Is It Better to Have the Funeral Right Away?

Close up of purple flower blooming in dirt to signify choosing an eco conscious funeral.

When someone dies, how soon should the funeral occur? That’s a question with no single right answer. Many factors might influence it, from culture to financial and practical concerns as well as the individual needs of a family.

In Jewish families, funerals usually take place within days of a loss. In Ghana, a funeral service could happen months or even years after a death. What matters more than the timeline is whether the funeral is doing its job in helping a family and community cope with a loss. If you are facing the loss of a loved one, here are a few things to consider when deciding when to proceed with the funeral.

What type of funeral will they have?

How you plan to lay a loved one to rest will affect the timeline of the funeral or memorial service. If you choose a green burial or wish to forgo embalming, the service will need to happen within a week or two, especially if you intend to have a viewing or open casket service.

If you choose cremation, you can hold the memorial service right away or wait as long as you need. You could also choose a direct burial, with or without a small committal ceremony, then hold a larger memorial gathering later.

What rituals will help you heal? 

Funerals play an important role in the grief process. They provide an opportunity for friends, family, and members of the community to gather, support one another, and collectively say goodbye. They can also be a chance to see the deceased one last time and come to terms with the reality of the loss, which can help with healing.

Because death rituals are so important, they are central to many religions. Following the funeral traditions of your faith can help you find comfort through the emotions of loss. These rituals can also provide a timeline for you and provide guidance of what steps should be taken when.

However, not everyone has a specific spiritual practice for funerals. And there may be some reasons why a funeral might need to be expedited or delayed.

Are there family members who will need to travel a great distance to attend a gathering? Would inclement weather or fragile health prevent some people from attending a funeral? Would it work to hold a virtual gathering or livestream funeral, or would it make more sense to delay the gathering until everyone can attend?

These are the types of questions you may need to consider and answer for your family’s specific circumstances. But don’t get too hung up on planning the details or waiting for the right timing. A gathering doesn’t have to be perfect to help people heal.

Grief has its own timeline

When a loss is sudden, unexpected, or traumatic, or when a legal investigation or other external factors force the funeral to be delayed, healing can be more difficult. It can also be harder to feel fully present for the ceremony if you are still reeling from shock. Losses that follow a long battle with illness, and grief that is compounded by estrangement or other types of emotional complexity, can also be harder to navigate.

Whatever the circumstances, know that it’s completely normal for grief to resolve on its own time. The funeral is just one step on the journey to healing. Down the line, you may wish to have another celebration of life or service to honor their memory. You might find solace in visiting their grave site, or in doing something creative with their cremated remains, or simply by remembering them and sharing those memories with others who loved them.

Planning a loved one’s funeral can be emotionally daunting, but you don’t have to handle it alone. French Funerals & Cremations is here to answer your questions and help you create the funeral service that fits your needs and honors your loved one’s memory. Call us at 505-843-6333 to begin, or visit any of our Albuquerque funeral homes to speak to us in person.

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