Value of a Funeral

A funeral is more than just a service for the person who has died, it is also for the loved ones who are left behind. Participating in a funeral is an important part of grieving, and often the first step in the healing process.

The type of service chosen is largely based on the personal preferences of both the survivors and the deceased. The important thing is that you acknowledge the passing of a loved one in a way that is meaningful and helpful in your healing, and that you realize you are not alone. Your local funeral home and licensed funeral director are trained to help you through this difficult time.

Why have a funeral?

When someone dies, the first reaction for many loved ones is to get things over with as quickly as possible. But that could make the grieving process a little harder on some of the deceased’s loved ones.

  • Benefit the loved ones left behind, they are not meant to please the deceased
    Funerals are meant for the living, it is a way for survivors to acknowledge the reality of the death.
  • Provide a way for loved ones to grieve and grieve properly
    Funerals are social rituals that strengthen the relationship between the living and dead. The support and compassion from family and friends provides you with vital validation to your feelings, spiritual sustenance to your soul, and the courage to continue on in your life’s journey.
  • Provide an opportunity to share memories and hear memories others have of the deceased loved one
    As family and friends gather at a funeral, the past becomes alive. With the telling of each story, the remembrance of each incident, the sharing of each memory, your relationship to the deceased is strengthened. Funerals help reconcile the changed relationship between you and your loved one. As you mourn for the deceased, your relationship with them changes. Funerals help you review your relationship with your lost loved one. They also may serve as a separation and switching point from a relationship of presence to one of memory.
  • Provide stability and order in the chaos of early grief
  • Help confirm the reality of the death
    Acknowledging and expressing your feelings of loss is an important start in your journey of reconciling grief. Funerals provide a prime opportunity for you, perhaps with the presence of concerned others, to confront your loss and express your feelings.
  • Validate the legacy of loved ones
    Every life is a rich tapestry of memories, emotions, and experiences. Each of our lives has a story to tell; a meaning to uncover. Funerals help us express the importance of a life well lived. They help tell your loved one’s story and pass it on to future generations.

When we compared the respondents who had less than the traditional funeral, i.e. those who did not view the body or had arranged immediate disposition of the remains (setting aside the Jewish respondents who traditionally do not view), we found that those who had requested no viewing and/or immediate disposition of the body reported experiencing the greatest hostility following the death, the greatest increase in the consumption of alcohol, tranquilizers, and sedatives, the greatest increase in tension and anxiety, the lowest positive recall of the deceased, and, in general, particularly among the male respondents, greater problems in adjustment to the death.”

 - Robert Fulton, Ph.D., Department of Sociology, University of Minnesota

Planning Advice
When planning a funeral, you have many options available. There are also decisions to be made. Whether you have recently lost a loved one or are considering pre-planning your own funeral service, your local OFDA funeral director is dedicated to providing personal and ethical care and support.

More and more people are planning ahead for their own funerals for many reasons. They may want to relieve their surviving spouse or other family members from the emotional and financial burden. Pre-need planning also assures an individual that all the arrangements will follow their personal wishes as they have discussed and decided with their loved ones. 

General Tips
Be an informed consumer. Don’t be reluctant to ask questions. Today there are a variety of options to meet your financial needs and wishes. Be sure to discuss all available options before making a decision. When selecting a funeral director, choose one who is licensed and has a good reputation in the community. OFDA’s member directory is a good place to start.

Be prepared! Avoid the burden of making decisions while under emotional stress by organizing details with your funeral director ahead of time. Remember…preplanning doesn’t necessarily mean prepaying. Plan a personalized ceremony or service to help those surviving to begin the healing process. Reconciling our grief is never easy but having a meaningful funeral or tribute will help.

  • DO ask a family member or friend to sit in on any meetings you have with the funeral director.
  • DO ask all funeral directors to identify themselves, the company they represent, and what services they will be providing.
  • DO ask for a phone number and business card.  
  • DO make a list of questions to ask, and take notes.
  • DO read over any contract carefully before signing. 
  • DO make certain that everything promised is put in writing and attached to the contract.
  • DO ask for explanation of anything you’re not sure about, written in plain language you understand.
  • DO find out exactly what is covered in a pre-paid funeral contract. Some items and services may be guaranteed and some items may be non-guaranteed, such as cash advances.
  • DON’T agree to make payments until you know the rate of interest and the total amount you will pay. Ask if you can get your money back if you change your mind. Ask if the contract is revocable or irrevocable. Find out if there is a withdrawal penalty and how much it is.
  • DO find out the name of the bank or insurance company that is acting as the trustee of the plan. Ask if your funds are protected and transferable.
  • DO keep a copy of any contract you sign in a safe place that your family knows about.
  • DO be cautious. When purchasing a pre-need plan, a licensed Ohio funeral director is usually the best source. Ask to see the license.

Funerals and Cremation
Choosing cremation does not mean choosing not to have a funeral service. Quite contrary, those who chose to hold calling hours and a funeral prior to cremation are usually grateful they did because it gave them time to adjust to the death of their loved one.