As we all know, a funeral ceremony is usually a highly emotional and difficult occasion for all involved, not least the closest family and friends of the recently departed.
It is a time to reflect on a life that has passed, a time to grieve and a time to say our formal farewells with respect and affection.
So, it is no surprise that those closest to the deceased may wish to say a few words at the funeral, or give a reading of some kind, as a mark of respect.
But this can also be extremely difficult to do on the day and often more emotionally strenuous than the person wishing to speak may realise.
It can also prevent the person wishing to speak from being able to grieve naturally, as they are so focused on keeping their emotions in check to give the reading.
Of course, it is hugely respectful for anyone wishing to speak at a funeral to do so and a moment that they will look back on for many years to come with a sense of pride, and quite rightly so.
Whenever I’m asked by a family member or friend about speaking at a funeral, I always remind them that they are placing a great deal of pressure on themselves and that even though they may feel strong enough at that moment in time to tackle it, on the day of the funeral itself, emotions can be very different and much more painful.
But there is a way around this. I always tell the person wishing to speak that I will make sure they are able to make their contribution as early in the ceremony as possible, to save them that anxious waiting time. It then allows the person to take their seat again and absorb the rest of the ceremony and say their goodbyes in their own way.
I also reassure them that if they are unable to carry this out on the day, that I can read their contribution instead, which helps to relieve some of the worry and stress in the lead up to the funeral. A signal can be arranged whereby I look at the person in question and if they nod at me, I know that I can introduce them and if they shake their head, then I’ll carry on and read the contribution on their behalf, which again, alleviates some of the worry.
Rather than putting themselves under this amount of pressure, I also suggest that perhaps it would be better for them to say a few words at the funeral tea afterwards. This is a much more relaxed and informal environment, which can ease some of the anxiety.
Paying our respects to those we love can come in many forms, but what’s important is that we find a way that doesn’t cause us any more undue stress, as our departed loved ones wouldn’t wish this for us.