My funeral experience

Mostly I write blogs in the hope that they are slightly helpful to someone but today there is no particular point or call to action. I just felt like writing and then thought I may as well share. The subject is funerals, as I went to one on Monday – that of my big-hearted, funny Uncle Paul. 

As funerals go it was a lovely one, with the intention of being a celebration of his life. There were 5 different eulogies from close family members which were touching, amusing in places, and gave a sweet insight into Uncle Paul & his life. But I still blubbed through the whole thing. 

I would like to ‘get better’ at funerals, not least because they are likely to increase in number now that I’m probably ‘middle-aged’ (what is the definition? I suspect I am anyway!). I’m sure most people don’t really enjoy going to funerals but I basically dread it. From the minute I arrive I feel like crying and try not to, as it generally isn’t that helpful to the most nearest and dearest who are invariably trying to hold it together to get through the ceremony. 

I seem to turn into this big sadness sponge and absorb everyone else’s sadness. The whole black clothing, hushed voices beforehand, seeing the coffin, people trying so hard to be brave, the finality of it all etc to me seems to exacerbate the sadness. Even when funerals try to be a celebration of the person’s life, it’s still a traditional set up that encourages sadness. I think I’d like my own funeral to involve a lot of bright colours, jolly tunes, a good party & plenty of laughter! 

I suspect I could go to the funeral of a complete stranger, and be surrounded by people I don’t know at all, and still blub my way through the whole thing. Trying to hold the sadness in a bit makes it harder too. Perhaps I’d be better off with the funeral traditions where everyone is openly and loudly wailing? So why do I try and hold it in? Well I suppose because everyone else seems to be trying to be brave and not start loudly sobbing. And there’s a thing about respect and wanting to be helpful to those most affected, as they in turn are trying not to dissolve. On Monday I tried various techniques – grounding, deep breaths, energy work etc but to no avail, it was the usual soggy tissue situation. 

And yet weirdly I am able to be with individual or couples clients when they are sad without it having the same impact. I just hold the space for them and let their emotions come out, knowing that those emotions need to be expressed and processed. I can feel the sadness but not get overwhelmed by it. Although I do have a tendency to well up sometimes when coaching, normally that’s more if they are telling me good news or something that they are really proud of. But sad news when coaching I’m generally ok with. 

Take that coach’s hat off though and I’m a hopeless mess. I pretty much always cry when someone cries. Just the sight of tears brings them out of me, or just someone telling me a moving or sad story. And it can be on TV too – most weeks I cry at X factor. I often cry at movies – I even cried A LOT when Tinkerbell’s wings got broken, despite knowing it would all be ok in the end! 

And it’s interesting watching moving films with my two children. My daughter (age 10) is like me and has a good blub, but my son (age 12) has never cried at a movie. I’ve been quite curious about his experience, and asked him about it, but he just doesn’t feel the emotional pull of it like we do. I have consciously tried to avoid any messages of ‘big boys don’t cry’ throughout his life so I don’t think it’s social conditioning, he’s just built differently. Similarly some people never cry at funerals. I guess we’re all just unique in our responses to situations.

Anyway that’s the musings of the day from Sue, the Funeral Sadness Sponge, and I’d love to hear your experiences if you’d care to share them in the comments.