My family recently held a funeral. It is the kind of funeral where dozens of cousins and others from all over the planet join together in one spot to remember our deceased relative.
From the carpooling, to the hosting duties, to having to meet and greet people you haven’t seen in a while, to viewing images and hearing stories of the deceased, it’s an intense hour or two for so many reasons.
When you are introverted and would rather be alone with your thoughts, you might feel the overwhelming, almost claustrophobic, social atmosphere in ways that others do not.
Here are a few tips for introverts that I have used recently and in the past at funerals:
- You might decide that the funeral is not for you, that it doesn’t help you grieve. You might decide not to go at all. Respect your own way of healing; do not be pressured into attending if you would rather not.
- Ahead of time, spend as much time to yourself as you require, or around the individuals that you enjoy most. Once you arrive at the funeral, you will be surrounded by two kinds of people: those you like and those who are helping you to practice patience. Fully charge yourself (like a battery) beforehand.
- Even with the best of intentions, you still might feel the need to step out of the room for a minute or step out of the room until it is time to leave the property. That is perfectly fine. Each person, introverted or not, has her or his own way to grieve and process a death. At a certain interval, I walked away from the crowd in the building to be alone at the cemetery for awhile; it was the only peaceful place.
- Journal during the funeral. Journal writing can be a solitary endeavor where you slow down, calm down, and organize your jumbled thoughts. I like to take notes on the different stories that people are telling about the deceased. Be aware, however, that other people might look over your shoulder to see what you are writing.
- If the funeral is a two-part event, wherein there is a memorial and then food is served, skip the meal, if you wish. It’s just more crowding and how-do-you-dos.
- If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed, if you are having sensory overload, concentrate on something. Ask yourself, what one thing do I see? What one thing do I smell? What one thing do I taste? What one sound do I hear? What one texture do I feel right now? These are also good journal prompts.
- If it is not too much for you, be a listening ear to someone else who wishes to get something off her chest. I find that commiserating with someone that I like, helping her with her problems, takes my mind off of my own tendency to bolt out of the crowd.
- After the funeral, do something enjoyable or relaxing. The weekend after the funeral, when I would usually concentrate on business or work, I did absolutely nothing that wasn’t enjoyable to me. I thought about my deceased relative, read a book that I like, wrote in my journal and just relaxed.
What are your tips for introverts at funerals?