Funerals and Memorials Support Surviving Friends and Family

When a person dies, the world seems to continue right along as though nothing has happened, and to the bereaved this experience can be extremely isolating. The funeral custom provides a social function where friends and family of the bereaved can gather to offer support. "The funeral service has the effect of drawing a social support network close to the bereaved family shortly after the loss has occurred, and this kind of social support can be extremely helpful in the facilitation of grief".² The social support provided during the funeral rite, can provide encouragement to the bereaved in considering the adjustment to living without the lost loved one.

By acknowledging all of one’s family, friends and neighbors that remain available in one's social circle, one may find reassurance and comfort in the fact that they are not alone. The communities promise to attend funerals establishes emotional stability, security, and support in facing death. To not hold a funeral is not to observe this sacred pact. If "people have an aversion to death, they have a persistent sense of despair and hopelessness"¹, The funeral rite gives us the opportunity to act for others as we would wish them to act for us. When we grieve for others, we grieve for ourselves. "We attempt to master the storms of life by finding palatable reasons for our personal suffering. With the discovery of meaning comes the possibility of restoration".¹

We want our presence to be missed, our deaths to be mourned, and for life to have meaning. It explains why we host funerals and grand memorials. We yearn to be remembered. Our lives must have had held some meaning. Attending a funeral reminds us that we will someday merit the same honor, respect, and display of affection.

Please share your thoughts on supporting a friend or loved one who is grieving. What did you find to be most helpful? What advice can you share with others?

¹ Roussell, J.O. (1999). Dealing with Grief: Theirs & Ours. Staten Island, NY: Alba House.
² Worden, J.W. (2009). Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy. A Handbook for the Mental Health