Dealing with your emotions post-funeral
Planning a funeral can take up a lot of your attention, so the days after can give space for amplified emotions.
You may want to find ways to fill this space, such as journaling or taking up a hobby.
It is important to stay in touch with people for support.
Joining a grief support group may help you find comfort and community.
If you’ve recently experienced the emotional whirlwind of the death of a loved one, you’re all too familiar with all the responsibilities, the planning, and the bustle of being surrounded by people who are also grieving.
Now that the funeral is over, the initial to-do lists are winding down and people are starting to return to their own daily lives, and you are experiencing more space for (and fewer distractions from) your own emotions. This might feel like a blessing, a chance for you to rest and reflect. But it can also hit you like a ton of bricks.
If you’re experiencing the latter, know that you are not alone. It’s typical for funerals and important tasks to provide structure and comfort during an extremely difficult time. Then, when those wrap up, many of us feel quite lost with what to do with our grief.
You might be looking for ways to deal with your emotions, wondering how to make sense of them, or searching for community. You’re almost certainly going to be looking for a way to honor your loved one by processing your grief in a way that feels right to you.
Filling the space
Silence and downtime can be hard when we are riding the emotional roller coaster of grief. What might seem like a time to reflect, reset, and remember can also be a spiral of emotion.
If you start to feel overwhelmed, it helps to find ways to honor your emotions while channeling energy into those seemingly empty moments. Perhaps you can journal each morning, recording your feelings and your memories of your loved one. Or maybe you find being in the garden or taking walks soothing. Try to find ways to balance the act of acknowledging and processing what you’re going through with ways to brighten your day.
There may be moments when this is easier said than done, when you find it hard to stick to a routine, plan, or intention. That’s OK. Be gentle with yourself during this time, as you would if someone else around you was experiencing what you’re feeling.
Staying in touch
For many of us, funerals and memorials bring us together with friends and family we may have lost contact with in the daily chaos of our lives. We come together out of remembrance and grief in these moments, but we are also reminded how important these relationships are to us.
Continue to live a life that your loved one would be proud of and that you yourself are fulfilled by.
Use the rekindled connections to build deeper emotional ties with the people you care about by reaching out for support—whether to offer it, to ask for it, or both. You are all most likely still feeling waves of emotion and processing them at different rates. It’s important and special to be there for one another, as well as to learn from each other during this time.
Finding meaning in your own time
Our customs around the death of a loved one, like memorial services and funerals, exist to bring us together to process our collective grief. But many find it difficult to make meaning within these set-aside moments. Not everyone goes home from these ceremonies feeling like they have done all they could to say their goodbyes and honor the person who has passed away.
Continuing to struggle with your emotions after the public observances have quieted down is common, even if it might seem like others are easily getting back into their daily routines. Your loved one, and your memories with them, will continue to pop into your consciousness long past these allocated moments for grief.
Reflect on your relationship and what that person brought to your life, and allow yourself to continue to feel those emotions. You will find a version of peace—and there is no set timeline for that. While the funeral might be the time to honor someone publicly, your private meaning-making does not need a date, or a venue.
If you’re in grief and start to feel alone in your emotions, it might be helpful to seek out the company of others who are right there with you. Grief circles, or other similar group meetings, are a way for people to support each other through the emotional twists and turns by simply listening and being there for one another.
There’s something particularly helpful about meeting with a community, because everyone is at different points in their grief. You’ll encounter people who also recently put a loved one to rest, but you’ll also find people there who have been missing their person for years. Even if you don’t do much talking, being around people who have come together to be open and vulnerable is often good for us.
No matter if you choose to involve others in your process or prefer to develop ways to cope alone, remember that the long days do eventually fill and shorten. What feel like huge stretches of time now will once again fly by. To “move on” from grieving your loved one is never the goal, but you do want to continue to live a life that they would be proud of and that you yourself are fulfilled by.
In these days after the ceremonies are over, allow yourself time to reset, develop routines, and then grow. It might take time at first—more time than you might have expected. Just continue to remind yourself that it will come, and that your memories of the person’s life is what will stay with you, not these moments of grief ●
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