More and more people are choosing direct cremation without any kind of ceremony to mark the passing from life to death. It’s like we want to maintain the illusion of invincibility and don’t want anything to ruin the dream. Even when we do have funerals, the goal seems be all about celebration without any recognition that death is our “enemy” (1 Corinthians 15:26) and that the passing of our loved one is a painful separation. By failing to mourn, the pain of grief remains unresolved and can lead to deeper issues down the road. A funeral doesn’t bring closure to a mourner’s grief, but it does create what Dr. Wolfelt call a “meaningful beginning” where healing can begin. To do that, he says that funerals should seek to accomplish six things. Let me explain them.
Last week I attended a memorial service and this week officiated at a funeral. They’re heavy times emotionally but also times of reflection for me. The value of that mourning and reflection has been lost on some people today. When David Bowie passed away last year, according to his wishes he had a “direct cremation,” without any funeral service. He was just gone without an opportunity even for family to mourn his loss. People who opt for this often do so to have a celebration instead – beach parties and theme events are trendy. One person I know asked for everyone to gather at the house with a bottle of wine instead of the more depressing funeral option. Are funerals outdated traditions? Should we replace them with happier substitutes? Or maybe just do away with them altogether?