I asked ChatGPT why do we have funerals in both Japanese and English.
To begin with, what are funerals in first place and why do only humans have funerals?
Have you heard about other animals having such a ceremony?
Not that I know of but I do know that some (many) animals mourn when their offsprings die before their time to come.
The simple answer I received from ChatGPT is:
People have funerals for several reasons, but the primary purpose is to provide a way for friends and family to gather together to honor and pay their respects to the deceased. Funerals also offer an opportunity for the community to come together and provide support and comfort to those who are grieving.Funerals serve as a means of closure and can help the bereaved to come to terms with their loss. They provide a time and space for people to express their emotions, share memories, and say goodbye to the deceased.Funerals can also have religious or cultural significance, with specific rituals and practices being observed according to the beliefs and customs of the deceased and their community. In some cultures, funerals are seen as a way of helping the deceased transition to the afterlife, while in others, they are seen as a way of honoring and remembering the deceased and their life.Overall, funerals serve as an important way of acknowledging and honoring the life of the deceased, while also providing comfort and support to the bereaved.OpenAI ChatGPT
From this point, it becomes philosophical.
Basically, it’s a “symbolic meaning” for human race that to understand and accept mortality.
What is a symbolic meaning?
Human mind can only represent memories by images.
OK, I know that how can a blind person retain images which they have never seen.
I have a different answer and an expert that work on this subject but since it’s off the topic, I’ll let it through this time.
Human mind can retain memory through symbolism that icon incidents that happened.
Anything important in life ends up as a symbol (a meaning) like the drawers in the desk.
“Symbolic meaning” for funeral is something human possess as an understanding beyond the meaning of physical characteristics.
Funeral is part of life but rarely occurs.
It’s something that it cannot retain like eating lunch or dinner or even having a party.
BTW, parties also have a different symbolic meaning as well.
It’s the “Awareness” that creates these symbolic icons or basically a pull handle for the memory drawers that are very important in life, such as birth and death of beloved ones or even the hated ones.
Awareness of mortality is something that humans have due to “self-awareness”.
It’s the view which one has of the society, culture, and rituals.
Without this, human will probably not able to accept death and grief.
Collective Identity and Memory
You have to understand that humans are gregarious animals and cannot live alone.
We depend on everything on everyone, unless you totally go off-grid and live in the jungle by yourself.
Even that, if you use modern tools, who build them?
Human communities share grief.
It comes from passion, compassion, empathy, and sympathy.
Act of honoring the deceased help retain the memory and dignity and identity.
This comes from human understanding of the “context” of life and death.
The meaning behind life is not just being alive like livestock, where end up being eaten by human.
They too have emotions as well.
The reflection of life by having a funeral ritual, retains human identity and memory of the lost one.
We are “collective” creatures just like the “Borgs” in Star Trek.
Role of funerals in human society must be coping of death, honoring the deceased, accepting the loss through grief, both in physical and mental (philosophical) means.