why do funerals matter?
The pandemic brought this question to the fore. At times, we’ve had to go without the kind of funeral that we wanted. A recently published study* looked at how this might affect us, and what comfort can be found in such difficult times.
The findings are a great start. They point to the most valuable features of planning and attending funerals – in covid times and in ‘normal’ times. It seems that for both adults and children, the benefits depend not on the number of attendees or how elaborate the funeral is – but on their ability to shape the ceremony and say goodbye in a way which is personal, and meaningful for them. Even the process of planning the funeral is helpful. But if you can’t get involved, just being there on the day helps resolve grief. And a funeral that makes you feel supported by others and connected to them – that helps, too.
how can I help?
Studies show that there’s a crucial role for funeral directors and celebrants in all this. It takes sensitivity, creativity and skill, because it seems that ‘template’ services might be less useful than personalised services - where families are supported to take the lead and do things their way. In one survey, the support of funerals professionals was considered quite or very helpful by over 90% of respondents, second only to family support. So you'll want to choose well.
And when you look back, recalling a good funeral will help with longer term processing of the death. Research shows that a funeral described as ‘comforting’ significantly lessens feelings of grief and isolation after the event.
And that matters most of all.