Why We Have Funerals

Sunlit dandelions in a field.

There’s a reason we’ve had death rituals since the dawn of humankind.

Every culture around the world mourn their dead and have rituals to honor the lives of those lost. Some of these rituals are centuries-old, even millennia, while some rituals have just begun. A Jewish funeral will be much different than a secular celebration of life or the traditional mourning rituals of a Navajo family. But the need for grief rituals and the reason we gather with our community to share in them are innate and universal.

Funerals help us acknowledge the reality of loss.

The death of someone we love can be a jarring and surreal experience. It can be difficult to truly grasp that a loved one who was just alive is no longer here, and won’t be ever again. Having funeral services and mourning rituals mark the significance of the loss, and help us realize the finality of death. Rituals create a doorway for us to transition from one world, one in which a loved one lived, to a new world, where they no longer do.

Funerals allow us to process our loss.

When a loved one dies, funerals and memorial services allow us to gather together with family and friends to share their stories and remember the memories you made together. Reflecting on their lives and the impact they had on ours helps us begin to acknowledge our grief.

Funerals strengthen our connections with others.

When a community comes together in shared loss, several things happen. The burden of grief is shared, which gives hope to those mourning. Funerals bring friends and family together again, to connect and share love. When people gather to pay their respects to the deceased, they remind one another of the beauty, the frailty, and the importance of life and the people we love, Funerals help us cherish life and our relationships more. When a family sees the outpouring of love and respect from the other guests at the funeral, they see light in their loss. Just seeing how much others cared for their loved one can help them get through the first difficult days of their loss.

Funeral rituals comfort us.

Most rituals follow established, specific procedures. The details may change, but the general pattern is recognizable to people of a particular group. The predictability of rituals helps participants feel at ease. Scientific studies have shown that the physical enactment and participation in symbolic behaviors are extremely effective in alleviating grief.

Funerals allow us to express our emotions and beliefs.

Rituals around death help give us meaning when loss can feel meaningless. Being able to express our emotions through ritual and gathering with our community is healthy and can help us begin to heal. Religious rituals help us grapple with life, death, find meaning and purpose in our own lives, and provide an explanation for and connection to what happens after we die. For many, faith provides a foundation from which to come to terms with death, connect with a higher power, and give hope for the future.

A jazz band dancing behind the casket in a New Orleans funeral procession may look very different than an Aboriginal smoking ceremony. But they are both believed to help the deceased’s spirit on their journey to the next world, and both bring meaning and comfort to those in mourning . At French Funerals & Cremations, we’ve witnessed countless families who have lost a loved one benefit from gathering together to grieve with the people in their communities. We know how important the individual needs and cultural traditions of each family are, and we do everything possible to help families plan the most meaningful memorial services.

We are always available to answer any questions you have about our funeral services, cremation, or advanced planning. Call any one of our funeral homes in the Albuquerque and Rio Rancho areas, or send us a message.

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