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Funerals, please can someone explain?

(14 Posts)
RooneyMara Tue 14-May-13 10:56:38

I hope this doesn't upset anyone or sound utterly ridiculous. I'm probably on the autistic spectrum somewhere which hopefully makes a difference when you read this. blush

I have huge difficulty with funerals, parties, processions, weddings... occasions of this sort make me really upset and nervous and I find it very hard to stay in the room, I get panicky and feel sick and want to leave. I think I have a kind of phobia as it's a very physical response.

I have never wanted to have a funeral myself and won't expect anyone to come and watch when I get buried. However most of society seems to have other expectations around this sort of thing and I am afraid of offending people, well, it's turn up and be terrified, or don't turn up and upset other people, possibly. Mainly I have been asked to stay behind and feed the pets when my family has gone to other occasions like this, which I did gladly but felt maybe I should have gone with them.

My granny is dying and I expect she will have a funeral. I don't know what to do. I genuinely don't understand what they are for, or what I'm expected to do...or how for instance my parents might feel if I didn't go.

I don't want to do the wrong thing but it all makes very little sense to me, so if anyone can try and explain what it's about, why it matters, that might help me to judge what the right thing is.

I will talk to my parents of course too but they will only want me to feel OK and don't generally put any pressure on - but if it would be better for THEM if I go, I want to do it iyswim. So I need a straight answer from people who aren't involved, because mum and dad won't say what they prefer.

Sorry if this sounds a bit crazy, I am at the least very introverted, and have always been odd about stuff like this, so please humour me. Thanks x

MERLYPUSS Tue 14-May-13 12:26:40

I have no experience of a funeral either. Cremation is different. Much less stressful I would imagine.
Ask you parents if they are ok if you dont go, they must know you have problems socialising and in a tense environment it could be worse for you. Perhaps volunteer to make the tea and sarnies for the wake. That way you cn escape into the kitchen when the hoards descend.

titchy Tue 14-May-13 12:42:59

So are you saying there are two issues - 1) you don't understand the role a funeral has or how to behave at one, and 2) they make you extremely anxious?

2) - your GP could help with perhaps. CBT long term or some short term medication.

As to 1), well bodies have to be disposed of in a particular way, normally by burying or cremating them. TRaditionally this was viewed as the final journey, to heaven, and the funeral was a way for loved ones to ensure they went on their way properly. Sociologically I think the role of the funeral is to help people grieve. It gives a focus and something positive about the death (positive being you celebrate thier life afterwards, and you've seen them on their 'final journey'). As to how to behave, you meet at the venue (or if you are very close family you get picked up by the undertaker), go in with the other mourners, sit and listen to a vicar and a relative drone on for a bit, sing a hymn or two (stand at this bit), then either watch the coffin get wheeled behind the curtain (cremation), or follow out to the graveside for a burial. Then back to the pub for a drink and sandwich.

Badvoc Tue 14-May-13 12:45:48

Generally speaking I think funerals are for those left behind to say goodbye and get some sort of closure.
Obv it matters not to the person that has died!
I think it is also a way if showing resort to someone who has died....that you are there for their final journey (whether that be burial or cremation)
I am a Christian so obv there is a faith element for me too.
Church services and burials tend to be quite like and involve readings ( usually from the bible) and hymns. The last church funeral I went to had 3 hymns although usually it is 2.
For a cremation it can be very brief...literally just a committal of the body (5 mins) which is a quick prayer and some music playing (sometimes favourite music of the person that has died)

Badvoc Tue 14-May-13 12:46:20


Badvoc Tue 14-May-13 12:46:55

Blimey...typos all over the place! Sorry op.

MorrisZapp Tue 14-May-13 12:49:18

My brother is just like you, but he does the expected stuff like turning up, wearing a suit etc. Then he quietly leaves the room before the service gets underway. He's usually ok with the chatting at the buffet afterwards, but sometimes takes long 'bathroom' breaks.
Nobody minds at all. We're all different.

SDTGisAnEvilWolefGenius Tue 14-May-13 12:50:46

Funerals are supposed to be for those who have been bereaved, so that they can grieve together, support eachother and celebrate the life of the person they have lost. It is obvious that you would not benefit at all from being at the funeral - quite the opposite, in fact - it would be a very difficult experience for you, and so I think it would be the right thing for you to stay away.

