I daresay that we as a North American culture have become confused. Many of us now believe that having fun, feeling joy (and surprise), and being entertained are what having an experience is all about. And regretfully, we’ve transferred this idea onto funerals. To borrow a phrase from the musical group R.E.M., we “shiny, happy people” have forgotten that the purpose of a funeral is to mourn, to actively and outwardly embrace the death of someone we love.
We have confused honouring and celebration of life with partying.
What reinforces this desire for fun, entertainment, and festivity is that mourning is painful, and not something people readily sign up to do. There’s a perception that it is easier and better to party than to express the emotions of sadness and hurt. As our society has become increasingly “mourning-avoidant,” we have seen this shift toward revelry.
Simply having a shindig plays well into the idea that people need to be strong and get over it quickly. There’s no time to grieve or mourn; rather, families hear such messages as “Carry on,” “Keep your chin up,” “They’re in a better place,” and “You just need to let go.” Parties often deny the authentic suffering of the soul, whereas authentic funerals invite an encounter with the mystery.
In their attempt to only have a good time, families miss the ancient and still essential purpose of funerals, which is to create an invitation to mourn openly and honestly. Historically, funerals honoured the need for downward movement—going through grief rather than around it. Authentic mourning demands that we slow down, befriend dark emotions, and seek and accept support.
While families may be tempted to make swift, clean breaks from their loss, it does not ultimately serve them. When people do not feel their feelings, they become unable to be changed by them. Instead of experiencing movement through their loss, they become stuck. They experience chronic grief that affects all other areas of their lives, sometimes resulting in depression, anxiety, disconnection from others, substance abuse, and fatigue. This “carried grief” results in a muting of one’s spirit, or “divine spark.”
Of course, this is not to say that a meaningful funeral should be totally devoid of merriment and laughter. As you know, funny anecdotes about the person who died and jokes delivered during the eulogy are often a welcome and necessary part of the experience. When a loved dies, we feel many feelings, including the bittersweet joy of reliving favorite memories. Sharing those memories is part of the journey, too—one that gives us moments of relief even as we dose ourselves with the necessary sadness.
What I am emphasizing here is the increasingly essential need to differentiate between funeral experiences that encourage the full range of emotions, from deep sadness to moments of levity, and experiences what families today are calling “parties.” Many of these so-called “parties” are intentionally designed to merely skim the surface of our sadness—or ignore it altogether—and instead to focus on the thinking of happy thoughts.
I feel the professional quality of services my family received was second to none.
Nathan, I can’t tell you how much your care and support has meant to my whole family. You obviously take great pride in the service you provide. I can’t think of anything you could have done to help us more. You, your mom and Terri-Ann make an excellent team. I had so many compliments on the set up and the service. I sing your praises to everyone who asks. Keep up the fantastic work.
Ruth Stephen and family
It was exceptional how Nathan opened our hearts and minds to give info; then transferred into so many ‘on target’ ways. Also very comforting and understanding to us all. Many comments, impressed, liked all that was done, respectful family-like atmosphere at all times. Especially kind to young members of family as well. Above and totally beyond expectation – Thanks.
What one thing could we have done better to improve your experience?
Nothing, we were very happy with services and support provided to our family. Well done. We really appreciated everything that was done for us and how well it was done.
Overall I am extremely pleased. Your kind, caring and professional services went above what I expected. All our needs were met satisfactorily and more.
Everything was done so professionally that I don’t think anything else could have been done.
You go above and beyond with your services and expertise and compassion.
You have succeeded in taking the sadness out of a funeral and made it into a celebration of life and remembrance, which we truly appreciated... Continue doing what you did for us. It was exceptional in every regard.
Our law office often has had many estates involving families who have obtained funeral services from Nathan. He is regarded by my staff and myself as outstanding for his professional, pleasant, and efficient manner. We would highly recommend Rhody Family Funeral Home to anyone.
Ross McLean, McLean Lawyers
Dear Nathan, I cannot say thank you enough for everything you and the rest of the Rhody Family Funeral Home team done for our family with Mom's passing. From the moment you got to Mom's house your professionalism was second to none. You listened and read between the lines yet missed nothing, every little touch was simply perfect, you left nothing undone, your care and compassion to ensure our family made Mom proud one more time, and for that I am forever grateful. You took a very difficult time for us and made it as simple and stress free for us as humanly possible. Nathan you should be very proud of yourself and the rest of your team. You have definitely set the bar very high for any other funeral home in the province to follow. Again thank you
Sincerely, Deb and Doug
Nathan: Thank you so very much for all that you have done for my Mom and my family. Your friendship during this difficult time was truly heartfelt. You made us feel welcome and like a part of your family. The whole time we spoke both at the nursing home and then at your place was a very peaceful experience. Not once were we made to feel like we did not belong there. Your attention to detail in everything that all of us said shows in the story of my Dad’s life and the video. Where there were concerns, you set them all at ease. I so appreciate all that you did for my Mom in helping her take care of cancellations and notifications for my Dad. It set her mind at ease knowing that you were taking care of all of this for her. It set me at ease knowing that she would not have to deal with the frustrations that sometimes come in taking care of these things. You and your family have gone above and beyond in all that you have done for us and I am truly thankful. The warmth and caring went home with us that day. We knew that the right choice had been made in allowing you to take care of my Dad. Again, thank you.
