Ceremony helps us grieve

Ceremony Paves Way for Healthy Grieving

By The Rev. Dr. Lark d’Helen

In cultures across the globe mourning after death is observed in countless ways from dressing in 
black for the first year after death to sitting shiva for seven days to the endless wave of casseroles brought to the family in the weeks following a death. Today mourning has taken a back seat to our
fast paced culture and been replaced with a can-do attitude of getting back to normal as soon as possible. 

That doesn’t really work as a long term solution for grief and loss.The Association for Death Education and Counseling has been studying death and dying for over 25 years. We are starting to
understand what individuals, families and communities need after a significant loss. Now we know an end of life ritual or ceremony paves the way for healthier grieving.A ceremony can bridge the gap when no words are adequate – words are never adequate in the face of  the great mystery of death. It can help us to process our most profound thoughts and feelings. 

A memorial or funeral service helps us to acknowledge the death and say goodbye. It is a time to share memories, express our grief outside of ourselves and support one another in our common loss. In our bifurcated world of email and text messages, the need for social support at the time of a death is heightened rather than diminished! 

We can focus our time on the meaning of death, even this death, and of life … and to begin the  process of re-imagining our “new” life without the physical presence of the one who has died. Indeed, a meaningful memorial ceremony is the single most common factor for people who move  through grief in healthy and hopeful ways.

“Funerals may be about the person who died, but they are for the living. A good funeral puts you on the path to a good grief and healthy mourning.” 

-Dr. Alan Wolfelt

People may be under the misconception that if they cremate they cannot have a service, nothing could be further from the truth. A celebration of life is always appropriate. When a family decides not to have a service oftentimes the internal emotional response has nowhere to go and can sometimes get stuck or stunted. We try whenever we are able to help people plan services that will lead to healing. When there is no service we have programs to help people better at understanding grief and loss, as well as hope and healing. If for some reason families realize a long time after the death they really needed an end of life ceremony and feel like they missed an opportunity, we are here. It is really never too late.
Please call us to schedule an appointment to set yourself and your family on a healthy way of grieving at 401-619-2877 or email us at kim@memorialfuneralhome.com. Life is too short to skimp on healthy grieving.

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