An interview with Bob Eastgate, Funeral Director at Eastgate and Parkway Funeral and Cremation Service:

Why is funeral service important?

Effective funeral professionals, who I define as caregivers, help families heal.

How do you know?

Because they tell us.  I have a drawer full of thank you cards that are a testament to my belief that individuals and families begin to heal through our work. With our assistance, they can begin to re-engage in life without the person who has passed.

Why do we need funeral service professionals?

I would say that when someone you love or care about dies, your thinking gets fuzzy. A funeral director’s job requires him/her to think of things the average person never has to or wants to think about.

What constitutes a funeral?

To me, a funeral can happen in a number of ways. The ceremony itself is and can be, of course, a major aspect of a funeral. However, Ernie Pyle, a famous WWII war correspondent, wrote a beautiful story about the death of Capt. Henry T. Waskow and how his soldiers honored him in a simple goodbye on the foot of a hill in Italy. They weren’t in a church or funeral home, but they said goodbye to their friend and leader. That’s a funeral.

As a funeral staff, we have helped families create a variety of ways to have a funeral. I’ve seen tremendous benefit in video tributes of a person’s life. I’ve seen families openly grieve when touching an urn with their loved one’s remains. I believe a visitation or a gathering for friends and family is extremely important because it has practical as well as psychological benefits. And there always seems to be healing when breaking bread together.

Why have a funeral?

As I’ve said many times, we don’t have a funeral just because someone died, but because they LIVED. And their unique life is important to be recognized.