The Beauty of a Small Funeral
In some situations, a very small, intimate farewell for immediate-family-only can be much more healing than a large funeral service.
COVID-19 restrictions (while deemed too tough by some people) actually demonstrated very clearly that a smaller gathering can result in a very powerful and emotive ceremony which has the potential to be better suited to the deceased when compared to a huge ceremony.
Families have commented they felt freed from the pressure of the "arrangements", the speculation on how many will attend, how to accommodate interstate family and the fear of delivering a eulogy to a large group.
Some choose to hold their small gathering in the family home or garden – sharing a cup of tea (or perhaps something harder) around the coffin, listening to music and quietly preparing themselves to let their loved one go.
It is particularly powerful to "bring someone home" when there has been a period in hospital, or a nursing home.
Often we will use this time to place flowers and write messages of farewell on the coffin before the hearse departs.
It is amazing how much genuine healing this simple ceremony can bring.
Some gatherings have been held in bush clearings, on the shores of Pittwater and at Narrabeen Lake as well as in traditional chapels and churches.
Without exception, families have reported that they have felt more "complete" and that their grief was somehow more "resolved" than perhaps if a larger and more traditional funeral service was held.
Most then follow with a Memorial or Celebration of Life a week of so afterwards, at which they may have a slideshow, spoken tributes, music and refreshments for the broader community.
The visual focus of the Memorial can be a table of memorabilia - photographs, journals, medals, perhaps a fishing rod or a tool belt - the things that bring the person into the room.
Handwritten notes or postcards are especially evocative - as are favourite hats, scarves or a watch that still bears the shape of their wrist.
These are just a few ideas of how we encourage families to reflect and remember their loved ones entire life, rather than focusing only on the sadness of their death.
Every person is unique. Every family is different.
With us, every Funeral is Individual.
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