Funerals - how to stop crying even when you aren’t close to someone

I go to funerals for practice. Death was swept under the carpet for me as a child by my parents. Me and my sister weren’t allowed to go to my grandpa’s funeral and our dog died shortly after - neither were talked about really. I was 10. I don’t know if this is the cause of my upset at funerals but I can’t stop crying - even for a next door neighbour or someone I knew of online but hadn’t met. It feels like the funeral place itself triggers the emotion and offering sympathy to relatives at the exit procession has me in floods.

So, I decided to go to funerals for practice. I have been to a few for people I barely knew. I’m not getting any better and I’m worried that when it’s someone that means a huge amount to me (e.g. dad), I’ll be a wreck. I know crying is normal but I fear that line up they do outside the funeral where everyone gives the family sympathy. Will I have to do that?

My dog died recently (I was devastated but she was old and we’d had an amazing life together). I can’t cope with the sympathy people want to give - yet I can talk about her and events with her quite happily to anyone.

Does anyone have any advice for funerals please apart from, it’s OK to cry? I know it’s OK but I don’t want to. I want to cry in my own space in my own time. A few tears is OK but I want to be able to have some level of control on my emotions. I’d rather let everyone go to the funeral and not be there at all - even for close family. I’d like people who want to meet, meet, and people who don’t, don’t. I don’t think this is acceptable though!

My elderly aunt is currently in ICU. I don’t feel emotional about her and didn’t have a close relationship but I think she is close to the end hence the thoughts about the next funeral!

Hints and tips happily received!

  • Given other people don’t know I’m practising and I am there because I know them somehow, I don’t think it’s unacceptable but I do agree it’s not helped - hence asking here. My emotions seem to be the same whether I know them vaguely or well so I feel a bit different to you. I think one of my difficulties is that I like to control things so yes, I do think that needs work. Based on Alexios’s suggestion, I’ve created a fiddle stress ball that ties around my wrist (so it doesn’t bounce away mid-hymn (although that might help distract me ;D)) so I’ll give that a try at my aunt’s who sadly died yesterday. I’m also reading up on small talk for funerals. This is helping Thanks for your help too.

  • I like that idea, thank you. I think I’d find it tough talking to them about what they want but I could start my own ideas.

  • I’m not really sure if it’s acceptable to go to peoples funeral’s to ‘practice’ - and I’m not convinced it will be helpful for you either. Ever funeral is different because it’s all dependent on your feelings for the person involved. I would just accept that you will ‘feel how you feel’ when the time comes and if you cry or don’t cry it’s ok. You can’t predict it. I cried at my mother-in-laws funeral but I didn’t cry at my own mother’s funeral - which wasn’t what I expected. You just have to let your emotions do what they do. We can’t control some things and it can be helpful to just accept that.

  • I can’t cope with the sympathy people want to give - yet I can talk about her and events with her quite happil

    I think you have the key there. You talk about your dog as if celebrating her life and the positivity of this stops you from descending into a soggy mess.

    It may also help to talk to your parents about what they want to be said at their funeral. Give them a chance to create the narrative and I suspect they will want it to be more of a party than a wake, so it is dissapointing that society spends so much time mourning and not enough celebrating those who die.

    Maybe start writing your own scrap book biographies of those you are closest to and this will give you more to call on when you need to remember them in a positive way rather than missing them. Get some videos, audio clips etc over time and you will have enough for an eulogy in the format they would want.

    What better way to have a funeral than by the hand of the person you are there for.

  • I can’t tell you how helpful that is to read, thank you. I’ve never tried having something to fiddle with - it’s definitely worth an go and the book idea would be right up my street. 

  • I've worried about this too. When I was young I went to my grandmas funeral and didn't cry at all I just felt numb. but then a few years later my ex-stepmums mother died I wasn't close with her but she did look after me now and then. I couldn't stop crying, it felt so unnatural and unreasonable because I wasn't close with them. It's so weird.

    A few years ago I had to go to my granddads funeral. I helped carry the coffin, and I couldn't see I was crying to much cause of the music. luckily my brother was on the other side so it made it a bit less taxing. Once the music was over I didn't cry to much. I cried a lot leading up to the funeral, I think that helped keep me a bit more in control.

    Maybe having something to fiddle with to keep you a little distracted from crying might help? see it as whatever it is if your emotions are sealed within it as you fidget with it. I do this a lot when I'm outside feeling overwhelmed and wanting to cry. Also going to the toilet for a couple minutes of quite to compose myself. Not sure if this will help.

    Sorry it's not really any tips. It's an unusual situation, but  you shouldn't feel like you should go to practice funerals to try prepare, as you will generally never know how you will act each time. Even with people you're close to, you might not cry or people you don't know you might cry more. Sometimes it just depends on the day and how the service is like.

    I also fear for when the few people I'm close with die. Like if my mum or partner die before me, I know I'll be a complete mess, I don't think id be able to speak. I think I would make sure someone else could either be there with me or in my stead to give people who are there giving their sympathy's. I would rather them be in a book to read over in my own time. I know I wouldn't be able to cope if it was just me. Personally, I don't see not doing that part of the funeral as a bad thing, as you can implement other things like a book. 

    I hope everything is okay, and remember to be kind to yourself. It's okay to feel the emotions, but don't feel guilty if you can't control them. 

    Sending love.