Most funerals formally come to an end when the mourners gather to share a meal and to talk about the person who died.
These gatherings can take place anywhere, including the funeral home, a church meeting room, a restaurant, or at a home of a friend or family member.
In fact, all thoughts and feelings are welcome at the gathering. People often laugh and hug one another, offering each other support.
While there are often some tears of sadness, the mood may begin to evolve into a sense of peace and a soothing of souls, imbuing the funeral with meaning.
In fact, you may notice that people look different at the gathering than they did during the other parts of the funeral.
They are often more relaxed, less tense. They may even seem joyful and able to glimpse transcendence.
At the gathering, a natural ‘story telling’ of the person’s life and death takes place.
This helps mourners once again acknowledge the reality and finality of death and recall the person who died.
Giving expression to the pain of the loss is another central need of mourning that the gathering helps facilitate.
Memory tables at the gathering also aid recall.
They help capture the personality of the person who died and the unique relationships he or she had.
Some families enjoy continuing to show PowerPoint slides or memory videos.
This is another way to personalise the gathering and often inspires reflection on the life of the person who died.
Special food items may be served to recognise and share the culture, traditions, or simply the favourite food of the person who died.
Before they leave the gathering, mourners often make plans to see each other again or to reach out in various ways to help the primary mourners.
This helps extend the social support value of the funeral and reminds people of the need to continue to be present to each other in the weeks, months, and years ahead.
Source: Dr Alan Wolfelt