Death is hard. It’s hard to face your own mortality. It’s hard to experience the death of a loved one. It’s hard to talk about. And it’s hard to plan funeral arrangements for a family member when you’re grappling with your loss. There’s a trend these days in the U.S. of people being directly cremated and foregoing a memorial service altogether. They want to ensure their families won’t have to deal with logistical details or have to think too much about the sadness of loss. They don’t want to be a burden.
The trouble is, not having some type of ceremony to honor the deceased actually does more harm to the bereaved than good. Because in the end, your funeral isn’t actually for you. It’s for the people you love. It’s a basic human need to honor the dead and say goodbye alongside their community. This need is part of what we call the Acute Loss Period.
During the Acute Loss Period, or the first weeks following the death of a loved one, grieving individuals experience specific emotional, relational and spiritual needs. By meeting these needs, they create vital habits and behaviors they will need for a healthy grief experience. The Acute Loss Period includes seven stages:
If we deprive our loved ones of the opportunities to meet these needs—seeing, gathering, connecting, celebrating—we cut out crucial steps in their grieving process. But that doesn’t mean they have to shoulder the burden of having to plan your funeral or memorial service. By planning your own final arrangements in advance, you can help ease your family’s grief and give them the gift of a better goodbye.