To do or not to do – Funeral and Memorial Services


As I type this blog the words from many conversations with many people come to mind; conversations about funerals and how some people do not want others to see them dead in a casket and the opposite response is also mentioned.

Some people worry and are concerned about how they will look when a funeral viewing is done.  On the flip side of that is the person who meticulously picks all of the clothing to be worn from the underclothing to the special colour of the burial outfit. 

The two opposite ends of the spectrum indicate the amount of thought that goes into the end of life preparations by some individuals.  Hmmm…this brings to mind the saying you have heard before, “I wouldn’t be caught dead looking like that”.  I wonder how much truth is in this statement. 

Here are some viable options to consider;

  • Closed casket totally from all viewers
  • Closed casket only opened for immediate family or friends
  • Closed casket with a picture of the person near by
  • Cremation immediately and no viewing for anyone
  • Burial immediately and no viewing for anyone
  • Memorial service with a picture of the person

Keeping this in mind, who is the funeral for anyway?  I believe the funeral is for the surviving family and friends.  Why, you might ask would you care about family and friends at this time more than yourself?  Well, I’ll give a few reasons to help you out.

  • A venue for others to be emotionally supportive of grieving family and friends
  • A way for grieving individuals to collectively share their loss experience
  • A way for an ending to be publicly acknowledged and healing to begin
  • A way for family to see how many lives you have touched
  • In the event of a traumatic loss or any loss, a video of the funeral can be made to help the grieving people remember who was supportive when they may have been too numb to remember all that occurred that day

Having stated the above reasons, how a funeral is handled is a personal decision.  I mention a few ideas as a way to help those who grieve a loss.  One person I spoke with said there was no funeral or memorial service for the special person who died in her life.  As a result, she met people in the grocery store, on the street or anyplace and they asked about her special person not knowing he had died; this created a grief response repeated over and over again for her.  The result can be delayed healing from grief which can create multiple other problems from emotional, physical and psychological concerns to causing problems in relationships at home or in the work environment.

I know I talk about the most cheery topics but seriously…look at the big picture when making any decisions.  Death, loss and grief is serious business when you are the one who is grieving.