Feelings at a funeral

Funerals are expected to be emotional. Watching or attending a funeral can bring up some difficult and sometimes surprising feelings, even if you didn't know the person well, or at all.

September 18, 2022

The funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, as well as being a historic occasion, was very emotional for many people. For her close friends and family, it of course had a very personal meaning, with the added complication of happening in front of millions of people. I’m sure many of us watching were thinking of them and the grief they are feeling.

But funerals and memorial ceremonies can trigger difficult feelings of grief for anyone who attends or watches, even if you didn’t know the person well, or at all.

Lots of people have been surprised by the depth of their feelings following the death of The Queen. There are lots of reasons you might have been affected including the connections and feelings about our own mothers and grandmothers. The funeral is likely to have been a strong reminder of these feelings and past griefs.

Feelings during the funeral

Watching a funeral can be a trigger whether or not you are already feeling sad for the person who died. The rituals and music can be a powerful key to unlock hidden emotions. Whether it’s this funeral or any other, it can be the time when the reality of someone’s death really sinks in.

Often funerals can bring up thoughts of other people who have died. It’s quite common to find that you are grieving someone you didn’t expect to. Sometimes people feel worried or even guilty that they are not focussing on the ‘right’ feelings or even the right person. But it’s very normal.

Some people can feel guilty for getting more visibly upset than those closest to the person who died. It can feel embarrassing and you might not understand why you feel so upset. Or you could be a close family member and find it annoying someone is crying loudly. Emotions can run high on the day but it’s important to remember they’re not always under someone’s control at such a heightened time.

Kindness to yourself and others is key

At the other extreme, when attending or watching a funeral you might find you are so focussed on getting through it that you feel numb or can’t cope with letting the emotions in.

It’s not the last chance to remember

If you find you didn’t get a chance to reflect on someone’s life or mourn them at their actual funeral – or perhaps you were overwhelmed, or couldn’t attend for some reason – there are still things you can do. Perhaps set aside some time to say a personal goodbye somewhere meaningful to you. Or look at our other suggestions for remembering someone.

Importance of funerals

Although they can feel like an ordeal, whether you are present or watching remotely, a funeral is a very important event. It’s a time for everyone to express their sadness together, and take time to reflect on someone’s life. It’s an opportunity for everyone to mourn what each has lost. It’s a time when we can consider what’s really important in a life.

It’s also a chance for people to come together and support each other. At the funeral and at any wake or gathering afterwards it’s a chance to share stories and keep a connection to the person who has died. As well as sadness there can be humour, gratitude, and of course, love.

We’re here for you

If you don’t have someone to share any difficult emotions with, at this time or any other, you can talk to us at Cruse. Whatever you’re feeling, we are here for you.

Find out all the ways we can help