Why have a funeral service or memorial ceremony at all?

Why should you mourn publicly? In February of this year, local Rabbi Mark S. Glickman wrote a small but important and heartfelt article in the Seattle Times regarding his aunt’s unacknowledged death.

I’ve included a few paragraphs from the article that speak to an often overlooked human condition in these “modern” times – the need of the heart and soul to mourn a loved one’s death in a healthy, public way.

…In accordance with her wishes, there would be no burial rites.  Her body would be cremated without ceremony.

No funeral? Not even a memorial service?  But … but … she had just died!  What was I supposed to do? I felt like I needed to do something about her death — to honor her, to memorialize her somehow.  Was I supposed to just go on as if nothing had happened?

These days, many people don’t want funerals like that.  In fact, many people — such as my Aunt Margie — don’t want funerals at all.  “I don’t want you to be sad,” some say, “I want you to celebrate my life.”  Others dismiss the tradition more humbly.  “A weepy ceremony?  A plot of land and a big stone with my name carved into it?  Don’t bother — you’ve got more important things to do with your time and money.”

Common to both of these perspectives is a desire to de-emphasize or avoid focusing on death.  And frankly, I don’t like it.  My Aunt Margie died. She had a good life; it ended; and somehow the world seems a little different now that she is gone.

That’s a big deal, and those of us whose lives were touched by hers should have had an opportunity to acknowledge her death — for her sake, for our sake, and for the sake of the world in which she lived.

I won’t presume to tell you how you should mourn your loved ones’ deaths, or what preparations you should make for your own.  I will, however, encourage you to remember that human life is awesome and mysterious; that a person’s death is often sad and always significant; and that we mourn best when our actions reflect these great truths.

Rabbi Mark makes clear the point for family, relatives, friends, and community members to publicly memorialize the deceased.

Death is significant, and is deserving of significant ceremony that honors loss by celebrating meaningfully the life of the deceased.  I invite you to contact me to discuss how I might serve you regarding a Funeral, Memorial, or Celebration of Life.

I welcome any questions or inquiries you may have.  Time is often an issue, so please feel free to call me anytime at 425.770.9243, or send me an email to francis@significantceremonies.com.  I will respond to you promptly.


Rev. Francis

Significant Ceremonies NW

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