Yesterday’s funerals no longer work for today’s families. The ritual is in danger of disappearing, and that is bad news for people’s emotional healing.
Dr. Alan Wolfelt, a psychologist trained in life transitions, said, “More and much more individuals in North America are asking’ Why have a funeral?'”
Customers are saying, “When I die, just get rid of me no muss, no fuss. Perhaps have a party, but I sure don’t want a funeral.” “Dad said he didn’t want us to go to any trouble, so we’re merely going to do what he said.” “We just thought it will be a lot easier, faster, and cheaper.”
Wolfelt explained that efficiency should not be confused with effectiveness. He said, “We’ve gone from funerals to memorial services to celebrations to parties. In the process, we have lost the connection to grief and emotion.”
Everyone is losing sight of the value of holding some type of ritual service, a secure place to grieve as well as mourn. Frequently, the people who don’t recognize a death with a funeral or even memorial service are in a psychologist’s office six months later with problems related to unexpressed emotions.
Folks in the U.S. have become a progressively “mourning-avoidant” culture, in which people are likely to want to avoid sadness. At a meaningful funeral, folks laugh one moment and cry another as they share stories that cause laughter along with tears. This experience of “paradoxical emotions” leads to what Wolfelt calls the “sweet spot of emotional experience.”
Traditional clergy doing cookie cutter funerals with very little relevance to the deceased or even their family have also contributed to the decline of funerals. Wolfelt and Doug Manning, founder of the In-Sight Institute, which certifies nondenominational funeral celebrants, both noted the declining number of Americans who attend church and the growing number of interfaith families.
The 2010 American Religious Identification Survey estimated that approximately 15 % of the American population do not attend religious services or even consider themselves church affiliated. In case you grouped every one of the identified “nones” into a state, it would be the second largest state in the union, right behind California and before Texas.
In our highly mobile society with fewer ties to church or even a certain religion, there is a growing corps of Funeral Celebrants who can provide families a personalized and individualized funeral or memorial service experience.
A Funeral Celebrant is trained in the specific area of conducting funerals and memorial services for families who are not associated with a religion or even a theology. Celebrants are able to assist a family unit with no clergyperson on whom to call when there is a death, along with those uncomfortable with traditional religious funerals.
The use of Certified Celebrants originated in New Zealand and Australia, where eighty % of the population chooses lots of folks and cremation don’t go to a church. Civil Celebrants, who are licensed by the government, perform over fifty % of the funerals and weddings in those countries.
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Doug Manning brought the concept of Certified Funeral Celebrants to North America in 1999 when he founded the In-Sight Institute. In-Sight has certified more than 1,600 Celebrants across the U.S. and internationally.
“I think grief is on the list of major social problems in our life,” said Manning. “Grief doesn’t just go away. Grief has to be dealt with.”
Manning has noticed that Baby Boomers are a significant change in today’s funeral services. They wish to join in and they realize what they want – in music, readings, additional elements and video tributes.
Do you know what you would want in your funeral? Have you’d a chat about it with your family? There is no time like the present to start.