We Need Connection More Than Ever – The Importance of Funerals and Memorials and Celebrations of Life
We are living in a time of robots, AI, video conferences, wars, disastrous weather, fast food, medical breakthroughs, electric cars, day trips to Mars and we hear about it all through our “smart” television, DAB radio, podcasts, Social media, and if we are lucky we can discuss it all with friends.
It could be argued that these are all distractions from life, and in fact from death.
What would happen if we connected with those who live with us and those in our local communities, to support each other in a good life and a good death?
The way we see and respond to death has continually changed throughout history. At this time within the Western world death can be ignored and can be feared. Death has become a medical issue rather than a social issue. However, we should remember that death is part of life.
We all went through Covid together, but we were not always in the same boat. As somebody who lost both parents in 2020 when Covid was at its peak, I truly understand why we need rituals, such as a celebration of life, so that we can connect and support each other through times of sadness.
We and all of those who suffered the death of a loved one during the Covid years did not have the opportunity to truly celebrate the life of our loved ones.
The fact that we could only have 15 people at the venue, where every chair was separated and nobody could hug, hold hands, or put a loving arm over a shoulder. Things became worse. At my Dad's funeral, we could sing. This was an important ritual for us as we are a singing family and my Dad was still singing beautifully two weeks before he died.
We could not sing at my Mum's celebration of life. We were devastated, particularly as Mum loved to hear us sing and it was one of the ways we shared love.
We made the ceremonies as meaningful as they could have been, but there was no real sense of connection, there was literally too much distance between us.
Alan D Wolfelt Ph.d and others talk about the tasks of mourning. Alan notes the importance of these tasks in the context of an authentic funeral. For the full article see https://griefwords.com/index.cgi?action=page&page=articles%2Fritual.html&site_id=3
He illustrates through these tasks how we can ensure an authentic and meaningful celebration of life, funeral or memorial.
Mourning Need 1 - Acknowledge the Reality of Death
We must acknowledge that a loved one has died in both our heads and our hearts. The heart takes time, but a good funeral or memorial service helps us acknowledge this in our heads as a final goodbye to the physical relationship we had, and can start the process in our hearts.
Mourning Need 2 - Move Toward the Pain of Loss
Funerals and memorial ceremonies are a place where we can feel allowed to express our grief and loss openly and start to embrace our pain in the company of others who feel the same - starting the heart's journey.
Mourning Need 3 - Remember the Person Who Died
Everyone at a funeral or memorial service will have their own memories of the person who has died and sharing these helps to change our relationship from a physical presence to one memory. Telling the story of them and our relationships legitimises our pain and helps everyone cherish the whole person.
Mourning Need 4 - Develop a New Self-Identity
Funerals and memorial services mark a change in not only our relationship with the deceased but our own new identities and introduce us anew to our friends and family. We are no longer the spouse, sibling, parent or child of the person who has died but have a new role we are sharing.
Mourning Need 5 - Search for Meaning
Death is part of living and a funeral or memorial service allows us to start thinking about our relationship with death and change - and therefore with life. This is an important part of the grieving process.
Mourning Need 6 - Receive Ongoing Support from Others
Funerals and memorial services are places where we share not only our grief but mutual support for the changes in our relationships with the person who has died and each other. This physical show of support in the moment and in the future - is one of the most important roles of the gathering.
So even if you are going for a Direct Cremation or you do not want a fuss, remember a funeral will help those who are left to grieve and they will have something that will enable them to have a sense of control over a feeling of chaos.
It is always helpful to discuss how you would like to be celebrated, with loved ones and you could always a civil celebrant to be involved in the discussions
And... Please remember we all need connection, it's like death it is all part of life.
Please feel free to contact me on 07956355735 for a free discovery call.