X-Message-Number: 3427
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 1994 16:58:34 -0500 (EST)
Subject: CRYONICS The Funeral part 5

date sent:  23-NOV-1994 16:54:20 
  rms "memorial service" and "funeral," i.e., thinking that they are the
  same.  However, in the mind and practice of the funeral industry, there is a
  distinction.  All funerals are memorial services, but not all memorial
  services are funerals.  A memorial service is service WITHOUT THE BODY
  PRESENT, and it is intended to take the place of a funeral service.  A
  funeral always has the body present.

With regard to memorial services, here are two quotations from two
psychiatrists who have studied death, grief and mourning:

Alfred A. Messer of Emory University, recently said, "When there is a funeral,
there should be a body there and I think it should be an open casket.  When
there is death, there should be a funeral.  These is no association in
people's minds between a memorial service and a man who died two weeks ago."

William M. Lamers, Jr. who practices psychiatry in Kentfield, California,
wrote the following in Medical Economics:  "Are there any satisfactory funeral
substitutes--a memorial service for example?  In my opinion, there aren't. 
Though a memorial service is a response to loss and can be extremely
satisfying for many, it's not ideal because it lacks several basic elements.  
First, a memorial service usually doesn't take place when feelings are most
intense, which is shortly after death.  Second, members of the family aren't
involved in communication, participation and repeated exposure to the fact
that death has occurred.  These things force people to acknowledge the reality
of loss.  Finally, a memorial service doesn't include the presence of the
body, which means people aren't given as great an opportunity to fix the fact
of death in their minds."

There has been an ever increasing interest over the last three decades by many
to explore and encourage simplicity in funerals, creative and meaningful
alternatives in body disposition, and to make death less expensive.  Such an
effort began here in Washington State in 1939 and continues today and is
widely known and recognized.  The People's Memorial Association is dedicated
to the values of reverence, dignity, compassion and reason.  As a non-profit
memorial society, it is democratic and functions to obtain dignity, simplicity
and economy in funeral arrangements through pre-planning.  Many have found it
to be the answer for them, and it serves all irregardless of race, creed, or
color.  For the address of this organization, and the nationwide association,
see References and Resources.

"Everyone agrees that people have the right to, and deserve, every possible
choice in the matter of funerals.  The People's Memorial Association is just
that, another option.  Their funeral plans are simple, economical, dignified,
and most commendable.  I am very happy the plan is being brought to the
attention of the Catholic People."  (Rev. John J. Morris, S.J.)


In view of our rapidly expanding technology and the changing attitudes of one
generation from the other, it seems reasonable to ask the question, "Will our
society have funerals one hundred years hence, two hundred years?"

Paul E. Irion has vigorously questioned many parts of the American funeral in
his book.  For example:

"The funeral can, however, be a means by which the attitudes of the culture
toward death and mourning are reshaped.  Ritual is not merely a passive
reflector of cultural values; it also can participate in the structuring of
these values.  It is not impossible for the funeral to be restored to its
basic purposes and functions and to exert a potent influence upon American
thought and behavior.  It can be a force in stemming the neurotic flight from
reality of our time by affording the support that is necessary for the
individual to confront death and loss realistically.  It can undergird the
acceptance and defiance of death rather than the denying of death.  It can
resist the radical separation of death from life and deepen life's meaning by
acknowledging the dramatic encounter with the reality of death."  (P.E. Irion.
 THE FUNERAL:  VESTIGE OR VALUE?  Nashville;  Parthenon Press, 1966, p. 59)

Research findings have and continue to substantiate the fact that for most
people, the death of a loved one or significant other is a traumatic event,
even a major life crisis.  Funerals have in the past provided for the
disposition of the dead, and have been a vehicle for the expression and
management of sorrow and grief for the bereaved; and, in all likelihood, the
funeral will continue to provide that same beneficient service in the
foreseeable future. 

Kenneth E. Barber, Ph.D., Extension Sociologist, Washington State University,
Cooperative Extension Service, 7/78.
Author: Barbara W. Davis, Adult Development and Aging Specialist Agricultural
and Extension Education, Penn State

September 1, 1993
Document Number: 28602358

Jan (John) Coetzee

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