Here at McKeon Funeral Home, we're keenly aware of the value of each ritual tradition. No matter your spiritual or cultural heritage, you are assured we will not only honor the underlying beliefs within your chosen funeral traditions; we will do everything necessary to facilitate the processes and successfully perform the traditional, essential elements within your loved one's funeral service. To learn more about how we will affirm and support your family's traditions, call us at (718) 655-6464 to speak with a member of our professional staff.
What is their Importance?
Much like many other occasions in our lives where traditional rituals are involved–baptisms, communions, graduations and weddings–funeral rituals exist to support us during times of transition and change. Elizabeth Gilbert, in her best-selling book, Eat, Pray, Love, wrote of the critical importance of rituals: “This is what rituals are for. We do spiritual ceremonies as human beings in order to create a safe resting place for our most complicated feelings of joy or trauma, so that we don't have to haul those feelings around with us forever, weighing us down. We all need such places of ritual safekeeping."(Source)
No matter the culture, time, or place, these rituals are guided (at least to some degree) by tradition, and today's funeral traditions are no different. Consider the unique ritual practices found in the Philippines, where the Caviteño (who live near the capital city of Manila), bury a deceased family member in the hollowed-out trunk of a tree. Then there are the sky burials of the Vajrayana Buddhists living in Tibet and Mongolia. In Madagascar, there's the Famadihana ritual, which occurs once every five to seven years. In this case, the shrouded bones of the deceased are removed from its crypt and "refreshed" with a cleaning, perfuming, and a new shroud. (To learn more about end-of-life ceremonial traditions around the globe, you should read Kate May's 2013 TED blog post, "11 Fascinating Funeral Traditions from Around the Globe".)
In short, death-related traditions help us to say farewell, grieve our losses, and (in some cases) also shape the on-going relationships we have to our deceased loved ones. Here at McKeon Funeral Home, we're familiar with a wide variety of death-related ritual traditions, including those for Muslim, Hindu, Christian and Catholic ceremonies. And families with alternative spiritual or religious beliefs will appreciate the fact that we understand the often subtle forces which shape someone's preference for a certain death ritual tradition.
We are also firm believers in the words of British playwright W. Somerset Maugham, who argued “Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.” (Source) Funeral traditions, when strictly followed, can certainly bring a great deal of comfort to grieving family members and friends; however, choosing to forego existing ritual traditions, in favor of a more creative approach to saying their final goodbyes can also serve the emotional and spiritual needs of the survivors.
In all honesty, for many families today, ritual traditions are less important to them than their desire for a less structured and truly personal ceremony. When individuals and families turn to us to make arrangements for a loved one; and voice their attraction for a more personal end-of-life service, we tell them memorial services may be the better alternative than other death ritual traditions.
What are Your Preferences?
While most people don't talk about their preferences long before such a conversation is made necessary by the death of a loved one (or as part of making pre-need arrangements); it is always valuable to think about those traditions you consider to be essential–and to share your thoughts with those you love. In that way, you are all better prepared for the time when such preferences must be shared with the professionals who will assist your family in the final care of a deceased family member.
When it comes time for you to make end-of-life arrangements–either on behalf of someone you love, or as part of formal pre-arrangement–we urge you to turn to someone who understands the importance of ritual traditions; while remaining open to alternative, less structured, less traditional funeral services. McKeon Funeral Home, with over 100 years of professional service to families living in the Bronx, offers your family exactly what you're looking for: truly personal, exceedingly professional, end-of-life services. We invite you to contact us at (718) 655-6464 to explore the many ways we can support you in the selection of meaningful ritual traditions; which is an essential part of making end-of-life arrangements.