Funerals, Feelings and Expectations

Funerals come in all shapes and sizes, in her latest Blog, Mo Szulejewska encourages us all to be prepared for our feelings ahead of a funeral.

September 15, 2022

I’ve been thinking a lot about funerals in the last few days since the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Funerals I’ve attended – those of family members, of friends and of acquaintances - as well as those of public figures that I’ve viewed on TV.   

And what strikes me is that funerals come in all shapes and sizes. Which seems fitting as people also come in all shapes and sizes.

Yet despite the differences, I also see one common feature. Each funeral surprised me in some way.

The surprise didn’t lie in the arrangements that were made, or the number of mourners who attended or the diverse gatherings that took place afterwards.

No, the surprise lay in how I felt. My own, personal emotional response. Before, during and after each funeral.

We are all unique beings. No two lives ever follow the exact same path. And every death is different. Put all these factors together and it becomes inevitable that no-one will ever respond to any two funerals in the same way. Which means we can never know in advance how we will feel.

I think it’s important to remember that. There is no right or wrong emotion to feel when someone dies.  And it’s the same with funerals. A funeral may come with its own rituals, etiquette and code of conduct, it may create expectations of how we think we will experience it but we need to gift ourselves the permission, the freedom to feel whatever it is we feel because there is no right or wrong emotion.

Our feelings arise out of a unique relationship with another, specific unique person. For better or worse. It’s both the blessing and curse of being human.

The funeral of Queen Elizabeth II will take place on Monday, 19th September 2022.  You might decide to watch it live via the media, you might decide to watch edited highlights on TV or you might decide not to watch any of it.  

I’d encourage you to learn from my reflection and be prepared.

Be prepared to be surprised by how emotional or unemotional you feel. Before, during and after the funeral. And whether you watch all, some or none of the funeral.

We have produced a short guide to help people understand a little bit more about social grief following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll.

Funerals, Feelings and Expectations

About the Author

Mo Szulejewska - Cruse Scotland Training Team Member

Mo Szulejewska is a qualified pluralistic counsellor who lives and works in her native Scotland. She has a lifelong fascination with words, language and communication as well as both personal and professional experience of the positive contribution writing can offer in supporting emotional wellbeing. A seasoned journal keeper, she also facilitates writing for wellbeing and journal writing groups. She has been involved in various ways with the work of Cruse Scotland since 2017.