Yes, we can talk about direct cremations compared with traditional funeral services, and offer price comparisons and practical considerations, but as the experts it’s our responsibility to help families understand the many benefits the funeral viewing and services can offer during the grieving process.
A funeral brings people together.
One of the common reactions after a viewing or funeral service is surprise at how many people attended. You might hear: “I didn’t know Grandpa knew that many people” or “It was lovely to see how many people cared about Carrie.”
Then there’s the advantage of bringing those far flung family members and friends together. There’s bound to be at least one person at the visitation who will comment, “we really need to get together for more than weddings and funerals.” The loss of a loved one may even motivate a family member to plan a reunion or start a family newsletter or Facebook group to keep everyone more connected despite crazy schedules and geographic borders.
A funeral helps people heal.
Direct cremation doesn’t do that. Without a visitation or service, there is little opportunity to truly celebrate a life lived. Even if family members doing the planning have seen the loved one regularly, choosing to forego a viewing deprives others of the opportunity to say a final goodbye. Without closure it can be much more difficult for people to accept the reality of their grief and process the many resulting emotions.
A funeral taps into collective memory.
Similarly, without a funeral viewing and service, the grieving family and friends can’t be comforted by the power of story. The wife of 53 years or the daughter whose mother lived with her may think they already know all there is to know about the loved one. But, a funeral service or viewing can prove differently. Only a conjoined twin can truly claim to have been there for every memorable moment of a loved one’s life.
Hearing others’ memories can help everyone celebrate a loved one. For instance, a grown niece sharing Uncle Fred’s marital advice that terrified her in her teen years but makes perfect sense now can give everyone a new perspective on the man — and maybe a much needed laugh at a difficult time.