There is no escaping the fact that the funeral will be hard, but finding ways to alleviate your nerves and process your thoughts and feelings can help you feel ready to face it. We want to share a few ways you can emotionally prepare yourself in the run up to a funeral.
Be kind to yourself
The lead up to a funeral is often a particularly stressful and upsetting part of the grieving process. The practical aspects of funeral preparation and the worry about how you’ll feel on the day can be overwhelming while you’re coping with grief. It’s completely natural to feel apprehensive about attending a funeral. If you had a close relationship with the person who has died, you might have intense waves of grief that can sometimes be quite overwhelming. Worrying about how you’ll manage your feelings and whether you’ll ‘hold it together’ on the day of the funeral can bring added pressure.
Be kind to yourself and don’t expect too much. It’s normal to cry and express sadness at a funeral, and no one will expect you to hold it all in. You might find it comforting to share your grief and memories of the person who has died with other mourners. In a recent survey, our community members said that hearing other people’s stories about the deceased was one of the things they like most about funerals. It’s also important to know that there is no ‘right way’ to grieve. You might feel numb at times, and that can be a normal part of the grieving process, too.
Accept offers to help
After a loss, the people around you will often pull together to support you in any way they can. This could be with practical help, such as taking responsibility for part of the funeral preparation, or by simply being there for you as a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. Accepting offers of help can give you the time and headspace to process your thoughts and focus on emotionally preparing for the funeral.
Along with offers of support from family and friends, you might find that some colleagues, neighbours and acquaintances also want to help with funeral preparations. Don’t worry about bothering someone or being a nuisance – people are offering help because they want to be there for you. Contributing to the funeral in some way may also help them in their grieving process. Often, people want to help but don’t know how. They may well be grateful to be given specific things to do. Read our advice for planning a funeral for some suggestions of which tasks you can delegate.
When you look back at this time, it can be comforting to remember the people around you who reached out and were there to support you when you needed them.
Don’t numb your feelings
Waves of grief can be uncomfortable and intense, but dealing with them as they come, rather than pushing them away, can help the grieving process in the long run. Burying your emotions can impact your mental and physical health over time.
Try to resist numbing your feelings with alcohol or drugs. Unhealthy or harmful coping mechanisms only mask your feelings and will very likely make you feel worse. If you’re struggling to process your feelings around your loss, you might want to consider bereavement counselling.
Consider joining a support group
If you think you may find comfort from meeting other people going through a similar experience to you, we host in-person and online grieving groups that bring together people who are coping with loss. These can be particularly helpful for people who have experienced an unexpected, complex, or traumatic bereavement, such as losing a child. Some grief groups are run by counsellors, therapists, or other professionals who can offer specialist bereavement support.
Take advice from the funeral director
You might feel that fear of the unknown is one of the most upsetting parts of preparing for a funeral. What will happen on the day? What if something goes wrong? What if I go to pieces?
This is where a good funeral director is invaluable. Most good funeral directors will walk you through the steps and timings of the day, so you know what to expect. They work hard behind the scenes to make sure the day runs smoothly, so you can focus on saying goodbye to your loved one. You can find a funeral director through our funeral booking service.
Preparation is key
When attending a funeral, the little things can become big things if you leave them until the last minute. It’s best to be organised and ready, so you don’t have any decisions to make or jobs to do on the day.
- Choose your outfit and make sure it’s ready to wear
- Plan what you’ll have for breakfast
- Delegate tasks to family and friends so you don’t have to remember anything on the day
- Double check with the funeral director that nothing is outstanding
Being organised can help to relieve nerves and will prevent any last-minute panic on the day. If you plan to read a eulogy or reading at the service, it can be a good idea to practice at home beforehand. You may become emotional when reading some parts, and it can be good to get some of this emotion out at home. You might still get upset when speaking on the day, and that’s ok; don’t put pressure on yourself to hold it all in.