Funeral Helping the Grief Process

How A Funeral Helps With the Grief Process

Whether expected or sudden, the loss of a loved one can be one of the most challenging experiences of the human condition. Even if we try to prepare ourselves for an impending loss, there’s no way of knowing how we will react if or when it happens. Life without a loved one is unchartered territory because our bonds are special and unique—no two are alike. There are so many ways a loved one can impact our life. Some are obvious, while others can present themselves in unexpected ways. In turn, navigating the grief process can be an emotional rollercoaster. One of the most immediate ways to help the bereaved cope with grief is through a funeral service. But how does a funeral help in the grief process? Here are five uplifting benefits:

Honoring the Departed

Funeral services can offer countless ways to say goodbye to a loved one. Sometimes, the departed pre-plan the funeral, offering the family a unique insight into how they wish to be remembered best. When no direction is available, families can create their own send-off to honor their lost loved one. In any case, funerals allow the bereaved to celebrate the departed’s unique life and honor them with a moving tribute. From eulogies to music to shared stories and more, funerals highlight the legacy and lasting impact on the hearts of the bereaved. When we honor the departed, we express gratitude, love, and appreciation for our time with them. In doing so, we can acknowledge our grief and begin to process it healthily.

Acknowledging the Loss

When we first hear the news that a loved one has passed, a typical reaction is shock and denial. As the brain tries to manage the overwhelming feelings and possible stress associated with the news, it begins to deny the information as a way of coping and protecting itself. However, the feelings associated with loss and grief need to be addressed to heal. Funerals provide a way for the bereaved to face the loss of their loved one properly. Whether a casket or an urn, seeing the remains of a lost loved one can help to clarify the new reality. Participating in funeral rituals and committing the remains to a final resting place can help grief-stricken individuals acknowledge the loss.

Connection and Support

Funerals allow family, friends, colleagues, coworkers, and more to come together to pay respects and celebrate the legacy of the departed. In times of grief, connecting with others can provide incredible support. Funerals allow those in attendance to reflect on their relationships with the departed and the shared impact on their lives. As stories emerge among those in grief, we can learn more about our loved ones and ourselves. Connecting with others over the unified appreciation for the departed can create new relationships and fortify existing bonds. Knowing that your departed loved one has touched others can help comfort us in our grief. While each person’s grief process is personal, we are not alone.

Emotional Expression

Funerals can bring about a wide range of emotions—some expected, some surprising. Whether attendance is overwhelming or a smaller, intimate group, funerals provide a safe environment for those unified in grief to express any and all emotions. Families may feel overwhelming pride, joy, or gratitude for those who attend. The ritual of committing the body or remains to a final resting place may bring immense sadness. A shared story may bring cathartic release through laughter. From joy to despair and several shades in between and beyond, funerals support emotional expression.

Traditions and Rituals

Traditions and rituals are important in creating and solidifying our bonds in the human experience. Whether religious or cultural, traditions and rituals help us to express our feelings and honor our departed loved ones. Our chosen funeral traditions and rituals remind us of the significance of our brief time with the departed while giving us a beautiful opportunity to say goodbye. Exercising traditions and rituals in funerals, such as the burial of the body or reciting a special prayer or poem, can bring comfort and peace during a period of great emotional upheaval.

Agency in Grief

When we lose a loved one, the loss can make us feel powerless. There is nothing we can do to bring them back. As we begin to grapple with the shock of loss, our world can be turned upside down, leaving us emotionally untethered. Even though we can’t change what happened, we have the power to decide how we handle it. Planning or attending a funeral allows us to have agency in our grief. We can choose how to say goodbye to our departed loved one in a way that feels right. Whether an ash scattering service, a traditional burial, or a tree memorial service, there are several ways a funeral can help the bereaved find a sense of closure, which is an empowering thought.

While we never get over our grief, it is possible to find a way to minimize the pain and still lead a rich, fulfilling life. As the grief process begins, funerals create one of the first important touchstones in the journey. As we say goodbye to our loved ones through a funeral, we begin to redefine our lives. Even though they are gone from this Earth, their spirits and memories stay with us forever.

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