Dr. Alan Wolfelt, noted author, educator and grief counsellor, speaks about today’s society as being death-denying and mourning-avoiding in his article “Why is the Funeral Ritual Important?”. For the Catholic Church, this change in societal values has become problematic when it comes to following centuries-old accepted rituals when someone dies. The trend today is towards speed and efficiency in saying good-bye to our loved ones who die. More and more, people are opting for direct cremation and, sometimes, no service to acknowledge the life and death of an individual.
Dr. Wolfelt tells us that all of his research and other studies support the importance of funeral rituals and ceremonies, especially when the body our loved one is present, in helping us to acknowledge the reality of death. It gives testimony to the life of the deceased and encourages the expression of grief. Funerals also provide opportunities to support those who are mourning and to allow for the embrace of faith and beliefs about life and death. He believes that individuals, families and society itself will suffer if we do not reinvest in the funeral ritual.