Someone asked me to speak at a funeral, but I am worried I will break down. What should I do?

If we are totally honest with ourselves, tears at a funeral are pretty much inevitable.  It’s a time that we come together to say farewell to someone who has meant a great deal to us, someone who has fundamentally changed who we are just by being part of our lives.

Tears aren’t only completely normal, they are to be expected and we all know and understand that this is just part of the grief process.  Nevertheless, it can be difficult for us to be vulnerable at times and our programming has us believe that we shouldn’t cry in public. Add to that the common fear people share of public speaking and it is easy for us to become a nervous wreck before we have to speak at a funeral.

A funeral is one of those times where you have the freedom to express your grief in any and every way that you need to.  There are some key things to remember that might help you get through the words that you want to share.

  1. Breathe – I know it sounds like a pretty obvious idea, however when we are nervous or feeling anxious, it can be easy for us to lose our breath without even realising it.  Take a moment, breath deeply and purposefully, with each breath you take invite calmness into yourself and release those feeling of nervousness and anxiety with each exhale.  Breathing is a great way to calm down and be more relaxed and that will ultimately help you control your emotions and make it all the way through your speech.
  2. Remind Yourself Why You Are Speaking – More often than not, you will have been asked to speak at a funeral because you shared a special relationship with the person who has passed on.  This is such a special gift that you have been given and something that can be embraced and will help to create a wonderful celebration of your loved ones life.  Remind yourself that every single person you can see, is there for the same reason, they are feeling the same feelings that you are (sure we all feel things differently, but the inherent emotion is the same) and no one will think less of you for being a little emotional during your speech.  Feel that love from the group of people who are celebrating with you and let that help bring you strength.
  3. It’s OK to Cry – Regardless of the techniques and tools that you use to try and control your emotions, the main thing to remember is that it is completely ok to cry!   There is no shame in being emotional at a funeral, people won’t remember that you were upset, they will remember that you had the strength and courage to come forward and share beautiful memories of your loved ones life.

Most importantly, you only get one opportunity to speak at a funeral, it isn’t something that will come back again and give you another chance, so when someone asks you to speak at a funeral, think about how you will feel down the track if you say no.  Speaking at a funeral is a special gift that you give to everyone who shares in your loved ones life and even though it can be tough for some people to do, it is one of those things that you will never look back on and regret, quite the opposite in fact.  You’ll more often than not look back and be thankful that you decided to speak.  So breath, remember your loved one with love and share your memories openly and lovingly.  I promise, you will be ok and glad that you did.

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