Purposes of the Funeral Ceremony
By Alan D. Wdfelt, Ph.D

Funerals have been with us since the beginning of human history because they help us move from life before death to life after death.

Funerals help us begin to heal by:

Confirm that someone we loved has died
Help us understand that death is final
Allow us to say goodbye
Help us care for the body with respect and honor
Serve as a private/public transition between our lives before the death to our lives after the death
Assist us in creating sacred time
Encourage us to embrace and express our pain
Affirm the worth of our relationship with the person who died
Help us remember the person who died and encourage us to share those memories with others
Offer a time and place for us to talk about the life and death of the person who died
Provide a social support system for us and other mourners
Help integrate mourners back into the community
Allow us to search for meaning in life and death
Transform the ordinary into the spiritual
Reinforce the fact of death in all our lives
Establish ongoing helping relationships among mourners
Meaningful funeral ceremonies are rites of passage.

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