Like other ceremonies in our lives, a funeral is a rite of passage, an opportunity to recognize the “passing on” of a loved one. It also offers the family and friends the time to share experiences and emotional support and to help one another find closure and adjust emotionally to the loss of an important person in their lives.
The funeral can take many forms, lasting from minutes to days, and is very often influenced by the lifestyle and values of the bereaved family and friends. One suggestion that can help minimize the burden is to consider taking a proactive role (preplanning) and discussing and defining funeral service needs prior to the actual time of need. Preplanning has proven to make the experience less taxing and offers the family the opportunity to spend their energy helping one another emotionally rather than having to use their energy making decisions that could have been made at an earlier, less emotional, time.
A valuable aspect of contemporary funerals is their individuality. Whether a ceremony is elaborate or simple, funerals are often individualized to reflect the life of the deceased and to hold special meaning for family and other survivors.
It may reflect the occupation or hobbies of the deceased. It may center around an ethnic background or social affiliation.
In our society, three basic forms of final disposition are practiced:
It has been estimated that over 136 individual activities must take place in order for one funeral to be conducted. The Funeral Director is responsible for ensuring that the family receives professional guidance and care and that the funeral services accurately reflect the wishes of the family in all aspects.
Here is a condensed list of some of the more visible activities of a typical funeral director: