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Who Are Funerals For—the Living or Deceased?

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Funerals are an important part of cultures around the world, with the earliest rituals dating back thousands of years.

When a loved one passes, a funeral serves as a tribute to a life well-lived. However, it’s also an important way for those left behind to begin the grieving process.

More recently, funeral services have evolved to allow greater personalization in honoring a loved one—and some individuals are taking care of their own final arrangements to relieve the stress by planning ahead of time.

The discussion surrounding the purpose of funerals raises an important question: who are funerals for—the living or the deceased? Below we offer two perspectives.

Funerals are for the living...

The passing of a loved one is arguably the most difficult experience anyone will encounter in their life.

For that reason, many people believe that the process of planning and holding a funeral is an important part of accepting the reality of death. This psychologist suggests the connections made between friends and family at a funeral are critical while experiencing the process of grieving—they help us understand what it means to love and be human.

The opportunity to say goodbye to a loved one in a meaningful way is a chance for those left behind to process their emotions and take the first steps towards healing.

...but they honor the deceased.

Families sometimes struggle to decide on funeral plans that align with the wishes of the deceased and satisfy their personal opinions instead. While it is important to respect the desires of your loved one, there are plenty of ways to add personal touches to their funeral.

A few to consider include:

  • A photo board or video tribute.
  • Special musical requests, readings, or religious verses.
  • Traditional funeral memorials, including flowers or memorial cards.
  • A display of your loved one’s cherished belongings.

While you won’t be there to witness it, your funeral is one of the few milestones in life where all family and friends will gather to celebrate you. And although planning a funeral signals finality, it is usually one of the first steps in memorializing a life.

Including an individual’s achievements and best characteristics in their eulogy is a traditional way to honor the meaning of someone’s life. Other friends and family members may choose to carry out their loved one’s goals or “bucket list” items during the grieving process.

No matter the decisions you make regarding your loved one’s funeral plans, the process is an important step in acknowledging their passing and remembering their legacy.

Record Your Final Wishes With Preplanning

Preplanning your funeral allows you to determine your final wishes and arrangements ahead of time, removing the need for your family to make these decisions. Download our Seniors' Guide to Funeral Arrangements to learn more about the preplanning process today.

Download our preplanning guide

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Jim Busch
Jim Busch
Owner and president of our firm. Fourth generation funeral director and certified crematory operator, Jim is guided by his principles in faith, family and friends. He loves to hear feedback from our families. Proudly serving Busch families since 1986.

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