One of the toughest things you will do in your lifetime is going to a funeral. This is a gathering for someone whose life is over, and it can be very difficult for family and friends to experience. You will feel a wide range of emotions, from the joy of this person’s life to the sadness of their departure. You may cry or feel numb, and there is no wrong way to react.
Your goal should be to get through the day, that’s it. While you may be scared of how it will go, there are ways to get ready for what is to come. Here is how to prepare for a funeral mentally.
Take care of your physical health.
Leading up to a funeral can produce physical symptoms like digestive issues, loss of appetite, fatigue and aches and pains. This is how your body goes through grief, but you can do things to minimize them.
Concentrate on your health during this time. Getting lots of sleep helps, and staying hydrated is important. Make sure you are still eating because it helps keep your emotions up when your body is processing and digesting good food. Stay active by walking and going to the gym, and then allow yourself to rest with a good book or hot bath. Use prayer and meditation to ground yourself and let out any emotions as they come up.
Be ready for emotion at the funeral.
When someone dies, everyone reacts. You will see people showing their emotions at a funeral, which may be difficult to witness. Know that this is normal. Some people will weep while others will stare off in silence. You may have been holding it together really well leading up to the day, but then all of a sudden, you are overwhelmed with grief.
Let it happen, and don’t be ashamed of your emotions. Expressing your feelings is healthy and will help you get through the day. Also, don’t judge others who don’t seem affected because they may carry their broken heart on the inside. Kids might be playing and laughing, and some people could be angry. People react to loss differently, and it is all ok.
Also, planning a funeral can be an emotional experience. Rely on funeral homes to take care of the proceedings on your behalf. They are experts in organizing funerals so that you have one less emotional burden during this important day.
Pick out what you are wearing for the funeral.
Usually, a funeral is a palette of black. If you have something in that colour, then pick it, but find something not too flashy. You don’t have to go shopping for a new outfit to try to fit in because the most important thing is being there.
It’s good to focus some of your energy on preparing your outfit. Have it hanging up ready to go, so you aren’t in a rush on the morning of the funeral. Don’t feel pressured to be perfectly groomed, either. The focus is on your deceased loved one, and if you are a little unkept, that’s perfectly normal.
Stay away from family drama at the funeral.
Bringing the family together seems to always start the conflict. While it is usually a Christmas dinner or wedding that it happens at, a funeral is an event where drama can come out. The conflict and arguing may start beforehand while planning a funeral and continue as long as the gathering continues.
Try to steer clear of it. Avoid the people that are instigators and step away from unpleasant conversations. If you need to, leave early after the service. Skip the gathering because that is where the bickering from strained relationships happens.
Be mindful at the funeral.
When going to a funeral, you can get trapped in negative emotions that shut you down. Being mindful means, you are not detaching from your physical self. Stay present and acknowledge your feelings and thoughts as you get through the day.
Try to focus on your surroundings by paying attention to the flowers and the music. Practice grounding techniques like feeling your feet on the floor or your body sitting in the chair. Count objects and people around you if you need to. Accept your feelings and share them with loved ones. Being in the present moment lets you experience what is happening without rehashing the past and worrying about the future.
Have a plan for after the funeral.
Planning your day will help you get through it easier. Write down what time you will get ready and when you are leaving. You don’t have to arrive too early and mingle with everyone. After the service, if you are going to the wake, have a timeline when you want to get back home or skip it altogether if you want.
Schedule some soothing time for yourself that night. It could be listening to music in the bathtub or watching a movie with your family. Make sure it is comforting so you can feel safe.
Above all, take care of yourself. Lean on family and friends if you need to, and remember to breathe. This is an important day, and you are strong enough to get through it.