"A funeral is the way we get through a death. It has not changed fundamentally since the species began doing it forty thousand years ago. The fashions have changed, but the fundamental obligation of the funeral is to bear witness to a death in the family and to initiate remembrance - that's pretty much the same."
Thomas Lynch, "Limning the Rites of Death" in The Life Of Meaning, eds. Bob Abernethy, William Bole, p. 9
"I keep telling them that for every dead guy, there are 150 or 200 people to whom that death matters."
"We have, in some ways, the women of the baby-boom generation to thank for the hospice movement. They refused to see their parents die surrounded by the machinery of intensive care and said that the would, as an alternative, bring their people home where they could really take care of them. Even though the medicine had to be downsized, humanity was upsized in that transaction, and I think all to the good."
Ibid., p. 10
"And funerals operate in the same way that poems do. They operate by metaphor and icon and liturgy and symbol."
Ibid., p. 11
Mr. Lynch offers his opinions of pre-sold funerals which tend to be negative. He argues that funerals are for the living not for the dead, and the living should not try to control the preferences of the survivors by pre-planning their own funerals. He tells the story of one man who left his son an extensive letter outlining his ideas of his funeral but then at the end of the letter the man has a disclaimer. Here is what Lynch says in part in the telling of this story.
"On and on he went in this letter. And at the bottom of the letter was a paragraph that I've always thought of as a kind of coupon. It was a disclaimer, and it said, 'I've felt, furthmore, that all this is done for the living. So do whatever you want. It won't bother me one bit.'"
Ibid., p. 13