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Many people today question the value of traditional funeral. There are those who say they see no need for family or friends to view them or to have a funeral following their death. They say that viewing the deceased and attending a funeral can be upsetting. Many people who feel this way are saying so because they don’t want their death to cause any hardship or pain for their family or friends. It is important to recognize that funerals are for the living…for those who have suffered the trauma of losing someone they love. It is through the funeral process that a number of emotional needs are met. The funeral declares that a death has occurred, commemorates the life that has been lived, and offers family and friends the opportunity to pay tribute to someone they love. Expedience, or moving too quickly, is not always the best in dealing with the death of someone you love.

Many people have seen someone approach a casket and begin to cry when they look at the deceased. At that moment, the idea of viewing a deceased person may seem like a bad thing. Why should the family endure the pain associated with seeing someone they love “laid out” in a casket? Would it be easier to bury or cremate the deceased after death occurs, without a viewing or ceremony?

Many mental health professionals say that by viewing the deceased, and feeling all of the emotions associated with doing so, is very healthy emotionally. When someone we love dies, we have grief that we must work through. Viewing the deceased is a very healthy way to work through some of the grief associated with a death.

There can be a tremendous amount of relief when the deceased looks so much better than they did during a long and difficult illness. This is often much more desirable for long time remembrance than the last time a critically ill person was seen.

The visitation serves many different people involved in funeral. It gives the family a time to view the deceased in a less formal setting than a funeral ceremony. It allows friends the opportunity to visit with the family and show their support. Usually the visitation is on the day before the funeral, in the afternoon or evening or both. Many times the people who want to pay their respects and show their support to the family of the deceased, work and cannot attend a funeral ceremony during the day. The visitation allows more people to participate in the funeral experience.

The funeral ceremony is a formal way of saying good-bye. Consumer research and grief experts suggest meaningful ceremonies provide closure. But most importantly the funeral is a vital part of the process that allows the bereaved to adjust to an abruptly altered life.