Death is something we often don’t want to think about or talk about but know it will come to us all one day. I do believe it is paramount to have a well-crafted and meaningful end of life ceremony that leaves you feeling your loved one has been truly reflected and celebrated – its important to get it right as there are no practice runs with this! This is where your celebrant will guide and help you in the process of crafting your ceremony. And of course whilst lots of practical details are being worked on, there is grief and sadness. We often don’t understand our internal process’s around grief and mourning. I am sharing a valuable guide on the 6 basic steps in the needs of mourning, written by Dr. Alan Wolfelt, noted author, educator, and practicing clinical thanatologist. Hopefully this is helpful ~
The needs of mourning
“Rich in history and rife with symbolism, the funeral ceremony helps us acknowledge the reality of the death, gives testimony to the life of the deceased, encourages the expression of grief in a way consistent with the culture’s values, provides support to mourners, allows for the embracing of faith and beliefs about life and death, and offers continuity and hope for the living.”
According to Dr. Wolfelt, a funeral helps the bereaved meet 6 basic needs of mourning. Bereaved people who meet these needs are most often able to reconcile their grief and go on to find continued meaning in life and living.
- Acknowledge the reality of the death.
Planning and attending meaningful funeral ceremonies helps us move past the intellectual understanding of death to acknowledgement of the reality that the person has died.
- Move toward the pain of the loss.
The funeral helps us express and embrace the pain of our grief enabling us to begin to heal.
- Remember the person who died.
A meaningful funeral enables us to share memories of the person who died. This initiates a shift in our relationship with the deceased from one based on physical presence to one based on memories.
- Develop a new self-identity.
Loss of a loved one often changes our role. We may no longer be a husband, or a daughter, or a parent except in memory. The funeral serves as a “rite of passage” that begins the process of developing a new self-identity for the bereaved.
- Search for meaning.
A funeral provides an opportunity to explore the meaning of life and death. This may help to reinforce our faith and provide comfort. It may also help us to confront our own mortality.
- Receive ongoing support from others.
Funerals serve as a central gathering place for mourners. Our attendance at a funeral demonstrates support for the bereaved and provides a venue for them to accept support in their grief.
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