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The Essential First Step Toward Healing

Photo: Courtesy ofRyan Crotty

A meaningful funeral helps family and friends acknowledge the death and take the first steps on their journey from grief to healing.


Jessica A. Koth

Director of Public Relations, National Funeral Directors Association

Funerals prepare us for the grief journey by giving us time and space to gather, reflect, and remember.

“Oh, just cremate me. I don’t want a service and I don’t want anyone looking at my body.”

Many people have heard loved ones make comments like this. It often stems from a place of love and a desire to alleviate the burden of having to plan a funeral and spare them pain and grief. However, in actuality, not having a funeral can make things more difficult for those who are grieving the loss.

Whether you or your loved one are members of a formal religion, are spiritual but not religious, or have other beliefs, a funeral is a unique way of honoring a person’s life and can be a great source of comfort to those survivors who are grieving the loss.

Funerals are held to honor the unique life of the individual who died. However, while funerals are about the individual who died, they are held for the living.

Funerals offer loved ones the time and space to comfort and support one another, sharing their thoughts and feelings about the life of the deceased. They can be a formal, structured event based on religious ritual; a less formal gathering or celebration of life in a special place; or perhaps something in between.

Whatever form they take, a meaningful funeral helps family and friends acknowledge the death and take the first steps on their journey from grief to healing.

Your trusted guide

When a loved one dies and an individual is responsible for planning a funeral service, it can be difficult to know where to begin. There are hundreds of decisions that need to be made and tasks that need to be carried out in the matter of a few days.

Given that the average person makes funeral arrangements for a loved one only once or twice in their lifetime, it is natural to feel overwhelmed. Fortunately, there are specially trained professionals to guide individuals and families as they begin their grief journey: funeral directors. In addition to completing specialized training and passing licensing exams, funeral directors receive ongoing professional education and often complete voluntary certification programs.

First and foremost, funeral directors want to make things as easy as possible so families can focus on grieving and healing. They are familiar with local and state laws that pertain to making funeral arrangements and will help take care of all necessary details, including taking your loved one into his or her care from the hospital, nursing home, or home.

Dealing with grief

In taking a deceased loved one into their care, funeral directors commit to ensuring the loved one’s remains are cared for with respect and honor. They also commit to caring for the family and friends dealing with tremendous loss as they begin their grief journey.

Funeral directors are skilled in creating memorable life tribute events. They have unique ideas and access to special resources to help your family be as creative as they need to be when planning a service that captures the essence of their loved one’s life.

Entering the profession of funeral service is a calling for funeral directors who dedicate themselves to making a difference in the lives of people experiencing the tremendous loss that follows the death of a loved one. Families can count on these highly skilled, compassionate caregivers to help them as they begin their journey toward healthy healing.

For more information about remembering loved ones in meaningful ways and finding grief resources, visit

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