Funeral directors often hear from family that a loved one didn't want a funeral. Quite frequently it's prefaced by "mum didn't want to make a fuss" or "dad said to just keep it simple and put him in a cardboard box".
While these statements are often said with good intentions, quite often they've been made by a family member who is thinking they're sparing loved ones extra grief, or maybe saving the family money.
The reasons for having a funeral are many. It offers a respectful way to farewell a loved one but it also offers a way to express beliefs, thoughts and feelings about the person and about life and death.
A meaningful and personalised service can be a way for your loved ones to receive support from their friends and acquaintances and begin their grief process. Additionally it allows time to support others and to share your life story and values with them.
The funeral can be elaborate or simple, public or private, but not having any service or event limits the opportunities for your loved ones to be supported, to mourn, and to say goodbye.
Alan D Wolfelt, Ph.D, explains in his "Hierarchy of the Purposes of the Funeral" that a funeral allows us a chance to "convert our relationship with the person who died from one of presence to one of memory". It provides a quiet time to reflect and to begin the transition to their new definition of life without you.
Modern funerals, memorial services or events today can take many forms. Really they can be constructed in any way you wish - including traditional, non-traditional or services somewhere in between. Your experience may be that funerals are inside a church, seated in rows, with long eulogies and dreary hyms, but you can meet in a favourite garden, or in the community hall, have live music or display examples of crafts or hobbies by your loved one. Don't be afraid to bring up questions about options which help you and the family celebrate the life of your family member.