Your services are respectful, accomodating and very professional. An excellent job done. Thank you.
Our aunt & uncle were buried from a different funeral home and we noticed a huge difference in the funeral home services provided. Our mom and dad looked so natural (thank you!) while our aunt and uncle did not. Thank you Nathan, we can't begin to tell you how much we appreciate you and your staff this year!
Ann Legge, Patricia Tibbo & Jane Lembke
All the worlds a stage and all the men and women merely players." Rhody Family Funeral Home takes this and runs with it in an intricate and tasteful manner. The beautiful funeral home sets the stage to reflect the deceased's individual personality. Nathan's artistic ability is only surpassed by his compassion, sincerity and understanding. He goes above and beyond the required duties. His staff is second to none. Darlene Rhody soft spoken and sympathetic and Morris Emke gentlemanly and obliging. Pastor Terri-Ann is like no other with her comforting words of wisdom and encouragement and so compassionate. Her service was nothing short of beautiful. A very heartfelt thank you to Nathan and his staff for making an unpleasant experience bearable. And hats off to Rhody Family funeral home for sending dad -Ross Hammond off in the fashion he deserved. From my mom and my siblings our sincerest gratitude.
Personnel, facilities, advise & support all exceeded our expectations - it helped to communicate details by email. In particular, both Nathan and Terri-Ann did an excellent job! I was surpised at the after service documentation - all details well organized.
Nathan and staff were kind and helpful throughout the process. They really went above and beyond to make the experience as positive as possible.
Everything was great - many great comments made about the story alone on Pearl's life and we sent copies to people who could not attend - a very nice addition.
Family of Pearl Stephen
Our experience was amazing under the circumstances. Your services were perfect. You went above and beyond our expectations. You are very caring, compassionate and professional in your approach. You create a very therapeutic environment.
"Dear Nathan, your many caring and creative touches from the notice to the burial in the days following Catharine's (McKeeman) passing meant so much to all of us. You honoured her life in so many meaningful ways. Your compassion and celebration of her life will always be remembered by all those Catharine held dear."
Ian Campbell, Catharine's Brother
“Nathan, you did an absolutely amazing job. People give us compliments about everything from the life story to the beautiful, elaborate displays at the visitation. I tell everyone it was you. All the surprises - the cookies, the recipe cards, the signing picture - all amazing!”
Kim and Alan Grant
“Staff were professional and friendly.”
Lawrence and Heather Lamarche
“Nathan, you present yourself very well. Facilities were all that could be expected.”
“I would recommend your funeral home to everyone. Nathan’s ability to put you at ease, with a caring attitude is super and very respectful!”
“We were all very impressed.”
“Dear Nathan - You did a good job. Thank-you for all your help and all the information you obtained for me."
“Your sense of humour was a plus! You and your staff clearly have a calling for the work that you do. We all felt that we were in good hands throughout the entire process…. Nathan, thank you for everything. You made things easy for us, as we felt like we were working on Dad’s arrangements with family. We gave Dad a great send off and thank you and your staff for being a part of it.”
“Letters cancelling Gov’t services was a great help and was very much appreciated.”
William & Loraine Patterson
“You did everything really well. All needs were met and then some.… We received positive comments on the stationary. Great keep sakes. The book and slideshow were beautiful.”
“We had no concerns- worries, nothing, but confidence in the staff – we knew exactly how everything would happen and when - it was so nice not to have to concern ourselves with anything.”
"I don't think there is anything more you or your staff could do."
"No improvement needed. We were pleased with everything."
“I would not have changed anything. Thanks very much – Nathan and staff.”
“New renovations are very inviting and warm. All your new cards and books are very heart warming and keepsakes.”
"Staff were outstanding. Overall, it was great. Everything was perfect."
“Staff is exceptional!... All needs were met.”
“Service was beyond expectations… Already recommended to various people.”
“Could not have been more useful – very satisfied! I would highly recommend Rhody Family. Thank you ever so much for your professionalism and expertise.”
“Honestly, you and your staff made this time in my life the best it could be and were extremely helpful, respectful, professional and accommodating to my needs and my family’s needs, especially providing me with a space to feed [my child] if needed. Thank you for everything”
“Everything was perfect; it’s always nice to have lots of options.”
“Thank you for all your empathy, compassion and professionalism. Our family… is very grateful that we chose Rhody Family Funeral Home to look after our loved one.”
“Your services were excellent. Thank you again.”