Monday, November 9, 2009

Is Ritual Important?

no funeral
This incredibly moving photo from The Vancouverite was sent out by my esteemed colleagues at Seattle's Evergreen Washelli Funeral Home, who assisted the family of slain Seattle Police officer, Tim Brenton. The photo shows some of the 220 Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers who attended Officer Brenton's funeral services.
In addition to being a powerful statement of respect and remembrance for Officer Brenton, the uniforms and solidarity shown here are an important lesson to anyone who plans a funeral or memorial service: Ritual is Important

When a loved one or colleague or neighbor dies, we need to acknowledge the importance and gravity of the event through our clothing and our demeanor. Even our presence is powerful, meaningful and healing for those who have lost a loved one.

When our world has turned upside down, we need the comfort of familiar ritual. Walking through those formal steps and acting out those time honored rites helps us to accept and deal with the new reality both inside and out.

Personalization and improvisation are important and increasingly popular in funerals these days, but we should never forget the importance of ritual because ritual speaks for us when the right words just cannot be found.

1 comment:

Bill said...

Rituals help us to act out those feelings we can't put into words. Good post Pat, I agree.

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Funeral service faces a crisis of relevance, and I am passionate about keeping the best traditions of service alive while adapting to the changing needs of families. Feel free to contact me with questions, or to share your thoughts on funeral service, ritual, and memorialization.