Emotional Displays at Funerals

Sep 8, 2010 | 0 comments

Yesterday’s Dear Abby column featured one letter about displays of emotions at funerals. The author (not clear whether it was a man or a woman) wrote that s/he doesn’t cry at funerals, being a Christian with a deep conviction that the deceased is in a better place.

This person had been criticized by a sister-in-law for not crying and was chided about it at his/her father-in-law’s funeral. The father-in-law had been sick and in constant pain for 15 years and died in his 70s. The author didn’t cry because the father-in-law had lived a long and happy life, and had been finally released from chronic pain.

The author asked how to answer these criticisms and said he/she was tired of being told how one “should” show emotion at a funeral.

The ending question: Is what I feel or show really anyone’s business but my own?

Dear Abby replied that it is no one’s business. She added that funerals can be such wrenching events that sometimes emotions become mixed up and mourners — rather than crying — have been known to break into giggles and laughter. Her final words of wisdom were, “Because few people who have suffered a significant loss are at their best while they are grieving, please try to forgive these presumptuous individuals for their comments.”

Everyone grieves differently. Some people cry, and don’t want to be seen doing so. Laughter is also an appropriate response as stories are told and the deceased is remembered fondly.

Some folks, like this writer, truly believe the deceased is in a better place, so tears are not needed. Religion is a great support for many when there’s a death in the family. It’s also possible in-law relations within this family have a different emotional resonance than with the blood relatives.

My opinion is the release of tears at a funeral is healthy and healing. But to insist that anyone express their emotions in any specific way is ludicrous.

A Good Goodbye