Funeral Misconceptions


Excerpt from 
 "Creating Meaningful Funeral Ceremonies" 
by Alan Wolfelt, Ph.D.
  • Funerals are too expensive. The social, psychological and emotional benefits of authentic funerals far outweigh their financial costs. Besides, a funeral needn't be lavishly expensive to be meaningful.

  • Funerals make us too sad. When someone loved dies, we need to be sad. Funerals provide us with a safe place in which to embrace our pain.

  • Funerals are barbaric. On the contrary, meaningful funeral ceremonies are civilized, socially binding rituals. Some people think that viewing the body is barbaric. Cultural differences aside, viewing has many benefits for survivors.

  • Funerals are inconvenient. Taking a few hours out of your week to demonstrate your love for the person who died and your support for survivors is not an inconvenience but a privilege.

  • Funerals require the body to be embalmed. Not necessarily. Depending on local regulations, funerals held shortly after the death may require no special means of preservation.

  • Funerals and cremation are mutually exclusive. A funeral (with or without the body present) may be held prior to cremation. Embalmed bodies are often cremated.

  • Funerals are only for religious people. Not true. Non-religious ceremonies (which, by the way, need not be held in a church or officiated by a clergy person) can still meet the survivor's mourning needs.

  • Funerals are rote and meaningless. They needn't be. With forethought and planning, funerals can and should be personalized rituals reflecting the uniqueness of the bereaved family.

  • Funerals should reflect what the dead person wanted. While pre-planning your funeral may help you reconcile yourself to your own mortality, funerals are primarily for the benefit of the living.
  • Funerals are only for grown-ups. Anyone old enough to love is old enough to mourn. Children, too, have the right and the privilege to attend funerals.
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