A friend of mine once said that funerals are only for the living-the implication being that the status of the deceased is fixed. Either they are in heaven, hell, or their soul is sleeping. (This latter option being the theoretical response of a non-Christian.)
Now this, of course, is the position largely of Evangelicals and Protestants. A person has their time on earth to make their decisions and once dead, nothing can be done for them. Roman Catholics believe in the doctrine of Purgatory which says that believers must, and will desire to, endure a period of purification before entering heaven. Because this is the case, in a Roman Requiem, the focus of the mass to pray for the deceased instead of honoring the person's life and legacy. From a Catholic perspective, the verdict is in-at least officially. (Many Catholics would prefer a service at which endless eulogies can be made, much like other Christian churches.)
As an Anglican, what should the response to this be? For whom is the funeral? I want to make two observations. First, the Prayer for the Whole State of Christ's Church-that long prayer that opens the "communion" part of the service and finds its basis in the Didache's example of praying for the whole of Christ's body. In the prayer is written these words: "And we also bless thy Name for all thy servants departed this life in thy faith and fear; beseeching thee to grant them continual growth in thy love and service and to give us grace to follow their good example."
While the 39 Articles forbid the doctrine of Purgatory to be taught, at the least the 16th century Roman one, clearly the Liturgy upholds that their is still maturing to be done by the dead in Christ. With that in mind, it would seem that Anglicans should stand with traditional Catholicism and say that funerals are indeed for the dead.
Furthermore, I would make a point from experience. I recently made a somewhat sarcastic remark to my bishop (an Anglican) about some of the service music that was picked for a funeral we both attended. He mentioned that "it was what brought the "insert name" comfort in this life." (this is not a direct quotation, only the sense of what he said.) In addition, at that same funeral there were some upset that certain hymns were added to the service which were not requested by the deceased. If the funeral is for the living, why should either of these items matter?
My overall view, in line with the Liturgy and luminaries such as C.S. Lewis and Jeremy Taylor, is that the Funeral is an ideal time to pray for all of the dead in Christ, that they would come to full maturity in the Kingdom of God. But I would also say, that within reason, I see no reason that good words made not be said about the person who has died. The Lord shines in his saints. If that be the case, remembering their good example does not distract from Christ but points to him.