Crying is an emotional reaction that isn’t always easy to control. Crying at a funeral is a normal part of the process, especially if you were close to the deceased. However, there are a lot of times when it might not feel right to cry at a funeral. Perhaps you need to stay strong to support a family member, or you might be speaking at a funeral and need to keep your cool.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- How to Speak at a Funeral Without Crying
- How to Stop Yourself from Crying During the Service or Visitation
- It’s Okay to Cry: How to Embrace Crying and Your Feelings
No matter the situation, sometimes you just don’t want to cry at a funeral. Luckily, it’s possible to try to keep control of your emotions.
If you want to avoid the dreaded waterworks during a funeral ceremony, keep reading. And if you'd like some additional guidance through the entire process of losing a loved one, check out our post-loss checklist.
How to Speak at a Funeral Without Crying
If you’re speaking at a funeral, you probably want to present the best version of yourself. It’s not always easy to talk in front of others— and even more challenging if you’re trying to keep your emotions in check.
Follow these steps below if you’re worried about crying during a funeral speech.
Practice makes perfect
The first step is to practice your speech. If you’re writing a eulogy or other memorial, practice saying it out loud to yourself or a trusted friend. The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll be with the speech.
It’s important to express your emotions while giving a speech. Yet, you don’t want these emotions to get in the way of your message. Practice really does make perfect in this situation. The more you say your speech, the less it will affect your emotions.
Control your breathing
It’s normal to feel stage fright before you speak at a funeral. Emotions are already high. You don’t want to let your breath to get out of control as well.
Focus on your breathing to get your movements back to a reasonable level. If you’re struggling to stay in control, count to 10. Give yourself time to relax your body before getting on stage to give your speech.
This trick will help if you notice tears forming when you get on stage. To hold back the flow of crying, look up above the crowd.
First, this distracts you from the crying faces of loved ones. Seeings these sad faces in the crowd might trigger your tears. However, looking up also prevents tears that already formed from running down your face.
Take your time
Finally, take your time. Your speech should come from the heart. Don’t feel pressured to rush through it, especially if you feel emotions welling up. Taking your time to read or recite your funeral speech slowly keeps your emotions in check.
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How to Stop Yourself from Crying During the Service or Visitation
Aside from giving a speech, sometimes you want to prevent yourself from crying during the funeral service. You might feel that being emotionally stable is something your friends and family can rely on. Here are tips to stop yourself from crying during the ceremony.
Again, control your breathing. Breathing exercises are something you can do throughout the service and visitation. Instead of letting your breathing patterns get out of control, count to yourself.
If counting to ten isn’t enough, count to 20, 50, or even 100. It’s okay to let yourself focus on your breaths during the service.
Another way to stop yourself from crying is to blink rapidly. This is a way to clear up any tears, but won’t just stop them from rolling down your face. You’ll also keep them from forming.
If you’re unable to blink rapidly, try blinking slowly. If you open your eyes wide, you can cut off the flow of tears before they start. While this might feel weird at first, it’s a great tip to keep on hand.
Pinch your nose
Your tears come from your tear ducts. Tears are stored near the corner of your eyes and the side of your nose. If you pinch the bridge of your nose, you can stop the production of tears. It’s best to do this when you feel the waterworks first coming, not after.
Think happy thoughts
It’s hard to think happy thoughts when you’re at a funeral, especially if you were close to the deceased. However, taking a few moments to focus on something pleasant is a welcome distraction.
Think of a happy day, person, or memory. Your goal here is to take yourself out of this sad moment. Giving yourself a short break is sometimes all you need to stop those tears in their tracks.
Have you ever felt that lump in your throat when you felt tears coming? This lump is a normal bodily reaction. It’s actually driven by the muscles at the back of your throat opening up to help you breathe—and a physical process that’s out of your control.
However, to soothe this feeling and distract yourself, sip water slowly. Taking sips gets rid of that dreaded lump in your throat feeling. It’s also a way to direct your bodily response away from crying.
If you’re at a funeral or wake, looking away from the casket or the speaker brings you back into the present. Focus on something mundane, like a wall or an ordinary object. This short reprieve might be all you need to help you calm down.
While it’s polite to focus on an item close to the speaker, you can also focus on something close by. Your handbag, jewelry, clothing, or even someone else nearby can all be good options to prevent crying.
Know what to expect
Finally, knowing what to expect a funeral can ease your feelings as well. If it’s your first funeral or you’re unfamiliar with specific traditions, then learn what to expect. Having an idea of what will be happening, whether there will be an open casket, and so on, is the best way to prepare yourself.
How do you know what to expect? Research funeral customs, cultural practices, and religious traditions. Aside from this, you can also ask the family hosting the funeral what the service will be like. There is usually a service program for the funeral process.
It’s Okay to Cry: How to Embrace Crying and Your Feelings
Finally, remind yourself that crying at a funeral is a natural part of the grieving process. You’re allowed to show your emotions, even if it feels awkward at first. In fact, some cultures include crying as part of the wake etiquette. Crying for the deceased is often thought of as a sign of respect to the person and the family. If you need help embracing your feelings, try these steps.
Bring tissues or a handkerchief
Crying isn’t always pretty. It’s entirely okay, and you shouldn’t feel worried about what you look like when you’re feeling a strong emotion. However, bringing tissues or a handkerchief helps you feel more in control of your appearance when you’re struggling with tears.
Find your support
You don’t need to suffer in silence. Funerals are a chance to lean on each other and come closer together. If you’re struggling to feel okay crying at a funeral, surround yourself with those you trust. A healthy support group makes these emotions easier to process.
Remind yourself of the grieving process
Finally, remember that crying is a natural part of the grieving process. When we cry, we express how we feel physically. Yes, it can feel uncomfortable at times, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Every person expresses grief differently. Even if you don’t see others crying at a funeral, that doesn’t mean they aren’t also grieving. The most significant part of the grieving process is time. If you need to let a few (or several) tears out during the funeral, don’t feel down on yourself.
In fact, crying can be useful. According to psychology, it can both lower your stress and elevate your mood. The act of crying itself lowers your manganese levels, actually helping you feel better. So, if you let yourself express your feelings freely can be a way to overcome sadness and grief. This is nothing to be ashamed of.
Prepare for Your Next Funeral
Funerals are emotional affairs. Whether you’ll be attending a funeral or speaking at one, it’s common to wish for more control over your emotions. We all know the stereotype of the overly emotional family member bawling during a funeral. In reality, crying during a funeral is a reasonable way to grieve a loved one.
However, if you’re trying to keep yourself from crying, you do have steps you can take. From sipping water to control your breathing, these small actions prevent tears from flowing freely. If you do prevent those waterworks, make sure you have a way to express any sadness or grief that might be a result of the passing of a loved one.
These feelings shouldn’t be bottled up inside. Finding a healthy way to express your emotions, whether you do so publicly or privately, is a big part of attending a funeral.
- Borchard, Therese J. “7 Good Reasons to Cry Your Eyes Out.” Psych Central, 8 July 2018. Psychcentral.com.