The following is an online quote that I once read: “I’ve never understood the reasons behind the funeral procession. Anyone who’s spent any time driving has been caught by one. They’re hard to miss. A long line of cars with orange flags flying, their headlights on and their emergency flashers blinking. They run every light that gets in their way and hold up traffic and generally get in the way. And it’s time we outlawed them.” The author went on to complain that funeral processions are a “massive inconvenience,” a “silly practice,” and are “completely useless” now that everyone has “GPS and smartphones” to find their way to the cemetery. In my opinion, the author’s own choice of words, “I’ve never understood,” define the problem perfectly. This individual possesses a complete lack of understanding.
In today’s fast-paced society, the value of a funeral is sometimes overlooked. This is an unfortunate trend, because funerals facilitate the healing process for those that are grieving. Family and friends have an opportunity to gather together, view the deceased, share memories, and proceed together to the cemetery for burial. These are important elements that should not be overlooked. Funeral services are balm to the souls of the grieving and allow proper respect to be paid to the deceased. Eliminating portions of a funeral does a great disservice to the family, and we should not detract from what is meant to be a meaningful experience. In a rebuttal to the above-mentioned post, Alan D. Wolfelt shared a poignant quote from T.S. Eliot, “You can have an experience and miss the meaning.”
The purpose of a funeral procession (cortège) is to allow family and friends the opportunity to show respect to the deceased. The word cortège literally means “to pay honor.” In areas where local laws allow, a funeral procession gives community members the opportunity to show respect by taking a moment out of their busy day to slow down or pull over as someone’s loved one takes their final earthly journey. A well-lived life that has come to an end is a valuable thing and deserves our respect and reverence.
Here in southern Utah, we typically do not follow a formal procession to the cemetery. Local police officers do not have enough resources to shut down every intersection for every funeral. We do, however, try to keep everyone together and proceed orderly and slowly to the cemetery.
Please contact us with any questions you may have concerning funeral processions in our local area at (435) 986-9100. Serenity Funeral Home is located just off Riverside Drive at 1316 S. 400 E., Ste. A5, St. George, UT, (435) 986-2085, www.SerenityStG.com.
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Submitted by W. Russell Atkin, Funeral Director/Owner