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Help please - Been asked to do a reading at a funeral

(21 Posts)
NotSureIf Wed 14-Sep-11 22:17:34

I've been asked if I would like to do a reading at a funeral and I don't know if I can do it. I would love to be able to, but I have always been very shy and I am not good at speaking in front of a group of people.

I think I have only been asked because the family members who are arranging the funeral know how close I was to this relative. I suspect that they doubt I would want to do a reading but they want to offer me the opportunity, just in case I would like to. I think they have asked me with good intentions and am sure they aren't meaning to put me in an awkward position.

I know I should be able to put my nerves about this aside (if only that was so easy) and I should just get on with it and do it if I want to. I DO want to, I'm just not sure if I will be able to do it without choking up and crying.

Can anyone advise me how to deal with this? I suppose nobody who is sitting there at the funeral will mind one bit if I lose the plot and can't manage it, but it's kind of difficult to work out if I should say "yes I would like to do it" or "thanks for asking me, but I don't feel like I can." I don't want to create a drama by saying I would like to do a reading and then lose the plot.

I'm not sure what to do.

NotSureIf Wed 14-Sep-11 22:23:50

I should add...

One side of the family are very religious, the other side of the family are not. I am from the not religious side.

If I did a reading, they may be expecting me to read a religious passage from the bible. I would prefer to say a few words, non religious, just a poem or maybe just a mini speech of my own about my relative.

I shouldn't be getting stressed about this I know, but I am!

I should say "Yes, I would like to" and then just say whatever I want to say, shouldn't I?

Flum Wed 14-Sep-11 22:29:23

Well a bit of emotion at a funeral is good. However, if you really think you would cry too much or not be clear then you should not do the reading. Readings at funerals do matter, unlike weddings when they always seem like just fillers until it's Champagne o'clock

seeker Wed 14-Sep-11 22:34:49

Is there somebody who could step in if you can't carry on? At my mother's funeral recently, the funeral director had a copy of everybody's readings and was ready to step in if anyone wasn't able to carry on. It was suce a reassuring thing to know that she was there if necessary

Truffkin Wed 14-Sep-11 22:39:12

Seeker's point is a good one. I read a poem at my Nan's funeral but had my brother on standby in case I couldn't do it. It took me aaaages to get the courage to start when I got up there (well it felt that way but was probably a minute) and I did cry, but got through it and felt pleased that I had made my contribution. I think other people felt that way too and no one seemed to mind my being upset.

Do what feels right and hope it works out.

cat64 Wed 14-Sep-11 22:40:26

Message withdrawn

Imnotaslimjim Wed 14-Sep-11 22:47:49

I did a reading at my grandads funeral. Thought I wasn't going to be able to so got my sister to come up with me. I managed to read it, and I was the only one still dry-eyed! Sobbed when I sat down though

Please do whatever you feel comfortable doing. If you think they're offering in case you want to, but you don't then just say so, I'm sure they'll be fine about it

NQWWW Wed 14-Sep-11 22:55:33

I also think you shouldn't do it if you don't feel up to it - I'm sure no-one would want you to feel under pressure. When my DH's grandma died, he wrote something and I read it for him - I didn't know her that well and so found it much easier than he would have. Could you possibly do the same - write something and have someone else read it on your behalf?

NotSureIf Wed 14-Sep-11 23:00:07

Thank you for all the replies, much appreciated.

I'm going to try to say a few words. I'm not sure exactly what yet! Truffkin - your post about feeling pleased that you made your contribution made me want to try to do it too, thank you smile

I do want to. So I will. If I mess up, so what, everybody there will understand.

I feel a bit better about it now and I'm glad I posted.

Wigeon Wed 14-Sep-11 23:01:56

I am fine at speaking in public but wasn't sure I'd be able to do a reading at my cousin's funeral (she was only 29) because I didn't know if I'd just sob, not read. But my uncle (the cousin's father) really wanted me to it. I got through it by practising it out loud beforehand to DH again and again, and by getting DH to come up with me, and actually physically hold my hand while I did the reading. And I did it! I'm really pleased I did in the end - my initial reaction on being asked was "no way".

