WHEN considering the type of funeral for yourself or a loved one it is important to understand the purpose of a funeral.
Some will express a wish for a Church service with a procession to the cemetery or crematorium, perhaps a Church service with no attendance at the Cemetery or Crematorium, or either a service of Crematorium Chapel or graveside.
What choice is made is of most importance to those left behind and their opportunity to gather with family and friends to say goodbye.
One option, which some may not have heard of, is the option of no service at all.
Funerals can be a sad time and can be mistakenly avoided at the expense of the wellbeing of the immediate family.
I have heard many say, “I don’t want a funeral”, and in fact my own father had expressed this wish to me.
As I had had many years of experience in the funeral industry at the time leading up to his death, I was able to discuss with him his service and the importance of allowing others not only to pay their respects to him but to show support to his family.
I am sure he would have been humbled by those who attended his requiem.
In the months following his funeral, many people spoke to me to say that there were aspects of his life they were not aware of.
The significance of these discussions wasn’t so much about he did this or that, but more an opening for conversation about someone that had died.
Recently at a conference of Death Care Service providers the question was asked of a Buddhist monk, Orthodox priest and a Rabbi, “What type of grief counselling did their faith offer?”.
The response was that in most cases their rituals during the time of death addressed the needs of the family.
The lack of ritual can only impede a grief process, rather than giving “closure”.
A funeral service, in any format, will give “opening” to the door of learning to live with our loss, if we opt for no ritual that door can remain unopened.
Talking to the recently bereaved is not easy, never has been and never will be.
This may be why some are opting to avoid having to put their family through a funeral service. Inadvertently, if this is not discussed with family members it can have the reverse effect, rather than saving them from what can be the uncomfortable ritual of a funeral, it has the result of removing the support mechanism the funeral ritual facilitates.
There are some circumstances that make holding a funeral service at the time of death not possible; however this can be overcome with a memorial service at a later time. The importance of the funeral ritual cannot be understated.
A funeral has family and friends come together to support each other.
The uniting of all that knew the person that has died provides immeasurable support for those that need it most.
In choosing a type of funeral service it must be remembered that although we gather to pray for the person that has died, the funeral is for the living, a ritual for healing.
Even if someone in your family prefers not to have a funeral, remember the funeral service is more about those left behind than the one who has made their way home to God.
By David Molloy
David Molloy is the manager of Nudgee Cemetery and Crematorium.