“How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne, author
Saying goodbye to loved ones is a tradition that spans millennia, from Egyptians reading from the Book of the Dead to Vikings sending their loved ones by burial ship into the afterworld.
‘Closure’ is a word that is used in many situations, and oftentimes people refer to a funeral or memorial service as providing ‘closure’ for friends and family.
However, experts (and those who have lost loved ones) will agree, that grief is a process to be worked through, not an emotion that can be ‘closed’ after a proper goodbye.
That said, a funeral, memorial service, celebration of life, cultural ceremony, or other ritual often benefits those who are left to carry on.
Choosing to host a service or celebration is a highly personal decision for each family. A funeral, which may not provide ‘closure’, can play an important part in helping family and friends begin the healing process after losing someone. And a celebration can take many forms – from a large, traditional funeral service, to a picnic in the park sharing stories.
Here are some ways that a public celebration can help:
- By providing support to a grieving community – Whether a beloved public figure, or someone who is known by only a few, an event of some kind helps those who are left behind to feel less alone. Friends, family and community may take solace in shared grief, and find it beneficial to talk about memories, thoughts and feelings.
- By helping family and friends acknowledge that a loved one is truly gone – Oftentimes when people lose someone they love, they describe the first several days as being ‘in a fog’, or ‘it doesn’t seem real’. A service or memorial helps those who are most affected, accept the new reality that their loved one is gone, with the help of family, friends, church and community.
- By honoring their loved one. It’s customary to pay respect and honor the time that the departed spent here on Earth – Celebrating the good, and even acknowledging the not-so-good, is an important way to pay homage to life, and respect for that life’s end.
Any way a family chooses to say goodbye is appropriate. Loss is never easy, and we hope that you will find solace in whichever way you decide to honor and remember your beloved family member. Thank you for reading, and God bless