By Jason Meidl, funeral director at Creston Valley Funeral Services
Death is something that each of us must face at some point in our lives. This past weekend, I found myself in another city acting as a funeral celebrant for a family member who had recently passed away. After the service was done and the reception had started, I found myself chatting with a woman I had never met before. Once she realized I was a funeral director, her first question to me was “Do you think we live in a death-denying culture?” My response was 100 per cent. We have changed the verbiage we use to lessen the reality of death. For example, we use words like “coach” instead of “hearse”. Many people don’t see the need to attend funerals, and for some, death is too much of a reminder of their own mortality. My goal is to hopefully normalize death through education via this column and the random conversations I have with people.
“As a parent, should I bring my children to funerals?” – Sean
This is a question I hear often. As a parent, I understand the dilemma. As a funeral director, my children are very comfortable with death, possibly a little too comfortable! I believe it’s important to not shield our children from death. Kids are more resilient than we give them credit for. When it comes to viewing, I don’t think there is anything wrong with giving children the choice as to whether to see grandma or not. Forcing a child to view a loved one who has died is something I would never recommend, but allowing them to make that choice is something I recommend 100 per cent. For kids, especially at younger ages, seeing someone who has died can help them with moving forward. You would be surprised at how comfortable kids actually are with death. At the funeral of my wife’s grandmother, my oldest child, who was four at the time, wanted to see her Oma. We respected her choice to do that and what happened next still brings tears to my eyes. My wife went in and the tears were flowing freely. Our little one gave a kiss to Oma and then gently stroked mom’s hair and said, “It’s okay, mom. Oma’s okay.”
“When I die do I need to use the local funeral home?” – Wayne
The short answer is – not at all. Often times, we connect with a particular funeral home or funeral director either through past experience or a personal connection. Often times as a funeral director, I deal with families who are visiting from out of town. When someone dies, it is almost always a traumatic experience. So why wouldn’t you want to deal with someone who you are comfortable with?
Interesting Fact of the Week:
This week, we are focusing on moving away from being a death-denying culture, and rather, looking at death as something natural. It’s interesting that in other cultures, death isn’t viewed as a type of failure and tragedy. For example, the ancient Egyptians believed death was just one of life’s many passages.
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