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Should you have a funeral?

Recently I was approached by somebody who didn't want to have a funeral and wondered what she could legally do to stop her family holding one for her after she was dead. This got me thinking. Why do we have funerals? Are they for the living or for the dead?

It would seem that every culture has some sort of remembrance ceremony for somebody who has died and that this practice goes back for thousands of years. An archaelogical dig in Alaska found the remains of a cremated three year old child. She had been placed in the middle of a dwelling and then the house burned down around her, indicating that she may have been the child of a chief. Flowers were being placed on graves 13,700 years ago. 

Funerals allow for people to come together to support each other, allowing them to acknowledge their loss. They help to reinforce the reality of the death and give an opportunity for the family to begin to adapt to their new role within the community (e.g widow). 

Funerals or memorial services are for the living - our culture would be worse off with them. 

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