Funeral etiquette: I'm not sad but I probably should be?
June 12, 2013 10:03 AM Subscribe
In a few days I will be attending my grandmother's funeral in the south. While I love her very much, we were never particularly close. Based on my past experiences with these situations, I know myself well enough to know that I most likely won't be crying or even really upset at this funeral. Please help me prepare so I don't seem callous or further upset my grieving family.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Basically I've always been pretty at peace with death itself. Its a part of life, not something that should be constantly feared or avoided in conversation. When someone in my life has passed (some naturally, some tragically), I very rarely react by crying or deep sadness. I typically spend several days thinking about that person a lot, maybe learning more about their lives and thinking thoughts of gratitude for the time I had with them. But for me, sadness doesn't really enter the equation.
I am far more affected by watching my friends and family grieve, seeing the pain they feel and sympathizing with them. But even then, I feel we are separated by not sharing the same level of pain over the loss of this person.
Because my family is southern, my supportive yet stoic attitude is not well received by a group that largely believes that women are or should be more the more emotional/more nurturing sex. I live on the east coast and have a high tech job while 95% of the people who will be at this funeral live near or below the poverty line in Appalachia. Despite my best attempts to not talk about myself too much and to show genuine interest in their lives and make myself helpful, I get the feeling that based on the aspects of my life I mentioned above, they already see me as hoity-toity in other non-funeral situations and now I am having anxiety that my inability to blend in at my family's highly emotional funerals will deepen this feeling.
(My grieving process has made me question if I am edging on the autism spectrum before, though I have never investigated it clinically because it really isn't an issue for me as much as dealing with how other people react to how I grieve)
1. Stand closely to distraught people (such as my father) in support, providing hugs and whatever else needed but possibly coming off as patronizing due to my own stoicism
2. Stand closes to distraught people in support, providing hugs and whatever else needed and also make an effort to appear upset as well - (but I'm worried that faking it will make it even less actually believable)
3. Make myself scarce during the more emotional parts of the memorial/funeral services and do something useful (manning the guestbook, assisting with flowers, etc)
4. Other ideas?
If you were the grieving, which would seem the most heartfelt? I genuinely care about my family, and want to make this as painless for them as possible. I'll do whatever I can to help; I just don't want them to think for an instant that I don't care about them or don't relate to them because I am not wailing.