NormanTheForeman Wed 14-Sep-11 23:05:42

This is a lovely poem for a funeral, my sister read it at my Dad's funeral. It's not very, very religious, can be taken several ways as well.

Don't know if that's any help.

follyfoot Wed 14-Sep-11 23:12:49

Think its perfectly understandable to feel stressed about this. All I can say is that if you want to do it, then do say yes. As Truffkin says, the strength to get through it does seem to come from somewhere, and its a lovely peaceful feeling afterwards when you have done it. I did a few trial runs too and recorded myself saying my bit and then played it back just to reassure myself that it would sound OK (hate public speaking) and found that helpful.

All the very best, I'm sure you will do it beautifully.

NotSureIf Wed 14-Sep-11 23:23:19

Thank you so much everyone for the replies. I am sitting here crying and it has helped me a lot to read all these suggestions and ideas about how to deal with this. I really do appreciate every single reply. Thank you

shabbapinkfrog Wed 14-Sep-11 23:28:57

The Dash

I read this poem, for the first time, here on Mumsnet. I think the idea of having a 'back up' is a great idea. Someone who could maybe take over if you couldn't do it. I also think that, at a funeral, people would understand totally if you struggled. xxxx

solidgoldbrass Wed 14-Sep-11 23:33:57

Sorry for your loss. If you want to do it, then practising at home is a very good way to get yourself used to the piece you want to read, whether that's a poem or prose reading or something you have written yourself.

Truffkin Thu 15-Sep-11 23:36:20

Glad that you've made a decision NotSure and that I could offer some support. Wishing you all the very best.

LizaTarbucksNonSmokingAuntie Mon 19-Sep-11 09:21:39

Hello - just here in solidarity really, I'm reading at my Gran's funeral on Wednesday.

I'm reading 'let us praise an illustrious woman' but can't find it anywhere on the internet for you.

Good luck, DH is ready to step in for me if needed, but I'm pretty determined to do it, My Grandma was very devout, so is Mum and as my sister put, well Mum can't do it and you're the only other family who's not going to get struck down doing a religious reading...

KittyWalker Mon 19-Sep-11 09:32:07

I read at my Nan's funeral. Initially I asked DH to do it for me. He said no shock, he said he would be there if I needed him to step in but I would feel so proud of myself doing one last thing for her - and he was absolutely right! I did it, I didn't cry (until I sat down), and I'm so pleased I did.

The best tip he gave me was - to speak to the people in the back row and not the first row, everyone commented on how "together and confident" I came across - I certainly wasn't feeling that inside.

I'm so sorry you have lost someone close to you, I hope you can find something within you to do this, good luck. smile

SheepAreSuper Tue 20-Sep-11 10:10:46

I'm sorry for your loss NotSure

At my Nans funeral, I arranged to read the Christina Rossetti poem Uphilll with the vicar taking the service. It's about the spiritual journey to heaven and is in a question and answer form so I 'asked' the questions and the vicar 'answered' them. This meant that if I did struggle at anypoint, he could take over.

Like the other posters, I am so glad I did it. I didn't cry or stall despite expecting to.

Good luck.

NotSureIf Mon 03-Oct-11 23:29:28

Thanks again for all the replies on this thread.

This funeral hasn't happened yet. I know that might sound really strange, it is ages since I first posted about the funeral.

When it does happen, I am going to speak. I'm still not quite sure what I will say, but I am going to be able to stand up there and do it. Thanks for all the ideas and support.

Angelico Tue 11-Oct-11 21:21:20

Hi NotSureIf,

The funeral might be over by now but I wanted you to know I really empathise with you. A close relative died last week and I was asked to do a reading because we were very close. I almost refused the day before but instead found a reading I was comfortable with - nothing religious (not a believer) but a poem she loved. I saw her the night before and had a good cry which helped to get the tears out of my system so that on the morning I amazed myself by how calm I was. Everyone had thought I would be in pieces. I had arranged with the minister that if I was sobbing he would do the reading himself.

I agree that you will feel like you've done something special for your loved one.

Thinking about you xo

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