It was Maestro Leonard Bernstein that said, “Funerals are for the living … to rejoice in the one who has caused this coming together.”
When a person dies, he or she leaves behind a legacy, a lifetime of stories, memories, and lives touched. A farewell gathering — any service or celebration that allows families and friends to come together to grieve the loss of a loved one — is a great opportunity to celebrate this legacy.
Without a proper gathering, many family members and friends may feel as though they’ve been left without the proper closure necessary to grieve the loss of their loved one. However, many families opt for direct cremation or another option that surpasses a celebration all together. We believe there is incredible value for families in hosting a farewell gathering, as they can provide a glimmer of hope and happiness in a time of emotional heartache and grief.
1. Gatherings bring closure
When a family gathers to honor the life of someone who has passed, it provides a form of closure that may not be attained if an event like this is avoided. The choice should be less about burial or cremation, and more about understanding how choices impact the well-being of those who cared for and shared life with your loved one. From a religious, spiritual, or emotional aspect, electing to hold a farewell gathering with family and friends to celebrate your loved one’s life one can provide the closure needed to begin the healing process. Keep in mind, your funeral director is there to help plan this service by coordinating all the details from funeral plans, to death certificates, and service or celebration planning.
2. Gatherings provide a reason for families to come together
The old adage “we only get together for weddings and funerals” tends to be true for many families. Busy schedules and geographically disperse relatives means taking advantage of the few opportunities to gather. Though funerals are not ideal situations under which to meet, coming together with loved ones you haven’t seen in months or even years can make meeting under such unfortunate circumstances a bit happier. Lean on each other during this time, and appreciate you are not alone through the toughest part of the healing process.
3. Gatherings can be more about life than death
A growing trend for families is to choose a life celebration over a traditional service following the death of a loved one. Happiness does not seem like a normal emotion to feel after the death of someone so near and dear to your heart. However, it’s during a celebration that a family can acknowledge both the significance of human loss, value of human love, and regain a sense of what is most important in life. This is not to say the celebration must be festive. A life celebration is more about bringing inspiration during the time of a loss, and meant to be heartwarming, uplifting, and meaningful to those closest to the person who has passed.
4. Gatherings can be fully customized to reflect your loved one
Did your loved one have a favorite hobby? Sports team? Song? Color? Through a special farewell gathering, your family has the ability to fully customize the event to reflect your loved one’s life and remaining legacy. Your funeral director can help plan a personalized service based on a special theme, or themes, that is as unique and special as your late friend or family member. Personalizing a celebration pays tribute to your loved one and provides a memorial to bring friends and families comfort and happiness at the time of loss.
It is said that 70% of the people who attend a funeral will not have known the deceased. By planning a customized gathering, these people will leave with a sense that they truly knew your loved one, and will respect the legacy he or she left behind.
5. Gatherings show respect for the deceased
For many families, the choice to hold a gathering comes down to the respect they feel for the deceased. Bypassing the opportunity to celebrate their loved one’s life may feel like they didn’t honor that person in a way they deserved. They may feel as though hastiness with death arrangements would be disrespectful to the person that touched so many lives through his or her time on Earth. Laying a loved one to rest in the most respectful way can bring happiness to a family knowing they paid tribute to the one they adored so dearly.
The choice to revere a loved one through a gathering is one that a family must decide on together. Chat with your funeral director about the options for a farewell gathering, and about opportunities for personalization to celebrate your loved one’s life. Chances are, they will surprise you with how much they are willing and able to do to help honor your late friend or family member.
How has a farewell gathering helped you process your grief and honor your loved one? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!