Why is a funeral ceremony important ?
As a funeral celebrant, I have been thinking about this question lately. Direct cremations are now an alternative option. There is now the option of having a direct cremation with no ceremony. This is one choice. There is also the option of having a direct cremation with a smaller, simpler ceremony for a select number of guests. This is another option. A more traditional option is a cremation or burial alongside a ceremony, this is still a popular choice.
My own thoughts are, firstly, people need the opportunity to grieve, alongside others who are also affected. This is the shared experience and an opportunity to share a moment of closure. It is also a time to celebrate and remember the life of the loved-one together.
Secondly, while we think we know how many may attend a ceremony, I have been to many funerals where the numbers attending greatly exceeded the numbers expected. When we hold a ceremony there is no way of really knowing who may also want to attend. People touch many other lives while they are with us, and we do not always know who these are, or what our loved-one meant to these individual people. A ceremony is their one opportunity of saying goodbye also.
Finally, I think it also allows very visible support to the grieving family.
For these reasons, I continue to believe in the value of a funeral ceremony.