Do you get closure when there is no funeral?


#1

I am so used to going to a wake service and a funeral after someone dies that I was taken aback when an in-law’s parent died, and they are doing absolutely nothing. The family is Catholic, has opted to have a cremation and later this spring when the ground thaws will bury the cremains in a marked grave. And that is it! Do you think their family who is used to marking a death with a memorial service and mass will be able to go through the grieving process normally without regrets?


#2

I could be mistaken but I thought Catholics were required to have a Mass for the deceased whether they’ve been cremated or not. Is there a particlar reason why they’ve chosen not to even have a Mass?


#3

They live in a rural community and a priest is not readily available for funeral masses


#4

I’m struggling with that now. My dad, who was born and raised Catholic but was not practicing, died in July. He was cremated and his ashes will be buried later this month. I don’t know if what I’m experiencing is normal or if it’s harder because there was no funeral. Our pastor is going to say Mass for him before we take his ashes to the cemetery, so perhaps that will help.

—KCT


#5

There are three parts of the funeral liturgy, and only one of them is necessary- the committal to the ground (or thereabouts). Everything else, including the Mass, is optional.

Here’s a great web site on the issue:

http://www.stjudefw.org/liturgy/funerals.html

That said- If you are trying to get closure, have memorial Mass said on your own.

My father-in-law absolutely refuses to have what he calls “the whole nine yards”; partially because one of his sisters had a “Catholic” funeral that looked as if Cecil B. DeMille directed it; partially to spare his wife, who is not Catholic; partially because he considers it a burdensome expense. So, his parish priest will bury him at the cemetery, and that will be that for his current town of residence.

That is not stopping my husband, his cousins, and any of my father-in-law’s sibs remaining when he goes from having a memorial Mass at the parish church where my father-in-law grew up, and a family luncheon after. It will take place a couple days after my father-in-law’s burial, preferably the Saturday after, so that everybody can attend. My husband is gladly sponsoring it, financially and planning it as well.


#6

Hi KCT, there is a good book called Father Loss by Neil Chethik

neilchethik.com/fatherloss/index.html

note: Neil is a unitarian universalist

from personal experience, I recommend you put together a scrapbook about your father to help with closure.


#7

The requirement seems a little … imponderable… in a sense…

If there is no body… person lost at sea or body is lost or destroyed, say… in a plane crash or building fire …

If there is a body, but no family or friends available or present… if the deceased outlived everyone… or if the family is simply so small that there is no one left…

If there is a body, but the cost of hiring pallbearers and the cost of the organist and others is more than the family can bear…

If there is no body, but family and friends gather to “celebrate the life of the deceased”… numerous eulogies… even though those present cannot know the true state of the soul of the deceased…

Some cemeteries have available the services of a priest or deacon who performs a graveside service blessing with holy water…

When all else fails, can a Mass Card substitute for a funeral Mass…


#8

My in-laws were immediately cremated and buried [with Church approval]. We later had memorial masses for each.

My wife and her sisters have since been a bit unhappy that they never saw their parents after they died. Their death was somehow not quite real to them as a result.


#9

[quote=rayne89]I could be mistaken but I thought Catholics were required to have a Mass for the deceased whether they’ve been cremated or not. Is there a particlar reason why they’ve chosen not to even have a Mass?
[/quote]

almost all funerals here are conducted by the deacons, so naturally there is no Mass. If the family requests a Mass, and if Father is available it can be done, but it is not common. The family usually arranges for a memorial Mass within the month and again on the anniversary of the death. the tradition of novenas, rosaries in the home for several days after the death, is also important here.


#10

Thanks for your replies. A deacon will be doing the committal, but I am concerned about the family…Have a blessed Christmas.


#11

[quote=stbruno]Thanks for your replies. A deacon will be doing the committal, but I am concerned about the family…Have a blessed Christmas.
[/quote]

if the family made this decision, then evidently they do not have an issue with closure. If you are a close member of the family it is unfortunate you were not consulted, since it might be an issue for you. Perhaps you could arrange for a memorial Mass for the deceased. After my mother’s death following a protracted, agonizing struggle with cancer, we honored her wishes for cremation, no wake, and a memorial Mass. We were all exhausted from the round the clock care in the last weeks of her life, and agreed we simply could not endure a wake service and visitation.


#12

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