Nobody enjoys going to funerals at funeral homes, but some people are much more anxious about attending funerals than other people are. There are some extreme manifestations of this kind of funeral anxiety.
There are people who may appear briefly to speak to family member they know and leave within a few minutes. There are people who may drive to the funeral home, but they aren’t able to go inside once they get there. And, then, there are people who know they should be at a funeral, but they just can’t get past their anxiety to actually even get in their vehicles to go to the funeral home.
However, most people who are anxious about attending funerals do actually go to the funeral home, go inside to the funeral, and stay. However, that doesn’t alleviate the stress they experience.
Anxiety about going to funerals, in general, is based on fears of being emotionally vulnerable, discomfort with other people who may be attending, discomfort with being face-to-face with death, or saying or doing the wrong thing.
Funerals are emotional experiences. Whether you know the person who died or not, being at a funeral can trigger emotions about people you love who have died. This can cause grief and tears because you’re reminded of your own losses.
People from far and wide may travel to be at funerals, especially for loved ones with large families or who are well known in the company. You may have had tense or unpleasant experiences in the past with some of the people who will be attending the funeral and you may feel anxious about your interactions with them now.
Funerals put you up close and personal with death. The reality of seeing someone who has died lying in repose in a casket can cause anxiety, as can many of the symbols of death, including the funeral flowers, and the very sobering atmosphere.
If you’re asked to participate in a funeral, you may be anxious about what you’re going to say, speaking in front of a group of people, or trying to maintain your composure during your participation.
Additionally, you may be concerned that you will say or do the wrong thing when you speak with the grieving family and you will make their pain and grief worse.
You can help ease your anxiety about funerals by using a few coping strategies.
The first coping strategy for addressing your anxiety about attending a funeral is to acknowledge what you are feeling. Find a close friend or family member that you can depend on for support and let them know how you are feeling about attending the funeral.
They will be able to help you sort through what you are feeling and why you’re feeling it. They will also be able to help you find ways to calm some of the anxiety you’re experiencing and to alleviate some of the stress associated with that anxiety.
Another coping strategy to help ease your anxiety about attending a funeral is to ask someone you trust to go the funeral with you. Even if they don’t know the person who has died, their presence lets you know that you’re not alone, which can, in turn, have a calming effect on you.
A third coping strategy for dealing with the anxiety that you are experiencing about going to a funeral is to be gentle with yourself as you deal with the strong emotions that funerals evoke. Remember that it’s healthy and normal to have strong emotions about death, and it’s okay to some time to sort through and experience these feelings.