The Funeral and Its Functions
As you reflect on the life that was lived, you will be participating in a ceremony as old as recorded time. The funeral provides an opportunity for the survivors and friends who share in the loss to express their love, respect, and grief. It is a memorial tribute to the deceased, and a “Reflection of Life.” It gives people an opportunity to face openly and realistically the crisis that death represents. Through the funeral ceremony, the bereaved take the first firm steps in the grieving process toward adjustment to their loss. It is also a means of disposition of the human body in a respectful and dignified manner.
There is no one single proper funeral service. It is a time for human sharing in its deepest sense. You and your loved ones are at the very center of the funeral process. The choices you make regarding the funeral service will determine its significance for you. For most, it takes time to face up to the finality of death, the acceptance of the fact that the loved one will no longer be a part of your familiar environment. Most funeral decisions are deeply rooted in religious, ethnic, and community customs combined with consideration for family traditions and preferences.
Calling Hours – Visitation – Wake
The period of the funeral generally begins with the visitation (sometimes referred to as “call hours” or “wake”). It is a time during which relatives, friends, neighbors, fellow workers, and associates pay their respects to the deceased and reminisce about good times past, and where they can often offer hugs, words, written notes, and acts and signs of kindness and comfort to the survivors.
A traditional funeral would involve the transportation of the deceased or loved one from the place of death to the funeral home for proper care, including sanitation, embalming, making arrangements with family or friends; contacting and confirming the timing and location for services and of those participating in the service; notifying the community through the newspaper, radio, e-mail or other means; dressing, placing and positioning the deceased in a casket, applying cosmetics, arranging a visitation area, creating a personalized space for visitation, receiving of family and friends for visitation, setting up for a conventional funeral service at the funeral home, church, or other location; directing family and visitors at the time of service; coordinating details with the officiant, musicians, audio technicians, or other participants for the service and at the conclusion. The funeral home would then transport the deceased to the cemetery or crematory for interment, entombment, or cremation. This often occurs in a funeral procession to the cemetery or crematory, where a final committal is offered.