Funerals can be quite challenging to navigate. After all, everyone in attendance is there to pay their respects and say goodbye to a lost loved one. There’s also the matter of interacting with friends, family, and community members about your shared loss.
This can be especially difficult when in the throes of the emotionally complex experience that is grief. But knowing what to expect during a funeral can help simplify things and alleviate any pressure or apprehension you may feel. Read on to learn more about what you can expect from these difficult yet essential ceremonies.
Before the Service
What happens before a funeral service will depend on the duties you take on in planning it. Those farthest removed from the deceased may only anticipate getting an invitation to the service.
However, if you’re next of kin, you’ll likely oversee more significant tasks, such as:
- Selecting a funeral home
- Picking out music and scripture
- Choosing floral arrangements
- Sending out funeral invites
On the other hand, you may be in charge of more minor responsibilities like drafting an obituary, writing thank you notes, and making phone calls. Your before-service duties may include helping with housework like cooking or cleaning.
Doing these things will allow the next of kin to focus their energy on coordinating the more significant aspects of the service. In short, funerals require a lot of preliminary planning.
You can expect a lot of budgeting, purchasing, and arranging before the service takes place.
During the Funeral
Funeral services are an opportunity for everyone who cherishes the deceased to pay respects. Thus, if you are a member of the dearly departed’s close family and friends, you can expect many people to offer condolences and maybe even share a story or two about your loved one.
Remember, you’re not obligated to interact with attendees if you’re not comfortable doing so. But there will be people who want to address you and your family more directly.
Additionally, traditional funeral services tend to unfold according to the following structure:
- Opening music and remarks
- Prayer and ceremonial speeches
- Music and special readings
- Eulogy and closing words
Once the ceremony is over, it’ll be time for the committal service or spreading of ashes. This is often the most challenging part, as you’re parting with the deceased physically. Because of this, it’s perfectly natural to become emotional at this point. Don’t be afraid to grieve in whichever way is most comfortable for you.
What Comes After
Directly after a funeral, you can expect to have a reception with close family and friends. There might be light snacks and beverages or possibly a complete meal. Some people see funeral receptions as a chance to celebrate the deceased with music, food, and special readings.
It’s also an excellent time to read through the messages people might have left in your funeral registry and share them out loud. Once that activity ends, it’ll be time to say goodbye, offer last condolences, and go home for the night. After the dust settles, it’ll be time to start working toward healing so that you can move forward into a new chapter of life.