If you’ve ever attended one of Dr. Bill Hoy’s seminars, you’ve inevitably heard about the importance of ceremony, how he attends every funeral he can, and why he thinks funerals are so important. Most of us are probably not as enthusiastic as Dr. Hoy when it comes to planning, much less attending a funeral.
Well, why do you think that is?
I’ll tell you what I think. I think it’s because the funeral profession has been doing funerals badly for a very long time. Think about it, go back to the last funeral you attended – was it what you would want for yourself? Was it personal or general? Was there more talk about celebration or grief? Did the person officiating even know the deceased?
Most people upon leaving a funeral that is full of platitudes and only vaguely focused on the deceased, will feel or express a sense of dissatisfaction over the lack of meaning and value that they were hoping to receive from the service. After all, a service is a very important part of beginning the rough road through grief. Gathering together is a wonderful thing, but if the gathering itself isn’t designed to shepherd you within the loss, then why bother going?
Throughout our society there seems to be a pervasive and general fear of facing death.
I remember my father, a funeral director with O’Connor for over 25 years, coming home and telling me how frustrated he was with the term, “Celebration of life”. He said, “at it’s core is the desire to avoid the death that ‘s taken place. I’m not saying that celebrating a life is a bad thing, but it has to be coupled with grieving the death.” (isn’t he soo wise?)
After all, the funeral isn’t really for the deceased – it’s for the people who are now facing life without this person around to love & guide them. It’s for the people who are going to notice the absence, it’s for the people who felt compelled to attend the service. It’s for you.
So, here’s what we can begin to do about this.
– Talk to our loved ones ahead of time. If you are thinking of planning your own funeral, talk to your spouse or your children, the people who will need this service the most. See what they would like to do and make some plans together. Turn it into something special and unique – this can honestly be one of the greatest gifts you give them.
On the other hand, if you are thinking of broaching this topic with your parents or your dear sweet aunt, I would encourage you to attend the “Plan Well . . . Live Well” talk that our President & CEO, Neil O’Connor, will be presenting next week. Click here for more information. This is a tricky and often very emotional conversation to have, but our families back us up when we say, it is better to have this conversation than to wish that you had.
– Make a list of your life. Long or short, write down what you would like high-lighted at your own funeral service. What parts of your life are you the most proud about? What life lessons would you want your loved ones to hear from you? Perhaps there’s a Bible verse, a favorite quote, or some other token you’d like people to remember you by. No one knows you better than you!
– Select a mortuary. Plan some things ahead of time, maybe even fund your funeral so your children won’t have to worry about the money. Here are the 3 questions we think you should be asking as you consider a provider.
– How will you take care of me? Of my family?
– Why should I trust you?
– What makes you different?
We want to bring meaning and value back into the funeral service. We want you to leave funeral services glad that you attended.We want you to leave feeling like there was no better way to spend your afternoon.
Such insight revealed in your blog. I do hope that folks who read this will come away with the realization of how important ceremony is to us as a community, a nation, a world. And, because we know this first hand, as it is part of what we choose to do everyday, our response and purpose is to enlighten and educate our community to the blessing and the healing power that ceremony provides. It is, in fact, the very last way we show our respect, our love, and our heartbreak, for the one who has died.
Very well done, and thank you. Thank you for all of your input and your abilities as you help us reach out through social media, to affect the lives of our families and friends.
Sending love . .
Hi Molly –
After 25 years of planning and attending funerals, memorials, graveside services, memorials at sea, paddle out to sea and many more ceremoniesI can say there is great value of ceremonies. I have never had someone tell me that a ceremony was a waste of their time, actually just the opposite. I have had many people tell me that they have major issues or regrets when they did not have the opportunity to attend a ceremony, because there was no ceremony planned. I understand that everyones needs and traditions are different, and we can help plan a unique ceremony that will offer value to the family and friends. I am sorry that does not answer your question…………………
Wow Molly, this is amazing! I agree with you 100% that funerals have to be done just right- we only have one chance to do this. Each day that I go to work, it is my calling to design a meaningful service for the families I care for. When I’m off work & my job becomes a topic of conversation, I take that opportunity to get people thinking about just what is a fitting tribute for them & encourage them to put in in a preneed contract or at the very least tell their family the specifics. I also share that I’ve designed my own service & have it in writing. They say “But you’re so young, why would you do that?” so I tell them that we are not guaranteed tomorrow & I’ve got the gift of preparation for my family when my time comes. Thank you so much for this amazing blog! XOXOX