C J TALKS ABOUT: Funerals— How They Benefit The Living

Public adieu to Archbishop Christodoulos

Public adieu to Archbishop Christodoulos (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hindu funeral

Hindu funeral (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The word ‘funeral’ tends to frighten some…it conjures images of sad things, painful memories, sorrow. The modern-day funeral service is meant to help the living, actually. How does it help? There are many positive functions served by funeral services. The basic functions are:

– Funerals serve to allow the community-at-large an opportunity to express sympathy and support of the bereaved;

– Funerals generally involve a ritual to address spiritual or religious needs of the mourners;

– Funerals generally include a parade or procession to a cemetery (although not so much now, due to the rise in cremations and changes in disposition that cremations allow)—the procession symbolizes the living transporting the deceased to the land of the dead, then the living returning themselves to the land of the living. This process enables a primary step towards the re-establishment of life without the deceased;

-Funerals involve the disposal of the body — this symbolizes survivors’ emotional separation from the deceased;

-Funerals emphasize the commitment to death — placing the remains into the final resting place.

Office of the dead (Deceased in funeral proces...

Office of the dead (Deceased in funeral procession) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The primary purpose, then, of the funeral lies in the ‘rite of passage’ for both the deceased and the bereaved. This rite or ritual affirms the dead person’s life and assures the survivors that their own lives will one day be honored… it is a sort affirmation which validates our existence and that our lives are not lived in vain.

The funeral is the last chance to publicly honor the deceased, for mourners to pay their respects, and spend final private moments with their loved one.

There are psychological aspects as well:

-Funerals, viewings, and visitations present the REALITY that the death has happened

-Rituals validate or legitimize the grievers’ feelings of loss—this offers a social acceptance and support for the emotional response to the death;

-Funerals are a ‘safe’ environment that is conducive to the expression of grief;

-Funerals allow for the re-kindling of memories associated with the deceased;

-Funerals initiate thoughts about life as it will be without the deceased;

-Funerals allow community members to pay tribute, emphasizing the worth of the deceased, and validate the pain associated with the loss of the member; this accommodates the acting out of loss and separation in a socially acceptable, safe environment.

PERHAPS, then, we ought to call these tributes “Celebrations of Life.”

©2013, C.S. Thompson.

The link below is one I have no affiliation with, other than having them post my father’s obituary tribute, however, the organization does an outstanding webinar series about Grief and Grief Recovery. Take a moment to look at the site, or point it out to someone you know who may benefit by the attending of the webinar, or post-broadcast playback…***Tributes.com is hosting a free webinar on 09-12-2013…Grief Recovery: Death Of A Child   http://tributes.enterthemeeting.com/m/QM45BMCM***

7 Responses to “C J TALKS ABOUT: Funerals— How They Benefit The Living”

  1. CJ, I love the expression Celebration of Life. Excellent piece.


  2. And! Funerals give us awesome HBO shows like SIX FEET UNDER. 🙂


    • Uh Oh…Patrick, Patrick, Patrick…it kills me to remind you (gently) that real life has never been portrayed well when Hollywood starts getting involved. Tsk Tsk! No worries, though…I’d be very happy to give you the low-down about that series and whose life it is ‘loosely’ based upon…if you like sometime. I actually know/knew/or worked with the real-life counterparts….


      • Will always be perhaps my favorite show. But I’d LOVE the lowdown.


        • Patrick, rumor has it that the series was ‘loosely’ based on Tyler Cassidy…he is the owner of HOLLYWOOD FOREVER cemetery
          which was used for the show’s cemetery shoots. Tyler is a pretty fascinating guy. He bought the weed-choked, padlocked wreck of a graveyard for practically a song…very famous movie and music stars are buried there. He bought the abandoned cemetery for approx. $375,000.00. It is in prime real estate territory. That price practically begs to be re-termed STOLEN, lol! Anyway, he turned that mess into a real sharp operation…I’d have to say Halloween and Dia de los Muertos are two of the biggest party days of the year there. Visit the site…you’d be amazed what goes on in that place..it’s enough to wake the dead, seriously!


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