The Good Funeral: Toward An Understanding Of Funeral Participation And Satisfaction examined the question of what makes funerals meaningful for attendees. Previous research had shown that people can come away from funerals with very different impressions. Some attendees give positive appraisals, some negative. Studies have suggested that some people only get short-term benefits from the rituals, and some find little benefit because their grieving has barely begun. There may be problems, such as the interpersonal issues highlighted in the adverse events study. But many say the rituals were meaningful for them. Key variables identified in several studies—which also make intuitive sense—are the attendees’ roles and levels of involvement, with more involvement leading to higher satisfaction. This study analyzed the relationship between roles and degrees of involvement, as well as other aspects of the funeral, to see which were associated with meaningful experiences.1
Subjects: 1,210 adults who “had ever attended a funeral”; volunteers comprised of undergraduate students and their adult relatives, average age 30.41. Respondents from 23 states with 96% from California.
This study provided strong support for the idea that funerals are important because they allow people to express emotions and be supported by others at a difficult time.
Respondents had relatively high satisfaction with the funerals they’ve experienced.
The most important factor in whether a funeral was viewed as meaningful was whether the attendee participated by sharing and communicating emotions with other people.