Grief is a vital process that you must go through when you lose someone from your life. You will journey through a wide range of emotions and there is no official timeline for it to follow. Grief does not listen to rules. Just when you think you have it under control, it turns up again unexpectedly. For some of us it never really leaves.
Grieving is an entanglement of internal thoughts and feelings. No one can tell you what you must feel and when those emotions should stop. What you are feeling is right for you; sorrow, anger, guilt, anxiety, despair, resentment, isolated, yearning, lonely, afraid and even relief.
When it comes to loss, grief is accompanied by mourning. Mourning can’t bring your loved one back, so you may try to rationalize the purpose of mourning and just put it all behind and try to move on by burying your emotions. Yet, you need mourning to accept the loss.
Losing someone is hard for your brain to process and mourning empowers you to accept and emotionally process the death and loss of your loved one. A funeral is the opportunity to share memories and adapt to your life without that person who meant so much to you, it is a safe time to show your sadness and hurt and invite others to support or mourn with you.
Dependant on your culture or religious affiliations, mourning and funeral rituals will be different. As our community becomes increasingly diverse and changes in our own lifestyles throughout the era’s many rituals have evolved or been lost. Once an upon a time, wearing black or a mourning armband acknowledged to the world you were recently bereaved and still in a stage of mourning, until that time you choose not to wear black to mark its ending. Nowadays there isn’t that formal visual communication that alerts people around you that you are bereaved. The ritual of a funeral has a crucial role in supporting people through the mourning steps needed to aid with their own grieving process.
To heal in grief, we must shift our relationship with the person who died from one of physical presence to one of memory, which is hard as you may spend days, weeks or months denying that they have really gone. The funeral allows family and friends to acknowledge your loved one’s passing, it helps to bring a sense of understanding whilst within the support of family and friends. The chance to share memories of your loved one, either by eulogy or casually with others, provides a haven to legitimise your own pain of loss which helps you and themselves, to reconcile their grief.
As funerals are traditionally held in a public venue, they make a social statement asking, “to come and support us”. Without a funeral, you are telling your family and friends, that you don’t need or want support. Funerals are one of the few times you can freely let your guard down, show your emotions, be embraced, held and comforted. When your family and friends attend a funeral, they don’t need to find the right words to say, their presence says it all; they are there in support of you.
When you lose someone, it feels that part of you no longer exists; you are no longer a husband, mother, brother or best friend of that person. Accepting the need to grieve and mourn, the funeral will give you courage to realise that you no longer have the existing relationship. It will also allow you to accept that the relationship will always exist, if only as a memory which will continue to be shared and not forgotten by family and friends.