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Funerals Should be Medicine for the Caregiver
Those who are preparing for the end
often contemplate how to make things easier for the
people who will be left behind. Too often, their
conclusion is some simple disposal of his/her body with
no service will be the least painful.
As a funeral director for the last
quarter century, I have assisted thousands of grieving
families and I have concluded that all of us need to say
goodbye. We see over and over again, when tragic deaths
occur, complete strangers build roadside memorials. This
shows our need for closure and mourning.
One common problem is that most funeral
homes have sold the same funeral for the last hundred
years and they donít know how to do anything else. The
services they offer are deeply rooted in institutional
religion, regardless of the beliefs of the person who
has died. The only personal part of the service is the
eulogy and that depends on the talent of the officiator.
A few more progressive funeral homes may offer to set up
a table or easel for the family to fill with photos of
It is our responsibility to find an
appropriate way to say goodbye. The service should
reflect the person being remembered. The focus should be
on the fullness of his/her life, not on the pain and
suffering that frequently comes in the latter days.
There are things we should consider when
planning a funeral. Who is there that has a need to say
goodbye? What were the passions of the deceased?
What are things that remind me of him/her? How do
others know him/her? A funeral can only be done once and
it is important that it be done right.
When planning a service, consider family
and friends that may wish to be present. Often, those
who live farthest away may actually have the greatest
need to be there. These people have a life that is
connected, but not intertwined with the deceased. This
situation calls for closure more than most. In
some cases, feelings that he/she wasnít there enough for
the person may require resolution that only a funeral
can bring. Having the body at the service, even if the
casket is closed, can be very comforting and therapeutic
to all who are present.
Next consider the passions of the
deceased. There are many ways that a funeral can reflect
the person being remembered. The setting, officiator,
music, food and photographs can all come together to
etch a portrait we can carry in our hearts and memories.
Choose a place for the funeral that
expresses the deceased. If the person loves golf, then
have the service at a golf club. For antique lovers,
historical mansions; art galleries for art lovers and
yacht clubs for boating enthusiasts. Our funeral home
has contacted many venues like these and found them to
be very receptive to hosting funerals.