30 years ago, both my parents were killed in a drowning accident. At 21, it fell to me as the new head of the family (my brothers were 19 and 15) to set my parent's funeral arrangements. My father was a man of radically simple ways and was deeply convicted about many things; my mother's simple wish was always to support him. I recalled after an Ash Wednesday mass years before, Dad had reflectively announced,"I want to be buried in a pine box! How can a person 'return to dust' if his family has wasted a small fortune to bury him in a crypt guaranteed air-tight for a 1000 years?" (As a youth he had worked at a nearby monastery, and his deep respect for the monk's poverty was undoubtedly operative.) I had learned my parents died leaving very little money for their three children to complete college (what I knew to be the fondest dream of my father). So whilst sitting in the inevitable plush chairs in the meeting room of the funeral home, gawking at extravagant casket options (some offering orthopedic mattresses if your beloved suffered from back problems!), dad's unorthodox wishes initially didn't seem a disrespectful way to honor him. When I related my father's desires to the assembled fifteen (yes 15!) relatives - my parents' three living parents, eight living siblings, and various in-laws - there was sharply expressed horror that I might "do that to them." Then it hit me, the entire funeral process is for the living, not the dead. The final patchwork of Mass element selections, casket choices, tombstone design, and visitiations that became my parents' send-off was revealed, not so much as a way to "treat" them, but as inadequate yet compellingly expressed symbols of each horrible loss (of a son/daughter, sibling, parent, aunt/uncle, etc). I had begun to recognize mourning as a selfish but necessary process. As people of faith we should unselfishly rejoice that our loved ones have achieved eternal happiness, and know that even those who die with total decimation of their earthly remains are as firmly safe in God's arms and just as ready to meet the Resurrection as those most royally laid to rest. But as humans, we selfishly but healthily must heal the hole that the end of a beloved's eartly life leaves in us. That process begins when we first and most overtly express the preciousness of our beloved dead and acknowledge the depth of their loss, and that is what (and all) our memorials truly accomplish.