A funeral can be a great help to people who are grieving. A funeral can also make matters worse. A funeral can be built around the strong Word of God, helping people face death, while serving as a catalyst whereby sorrow is resolved into hope. Or it can open all the wounds, cause people to cry even more, and stir up their sadness. The first kind of funeral works by cultivating faith. The second kind works by creating a catharsis, so that the grievers simply cannot cry anymore, are emotionally burned out, so that, out of that numbness, they can get on with their lives.
The funeral we just went to was mostly of the first type, for which I am grateful. It was led by an old-school elderly preacher who made good use of the Bible and proclaimed Christ. A few elements of the other kind were tacked on, such as some of the bereaved getting up to make statements about their loved one, but that didn’t get painfully tormenting as it usually does. And there were some neutral elements that I didn’t really approve of (a video slideshow of the deceased; recorded music). Still, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, and I came out strangely comforted.