X-Message-Number: 3417
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 1994 12:29:21 -0500 (EST)
Subject: SCI.CRYONICS The Funeral Part 4

Date sent:  17-NOV-1994 12:20:00 

are the loss and grief 
  with the bereaved.

- Express social understanding of the relationship between the bereaved and 
  the deceased.

- Facilitate the strengthening of relationships among the living.

- Provides for the humane disposal of the dead, maintains the dignity of both 
  the dead and the living.


- Reinforce the reality of death.

- Provide meaningful memory and understanding of the deceased for the living.

- Encourage the freedom to develop new human relationships without violating 
  the integrity of the relationship with the deceased.

- Provide opportunity for the meaningful release of authentic feelings; helps 
  dispel potential pathologies.

- Provides a transition out of grief and reminds us that life must go on.


- Enable the bereaved to be meaningfully related to their religious resources.

- Help the bereaved to develop and/or improve their understanding of the 
  meaning of life and death.

- Assist the bereaved to more fully intellectually, emotionally, and 
  spiritually understand the nature of man and the purpose of mortality.

- Provides opportunities for spiritual growth, insight and personal growth.


When considering the functions and purposes of funerals in general, or of any
specific funeral, it is not uncommon to also consider the question, "Was it
worth it? or "What value did it have?"  It has been easy to try to arrive at
answers to such questions, especially by the critics of funeral practices, by
describing the worth of a funeral in terms of economics or its dollar costs. 
It is not difficult to add up the bills for a funeral and consider the final
total sum.  And, whatever the size of that figure, one could say that that
amount was whatever, e.g.--insignificant, a very great amount, not too bad,
manageable, a burden, etc.  It would be any one of those things depending upon
other factors, e.g., available resources, ability to pay, values, willingness
to sacrifice, etc.

There seems to be another way to arrive at the value or worth of a funeral.  A
funeral's value could be determined upon the criteria of how well it performed
its functions, i.e., in terms of acting as a means for the meaningful
expression of grief; and how well it functioned in meeting the social,
psycho-emotional, and spiritual needs of the bereaved.  Thus, if a funeral
performed in meeting the above needs of the bereaved, it would be a valuable
or worthwhile funeral regardless of how much or how little it cost.  And, in
the same way, a funeral that failed to meet and satisfy those needs would be
of no value or worthless regardless of its cost.

This may be a way to emphasize human values and needs as being of more worth
and value that the dollar.


It has already been stated that we live in a society that encourages and
tolerates diversity; and that in regard to the funeral there is an equally
diverse range of attitudes, feelings, and opinions, i.e., what is acceptable,
desirable, proper, and "the right way to do things."

It may be that some individuals and families feel that a funeral service is
just not for them.  Sometimes the preference may take the form of "We don't
want a funeral," "Funerals are morbid," "Funerals are unchristian or
barbaric," "Funerals are too expensive," "We don't believe in body worship,"
"We can intellectualize our feelings and emotions," "We want to get it over
with as soon as we can," or "Our grief is private, no one feels about the
deceased like we do."  The idea is that not everyone feels the same about how
their dead should be taken care of.

There has been a great deal said and written about alternate forms of the
funeral and alternatives to the funeral service.  There are some valid reasons
why this is true.  It appears that each succeeding generation adopts a
slightly different perspective from the previous generation about the
importance and nature of its traditions, customs, rituals and ceremonies.  For
example, we've observed changes, a loss of meaning and significance in family
ceremonies like baptisms, weddings, and funerals.  Secondly, the rate of
social change is so rapid today that many people are unwilling to keep on
doing something merely because it is "traditional," or "it's always been done
that way."  Thirdly, there have been dramatic changes in life styles, i.e.,
mate selection, marriage, size of families, residence patterns, mobility, sex
roles, equal rights, work patterns and employment, etc.  All these changes
have had an influence on the kinds of ceremonies that have meaning and
importance for people.  Lastly, there has been a decrease in the influence of
religion on the individual and on the ceremonies and rituals that are part and
parcel of our social fabric. 

The alternatives that we speak about here are alternatives to the funeral
service (rite), and not with phases such as removal, place of disposition or

The options are few but they may take a variety of forms.  No attempt will be
made here to provide an elaboration of all the forms and alternatives.

- IMMEDIATE DISPOSITION.  This usually involves the removal of the dead from
  the place of death; no preparation of the body; securing and filing the
  necessary forms and permits, and immediate cremation or burial without any
  formal rites or ceremonies.

- BODY DONATION.  This is the giving of the dead body directly to an
  institution, e.g., medical school, science laboratories; without formal
  preparation and without formal rites or funeral service.  Memorial services
  or a funeral at a later date when the body has been returned may or may not
  be held.

- MEMORIAL SERVICE.  There is some confusion and interchangeable use of the

Jan (John) Coetzee.

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