What is the purpose of funerals?

The main purpose of funerals is to signify that there has been an event of a death.

There are several ways in which to arrange and carry out funerals throughout the world, however, what is the purpose of funerals is universal in that they take place because a significant event has happened, as a human life has ended, so that those around the deceased person can, traditionally, mark this significant life event by having a funeral.

Traditionally, when questioned ‘What is the purpose of funerals?’ these events were predominantly for the deceased.  Funerals took place because it was believed that the rituals performed around death were carried out so that the deceased person was given the best chance  for a safe passage of their soul to the afterlife.

In more modern time, it might be suggested when asked what is the purpose of funerals is that they are predominantly performed for the bereaved of the deceased person because funerals are often arranged in a way that the next of kin of family members of the deceased prefer, rather than the more spiritual significance or even practicalities of the event itself.

When considering ‘What is the purpose of funerals?’ there a number of factors that might be considered when a person is arranging a funeral for a deceased loved one. 

A celebration and acknowledgement of a deceased person’s life can be a way of paying their respects to that person, showcasing their achievements in life.  Funerals allow those that loved and cared for the deceased person to say goodbye and have closure.

It might also be a fitting way for the bereaved loved ones of the decased to be comforted by experiencing this inevitable life event by holding a funeral so that they can take the opportunity to share their loss with others in the wider community and be able to reflect of the loss felt. 

A funeral counts as a good support network, which allows for many people that loved the deceased person, come together to comfort one another and grieve for their loss together.

Close relatives of the deceased person can then resume their lives with closure knowing the loss of their loved one will change their life forever but can be managed through this grieving process.

Spirtitually, by having a funeral in whatever way (whether it is traditional, religious, simplistic, humanistic and so on), it is often believed that a deceased person’s soul requires this event to take place in order for their safe passage to their higher being.

On a practical level, a funeral is a way of dispoing the deceased person’s body and creates closure on their life.

When a person passes away, it is often from the moment of their death that the rituals performed commence and so when contemplating what is the purpose of funerals it could allow those that remain living to follow a set of rituals and traditions that are meaninful to them personally or within their religion to help guide them through what is one of the most emotionally challenging period of their lives.

One of the main elements of death is separation and so if, from the time of death of a person to the time of their funeral, is not accepted, the physical process of experiencing a funeral allows for the bereaved to understand, acknowledge and often accept the separation that has been forced upon them.  In believing this when wondering what is the purpose of funerals it can help with a person’s acceptance of what life will be like in the future for them without their loved one present.

One common feeling that close relatives of a deceased person may have when thinking about what is the purpose of funerals is a sense of relief once a funeral has taken place.  There can be a few reasons for this.

It is often the case that, upon a loved one’s death, many people busy themselves with the preparations of what should happen next. 

If a deceased person has not yet planned their funeral in advance, their next of kin or close relatives will use the time of their death to reflect and mourn and grieve.  When arranging essential matters such as registering their loved one’s death, deciding how they will be laid to rest and in what way, the question of what is the purpose of funerals will often return to reflection and remembrance of the deceased person and what they would have wanted. 

The emotionally charged period after a person’s death often dissipates once a funeral has taken place.

One major factor to remember when asking what is the purpose of funerals is the reintegration of the deceased person as some may believe their soul shall travel to a better afterlife and those that are left in this world and continue to experience the loss of their loved one, they can reintegrate into their daily lives without their loved one in a newly managed way.

Whilst people have different beliefs because of differences in religions, spirituality, personal thoughts and expectations, it is widely recognised that when asking what is the purpose of funerals has many answers. 

The reality of a person’s death can feel more real if those that grieve a deceased person experiences a physical act such as a funeral as the reality of loss is apparent. 

Recalling and remembering a person who has been lost allows for the grief person and celebration of their life to commence.

Having the physical and emotional support of those that loved the deceased person allows for those grieving to be feel that their life was valuable and might provide comfort in this way.

Finally, the spirtual journey a deceased person takes after death is something that many people find comforting when asking what is the purpose of funerals.

The next article will be published next week, and the title will be Why are funerals important in religion?