Funeral rituals are in place to help those who remain understand and accept that their loved one is gone.
What if there were different rituals for different departures?
It has been studied that it's easier to accept a loved-one's death in the case of a prolonged illness – the death is not sudden, but expected. There has been a chance to say goodbye.
With sudden deaths, peaceful or violent, the grieving process is very different. Those who remain struggle much more with the loss. There are things left unsaid. There was no chance to say goodbye.
In the case of Alzheimer's disease, biologically, the patient may take a long time to die, however, we have to accept the loss of their identity during this biological process. Again there is no chance for goodbye. This is particularly hard to accept and understand, as the biological individual is still around.
Could we help the carers for dementia patients by designing rituals of farewell for memories or skills lost?