Now I’m understanding the mental need to say goodbye to a loved one when they die with a funeral or a wake or some event.

It is to set the reality as absolutely in one’s mind and beyond question. Without it one may still believe (no matter how impossible) that the loved one is still out there, somewhere. Before the wake it was easy for me to fool myself that Mum was simply sat at home still.

The mind it seems plays a horrible game on the relatives left behind, and it constantly denies the truth of the death by pretending that the loved one is still alive and just “not around to be seen at the moment”. Sadly I think some of my relatives are still doing this today.

I can imagine that without that formal goodbye ceremony one could get in a mess mentally believing that the loved one is actively avoiding them and doesn’t want to see them, perhaps because they have done something wrong. This must be a nasty thing to experience.

A ceremony then should serve as a reminder that “you” know that the person is gone because you remember that event occurring. It is a stake in the ground to which you can anchor all future thoughts about the death, and any intrusive ideas that it is not real can be extinguished, and you can remember that “It is real because you remember the wake happening”.

I hope over time that the questioning of reality fades and yet without forgetting the person in the process. I don’t know if this is possible as the two seem linked to me at the moment. Time will tell.

The other thing to remember is that the memories of that person are real, and cannot be invalidated by the loss of life. Never seeing someone again doesn’t mean that you must forget all they did for you while they were alive. That “love” shared with you is like a currency that you still hold, and perhaps you can spend it on your own offspring in the same way.

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