“The funeral is a ceremony of closure for the surviving family members and friends. It is a celebration of the life of the deceased and a contemplative time to reflect. It is a time for family and friends to gather, to openly share in the loss, to express grief, sympathy, and love. It is a time to share memories and to express feelings with those who have come to grieve and to console. It is often considered the first step in adjusting to a new and changed family life.” -The Complete Funeral Guide page 42

Psychologist, Catherine M. Sanders, has researched grief and the grieving process. In her book “Surviving Grief and Learning to Live Again” she lists a number of values funerals provide to family or a person who is grieving.

•  Funerals help make real a tragic event that is very easy to want to deny.  They help a family accept that a death has occurred.
•  Funerals gather friends and family together who then provide support and comfort to those who are grieving. Just seeing how much others cared can be of great relief to a grieving family.
•  They provide a source of spiritual strength in time of need.
•  They celebrate the life of the deceased and recognize the importance of their life. They offer us a time and place for us to talk about the life and death of the person who has died.
•  Funerals give the bereaved a chance to publicly express their love and devotion to the person who has passed away and help them to begin the grieving process.

No two lives are identical, so it follows that no two services to memorialize that life will look the same. Today, there is a wide variety of choices in how a funeral will take place. In the past all funerals took a very similar course. People are often not aware of all the choices that exist. Today, funerals can take place at country clubs or community centres, or even outdoors in a place that was special to the deceased. Every person is unique.  The more a service reflects the personality and life of the deceased, the more meaningful and beneficial it will be for all who attend. To personalize a service is to incorporate different items and symbols that held specific meanings for an individual’s life. When planning a service, think about what special interests, talents or personal items best reflect the life being celebrated. The goal is to use whatever means you have to make the service as personal and meaningful as possible, and to create a celebration of someone’s life. There is no right or wrong way to go about this, but it can be the most powerful and meaningful part of the entire funeral service for the family and the friends who are attending. Options for personalizing the service include:

•  Displaying personal belongings and other items reflecting the individual’s life and interests
•  Special music, poetry or reading
•  Photographs: Many funeral homes offer picture boards where a family can sit down together and create a collage of pictures.

Funeral service days and times are often publicized in the newspaper. Unfortunately, there is sometimes a criminal element who might use this information to note when your home will be unoccupied. It’s good common sense to take certain precautions.

•  Be sure that your home is secured.
•  Have someone stay at your home, if possible.
•  If your home must be left unoccupied, put lights and a radio on a timer.
•  Ask neighbours to note any unusual activity.
•  Notify local police of visitation and funeral times.
•  Do not use signs at a place of business stating “closed due to death in the family”, etc.