Yes, you wouldn't be at the funeral to offer your support to your family as they grieve, but the funeral is only a small part of the grieving process, and I am sure you will be there for them the rest of the time. If I were your grandmother, or a member of your family, I would understand your needs and would not expect you to attend, nor would I want you to feel bad about not going.

Perhaps you could go to somewhere special to you (or to you and your grandmother) and remember her by yourself, whilst the funeral is going on - that would mean you were part of the whole thing, in a way that would be easier for you. You could plant a flower, or read a poem, or just sit and look through photos, and remember happy times with your grandmother - that would come straight from your heart, and would be a perfect way for you to grieve, to remember her and to celebrate her life.

AMumInScotland Tue 14-May-13 12:59:38

The point of a funeral for most people is a chance to focus on the person they lost, and "wish them well" if you/they believed in an afterlife, or just generally remember them. It is also a chance to talk to other people about that person, though that tends to be more at the "party" afterwards than during the funeral.

If you don't feel that doing those things will help you with how you feel about losing someone, then that's fine. Everyone is different.

It sounds like your faily understand your social phobia and they won't feel uncomfortable about you not going along. They may well be happier to feel that you are ok and dealing with things in your own way back home, rather than worrying that you feel you "ought" to be different than you are.

If you were in my family, then I wouldn't be upset at you not going, because I would understand that you cared about your granny and would miss her, and that the funeral would be a struggle for you and not a chance to help you grieve.

fubbsy Tue 14-May-13 13:00:39

Funerals should primarily be for making the bereaved people feel better. It also gives friends and family a way to 'say good-bye' or 'pay their respects' to the deceased.

IMO it's also that a death is a shocking and difficult event. People don't always know what to do with themselves. Having a ritual to follow means that people don't have to make decisions about what to do at a time when (especially for the bereaved people) it's hard to make decisions.

Your parents might find it comforting if you went to the funeral. OTOH they might not find it comforting if they see you distressed.

Assuming you love your gran, you will be grieving yourself and in need of some comfort too.

Naoko Tue 14-May-13 13:15:24

They say that 'funerals are for the living', and I think that is very true. Especially if you are not religious (I don't know if you are, obviously, but I am not so it is true for me) so there is no aspect of religious ritual that is important to the deceased, people get together at funerals to share their grief, and to support those close to the person who has died.

I live in a different country from my family, and when my uncle died a few years ago, I dropped everything and flew home to attend the funeral. My aunt said that it meant a lot to her that I had come from far away to be with her and my cousins; she took comfort from the fact that people cared enough about her husband and those he left behind to make international travel arrangements at the drop of a hat. I also, age 13, attended the funeral of my best friend's father - both because I knew and liked him well, and because my best friend had lost her dad, and I wanted to be with her.

It sounds like your family is very understanding that attending a funeral would be difficult for you, and it doesn't sound like it'd be of any great benefit to you, because you wouldn't find the presence of other people who knew and loved your gran comforting? If that is the case, I think it would be ok to stay home. Your parents, in ideal circumstances, might find it comforting if you were with them, but they will also know how you feel about being there, and they won't want you to feel like that and it sounds like they would understand and be ok with you not coming.

everlong Tue 14-May-13 14:15:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

RooneyMara Tue 14-May-13 17:00:35

Hi everyone. I want to say a massive thankyou for taking the time to explain it to me. I think I understand a bit more now - it's a sort of public show of solidarity, of sympathy? and support and so on.

This is the thing, I desperately want to support my parents, and I hope I am doing - I've been talking/listening to mum every day on the phone, while she talks through all the decisions and so on, and I am quite close to her and dad so will continue to do what I can in this way.

I'm not even sure who else will be coming. I think there may be one or two relatives but not that many - most of her contemporaries are either very far away or dead.

The whole thing freaks me out, but I will be around in the background for my parents. And yes I think they will understand. I hope so anyway.

I'm not religious in the orthodox sense, though I have some faith...again ,the church thing scares me rigid so I kind of keep a quiet relationship with God/whatever is out there. I don't know what I believe about the afterlife. Mum is very Catholic so she definitely believes in that.
I think I will try and find some way to pitch in, with sorting out refreshments or whatever, you know, sidelines stuff.

Thankyou again. I don't feel quite so bad about it now.

Badvoc Tue 14-May-13 17:08:06

The sidelines stuff is important op.
Glad you feel better.

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