridge that transitions newly bereaved families into the world of living with the loss.
So, should you still have the funeral? Yes, I think you should. If you are wanting one, you are in fact needing one.
I want to invite you to think about the funeral you didn’t get to have:
- How many people would you have invited?
Consider the others that would have gathered with you to commemorate. They are with you in still missing your loved one. Holding an event, how many of them would still come? I would guess, quite a few and you would be sweetly surprised.
- What special pieces would you have picked out?
Many people criticize how many decisions there are to be made in planning funerals and yes, there are a lot. But many of these decisions provide opportunities for the expression of love and personality. What color should the casket be? Which pictures should we put out? Which flowers were her favorite? What music did he always listen to?
Answering each of these questions is an opportunity to remember, grieve and showcase the unique life of your loved one.
- What stories would have been shared?
Funerals are prime places for the best stories and memories. Perhaps there are unknown stories out there, things to learn and treasure still about your loved one.
I recently was talking with a friend who attended a delayed funeral for a family member. I asked about how it was or if it felt awkward? “Oh no,” she said, “we didn’t know how much we needed it.”
Time doesn’t diminish this need. There isn’t an excuse big enough (not even COVID) that can erase the need to gather, reflect and commemorate a life.
The best advice I can give is this:
If you want to have a funeral you should honor that. If you are feeling just the slightest desire to have one, why fight it? I think we try to talk ourselves out of funerals because it takes courage to schedule the day and face what has happened. Psychologically, we know that facing the death is more healthy than harmful.
The desire you have comes out of an old, deep need to commemorate. We need to take time out of our own lives to remember the meaningful life that is now over
If your loved one has been buried or cremated already, what you are looking for is called a Memorial. We hold these all the time for families
For the instances where burial or cremation has already taken place, families can still hold Memorial ceremonies for their loved ones. These are meaningful, important and good.
Simply call your funeral arranger, “We need to have a memorial for my mom. We weren’t able to before, but now, it’s time.”
I hope that if you are feeling this need, you give yourself the special space of a funeral. I hope you share that space with others who need it. And, I hope you will give your loved one the time their life is so worthy of.