A look at fears surrounding funerals

23 June 2015

Many people find themselves fearful about the idea of attending a funeral, especially those who suffer with anxiety or phobias.

Bereavement support

If you are in a period of grief it can make everyday life difficult and the thought of facing the source of your grief head-on and receiving sympathy from friends and family can be too much to handle which can cause fears about the day to rise.

There are many reasons why people may feel afraid of attending a funeral:

  • You may feel anxious about being surrounded by sadness and mourning and by the idea that it may overwhelm you. 
  • You may have been requested to read a eulogy or help with the planning of the funeral and you may have anxieties over these tasks. 
  • You may fear meeting up with family and friends that you haven’t seen in years or aren’t on the best terms with. 
  • You may also fear that there will be an open casket at the funeral and that you will see the deceased.

Many of these fears are common but they are fears you can work around in order to attend the funeral.

If you find out that the funeral you are attending does have an open casket and you’re concerned or afraid of seeing the body, remember that you are not obliged to view the body. It is not considered rude to not view the body and people will respect your decision. Rather than approaching the casket, wait for family members to approach you at the event and share your condolences then. Also you’ll generally find that it isn’t as upsetting as you may assume, and it can in fact help to create some closure for you.

Reading a eulogy can play on fears you may already have about public speaking, but you can be assured that if you have something written down and you’ve prepared beforehand then there’s nothing to worry about. Plus, you can always take someone up to the front with you for support.

If you are concerned about how you will or will not react emotionally at the funeral then there are things you can do to combat the anxiety. Be aware that everyone attending the funeral is in the same boat as you, they’ll be carrying the same concerns.

No one will judge you whether you cry or not, everyone else will be too preoccupied with the day and their own grief.

Break the day down into steps in your mind and focus on each step, one at a time. This will help your mind stay clearer and not overload you with anxieties all at once.

If you are concerned about seeing friends and family you have not seen in a while, then all it takes is a friendly hello and a quick catch-up before you can move on and mingle with other guests. If there are family disputes which are causing concerns, remember that these are very unlikely to flare-up during the funeral. A funeral is a time that people put aside personal differences and remember the loved one.