How to Emotionally Prepare for a Funeral When Depressed
Emotionally preparing for a funeral when you have depression seems next to impossible. The days I spent preparing for my grandfather's funeral had me sick and my stomach filled with dread (Coping with Loss: Bereavement and Grief). My grandfather was my buddy, teaching me tons of things from how to drive to how to bake bread and his death hit me with a wave of memories and unprocessed emotions. Preparing to attend his funeral was daunting, especially with my depression at high intensity. I'll share a couple things I learned to better help you prepare for a funeral when depressed.
Three Ways to Emotionally Prepare for a Funeral When Depressed
1. Prepare for People Who Aren't Grieving Like You
Contrary to the belief that grief follows a formula, everyone responds to death differently. Something that can shock people at funerals is the fact that not everyone will be crying, depressed, or grieving. Some people get excited to share stories about the deceased with people who knew them or who were involved in the stories. Some people haven't been hit with grief yet, and won't begin to grieve for months, and they'll be confused at why they're not sad. Some people will not be able to speak through their tears. Everyone is different at a funeral.
I was anxious for the emotional weight of everyone else's grief and depression (The Anxious Empath: Anxiety And Other People’s Feelings). I absorb others' emotions like a sponge, so I knew that attending the funeral of a man loved deeply by all who knew him would be especially taxing. I had to prepare myself to not mimic the actions of those attending. My unsolicited advice is to recognize how you feel right before the funeral and to stick with that. Everyone acts differently at funerals, and you can too.
2. Prepare to Be Uncomfortable
This point is simple and important. Whether it's your first or your fifth, funerals will make you uncomfortable. They call attention to the finality of death and shine a cold, bright light on mortality. Prepare yourself for the discomfort by anticipating tension and focusing on what's happening in front of you, which will be readings, flower arrangements, and more people feeling uncomfortable. Because like I said, no one feels comfortable at a funeral.
3. Prepare to Distance Yourself from Drama
Funerals are the last place one wants drama, but it happens because families are imperfect groups of imperfect people. You need to be ready to take care of yourself first. If you sense that something is amiss, take a walk or put yourself by the kids. At least when you're by kids, you are reminded of the care and compassion that's truly needed at a funeral, not petty, family drama that can happen in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I find that people try to claim grief and memories of the deceased for themselves, playing the "I Knew Them Better Than You" game. I encourage you to avoid this game like kids avoid vegetables, with determination and distaste. Focus on why you're attending the funeral in the first place, which is probably because you want to show support. Don't let the heightened emotions of a funeral suck you into adult drama.
The reality of funerals is that they are usually sad, exhausting, and they last too long, so it is necessary to emotionally prepare for a funeral when you're depression. Solid preparation helps you best cope with the complexities of death and depression.
Verbeke, T. (2017, May 8). How to Emotionally Prepare for a Funeral When Depressed, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, March 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/copingwithdepression/2017/05/death-and-depression-how-to-prepare-for-funerals