Grief & Guidance
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It's interesting; funerals and celebrations-of-life have much in common, yet they often appear very different. Each is a ceremony; a gathering of people who share a common loss. It's just that one is more rooted in tradition and scripture, while the other is based on more personalized content. But both serve to do three things:
1. Help the bereaved family, and their community, publically acknowledge the death of one of their own.
2. Support the grieving family by surrounding them with caring friends, co-workers, and neighbors.
3. Move the deceased from one social status to another.
Commonly composed of three activities, the visitation, the funeral service, and the committal service, performed at the graveside; this funeral is the one we'd easily recognize from contemporary literature and film.
The Visitation: Held prior to the funeral, often the days before but sometimes on the same day, the visitation (or viewing) is a time when people come to support the family and, more importantly, pay their respects to the deceased. This often involves stepping up to the casket to view the body; either in the company of a member of the surviving family or on your own.
The Funeral Service: Commonly held in the funeral home or church, the traditional funeral service is led by an officiant of one kind or another; most often a pastor, priest or rabbi. This individual follows a funeral order of service which may include the singing of hymns; and invocations, Bible recitations, Scripture readings, and prayers led by the clergy.
The Committal Service: This takes place at the cemetery, after a slow and respectful automobile procession from the place where the funeral was held. The committal service ends when the remains are lowered into the ground or entombed in a mausoleum/niche and final prayers are said.
Author Barbara Kingsolver, wrote “To live is to be marked. To live is to change, to acquire the words of a story, and that is the only celebration we mortals really know.” We think this reflection is at the heart of a celebration-of-life. While a funeral, as we've described it above, has more to do with the orderly and often spiritually-defined; a celebration-of-life is more concerned with telling the story of the deceased. Celebrations-of-life are just that: a time people come together to celebrate the unique personality and achievements of the deceased.
Celebrations-of-life can be held in conjunction with a traditional funeral service. This gives the family the opportunity to host a personalized tribute to their loved one; perhaps the evening before the funeral, as well as a conventinal funeral service or Mass.
Generally, there's more room for creativity in a celebration-of-life service. Celebrations-of-life can be held after the individual's physical remains have been cared for through burial or cremation; and as such, allows more time available to plan the event. And without doubt, this allows you to make more detailed decisions about how you'd like to celebrate the life of someone you dearly loved. We are proud to have Anna F. Nesbit, F.D., a Certified Celebrant, available to answer questions about a unique and special Celebration of Life
We've got years of experience listening, brainstorming, and advising families how they can best pay tribute to a beloved family member. That means we're the perfect people to help you arrange the details of the funeral, celebration-of -life, or other service. We'll explore your funeral service options with you in detail, taking all the time you need.
Call our funeral home at (412) 793-3000 to speak with a member of our staff.
Barbara Kingsolover, The Poisonwood Bible