In our lives nobody can avoid being touched by grief, by the loss of a loved one. The Buddhist lesson is that there is no house that has not been touched. Grief is an experience that is unique for everyone, depending on the person who has passed away, the relationship to that person and their age at the time of passing. It will also be affected by the circumstances of the death. Along with these the personal response to death is dependant on the life experience of the grieving loved one. In our society we are not necessarily prepared for the experience of death or what it is like to lose someone. Religions have their beliefs of the significance of death and explanations for what happens after death but not everyone ascribes to these. You can pick up countless books on grieving or head to websites that will explain the ‘normal’ response and these can be very helpful. However, ultimately we are on our own in terms of our response and how we deal with it. This makes crucial the collective response to death and the way in which we celebrate the life of the loved one in the funeral service. It is a very important ritual that deserves time and care in its preparation so that you can be left feeling that the funeral was exactly what the loved one deserved and would have themselves felt proud to attend. It is an event that offers the opportunity for friends and family to share their grief and offer support to one another. Of course this mustn’t stop there, it is important for the sharing and celebration to continue so that the memory of the person being celebrated can live on in the lives of others.