Throughout history, humans have responded to the loss of a loved one by taking action and doing something beyond just expressing words of support. This is true across religious and cultural lines. Rituals such as bathing or washing the deceased, digging an interment space by hand, escorting the body to the final resting place, performing music, kneeling in reverence, wailing, placing flowers on a casket, gathering at a house of worship, walking or driving in a procession, or preparing food for a post funeral gathering are all physical actions that are a natural part of how people express loss.


In his book, Do Funerals Matter, author William G. Hoy, a widely regarded authority on the role of social support in death, dying, and grief, makes a strong case for the value of rituals in how we process our grief.  He uses the phrase, “walk out what you can’t talk out,” which he developed over his years of research on how people have responded to loss over the centuries.


According to Hoy, humans experiencing loss often feel a deep desire – or a need – to do something. They may have sleepless nights, anxiety, fear, and a general sense of being out of control. Being active helps give people a sense of normalcy. Research also suggests that funeral rituals may help reduce psychological stress temporarily.


Rituals serve as guides during significant life events and stressful periods. Knowing which rituals are ahead during a day, a year, or period in life quells uncertainty, makes transitions manageable, and tempers feelings of anxiety.


The funeral service is in many ways a centerpiece for rituals. Funerals provide a structure for helping people say goodbye to their loved ones so that the healing process may begin.


To learn more about how to plan a funeral that honors a life well lived, call 888-204-3131 or visit us at Our caring planners will gladly answer any questions you may have.