My father always said that he doesn’t want a funeral. At his advanced age, most of his friends are already gone anyways. Am I bound to follow his wishes?
Funerals are meant to serve the living by honoring the dead.
The situation you described is commonplace and can be difficult for many families to face. In our experience, aging parents are typically known to make these types of statements with the intention to do their part in alleviating any burden on their survivors. The reality, however, is that this sentiment puts families in the awkward position they are in some way betraying the memory of their recently departed parent by not doing anything, or by feeling sad for themselves. Sadness and the need of support is a natural emotional reaction.
Funerals help families rebuild lives after death
It is important to realize that the purpose of an end-of-life ceremony is to assist passage of the surviving family members and friends into a new life without the loved one. Psychologically, a ceremony is Step One in making a healthy transition as it draws family and community together to support each other.
Humanity naturally gather for support
The funeral, celebration of life, memorial, or send-off can take many shapes and forms from simple to elaborate. All these options do the same thing – help those who are left with their grief begin to heal. Even though your father’s friends may be mostly gone, the friends and family of the survivors – the sons and daughters, grandchildren, and their social networks, are indeed very much alive. They all need of the opportunity to say goodbye and offer support to each other. It’s what humanity does when faced with difficulty and uncharted territory.
The funeral is ABOUT your father, but it is FOR You
Your father likely means well, however he may have misunderstood the value of a funeral. I would encourage you to discuss his thoughts with him. Have an honest and open family conversation about the deeper meaning behind this statement.