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Funerals Are For The Living

By John Roetker

In the course of my over 35 years in funeral service, I have heard many times phrases made in the process of arranging at-need and pre-need funeral services. The phrase is most commonly self-deprecating. It makes reference to the opinion that there need not be a fuss made at the time of their demise. Some would say "Just throw me in a pine box,"or other similar methods of simple and uneventful disposition.

It is common for a person to not want to inconvenience their family and friends. I would offer this advice. The death of one that is dearly loved by family and held in high esteem by friends and co-workers, is NEVER an "inconvenience." While sometimes death can come suddenly and possibly in an untimely manner, family and friends still care deeply.

To deprive family and friends the opportunity to participate in the memorialization process truly does a disservice to them. A visitation and funeral or memorial service affords family and friends the opportunity to share their memories and participate in the grief process. Talking about times shared with the departed loved one can be extremely beneficial. These conversations often spawn a smile, laughter, or sometimes tears. Regardless the emotion, the experience helps the individual, while showing the family there are people out there who knew and mourn their loved one. Death can be a pretty lonely experience for a family. Showing that there are people who knew and loved the deceased and wish to share with and provide emotional support to the family is of great benefit to all.

At most funeral homes, the staff understands that the deceased was a person of extreme importance to those left behind. We also recognize that those remaining need and deserve the opportunity to remember, share, support and heal. Each individual deceased loved one, as well as each family, is unique. That is why no two wakes or visitations, nor any two funeral services, is exactly alike. They can, and should, be customized to be in harmony with both the memory of the deceased, and the wishes and needs of the family.

Balancing these two considerations is usually not too difficult, especially if the deceased had arrangements in place, or the family had access to their loved one's expressed wishes. But sometimes there are conflicts, either between the wishes of the deceased and those of the family, or within the family itself. An experienced funeral director will act as a guide to the family to sort this out.

Whether there was a pre-arrangement, or the family totally arranges the services, the visitation and service are meant to represent the memory of the deceased to those attending. This supports the family and close friends, and provides a way say goodbye. All of these are benefits to those left behind. Funerals are indeed "for the living."

John Roetker owns and operates Gladfelter Funeral Home in Ottawa, Illinois. John has 36 years of experience in the funeral industry, and welcomes questions that deal with the services that funeral homes provide. Most obvious are wake or visitation services, embalming, caskets, and cremation. John also addresses questions about pre-arrangement of funeral services, also known as pre-need. If you have a question about these, or an issue more specific to your situation, you can contact John by email at gladfelter@hughes.net, by phone at (815) 433-0097, or you can visit their website at http://www.gladfelterfuneralhome.com.


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