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How Do You Maintain Composure at a Funeral?

Maintaining composure during the funeral of a loved one can be difficult. The experience can be harrowing, especially when the deceased had suffered a complicated or even violent death. It's not uncommon for people to break down and cry during the ceremony. 

Visiting a funeral home to attend a service or a visitation can be emotionally challenging in general. Still, the process often becomes more difficult if you're concerned that you'll be overly emotional. 

While emotions are commonplace at funeral homes, you mustn't lose your composure to the point that it disrupts other people attending the event or the family mourning the loss of a loved one.

If you're intent on avoiding breaking down and crying, there are several tips you can use to help keep your composure under control. Here are three ideas that you can try.

How can you stay calm for the funeral of someone whom you have loved dearly and whose loss is overwhelming you? 

When we lose someone dear to us, a family member or a dearly loved friend, strong emotions arise in us. It's easy to feel completely overwhelmed by grief. Here at Peter Tziotzis Orthodox Funerals, we provide religious and traditional funeral services.

There are, however, steps that you can take to prepare yourself emotionally ahead of time so that it may be easier to remain calm and composed at the funeral. 

Different Experiences of Grief

how do you maintain composure at a funeral

Grief affects us all in different ways. Some people feel like crying all the time. Other people go 'blank' and may even seem quite emotionless to others. 

Others may suddenly be full of nervous energy and rush around doing things or find themselves nervously giggling and laughing. 

These are all standard ways of experiencing grief.

The Dilemmas Posed by Funerals

When it comes to funerals, people often feel caught in a dilemma. On the one hand, a funeral is (usually) a public occasion. 

So it feels like you are somehow 'on show' - and so expected to abide by the social conventions for acceptable public behaviour. 

To most people, this means that you must maintain an appearance of calm, no matter what you are feeling. You must look as if you are 'in control'.

On the other hand, the funeral of a loved one is an intensely personal matter, where you want to show how you feel about the person who has left this life.

But showing how you feel might risk letting those raw emotions come through. What if you 'break down'? 

It's hard enough to have to deal with grief, but how sad that social convention can add an extra burden on the day of the funeral.

How Real Grief Can Be Expressed With Composure and Calm

Fortunately, it doesn't have to be as black-and-white as this. Ultimately, it's not a question of either/or showing no emotion or letting emotions rule. 

With preparation, it is eminently possible to maintain a suitable composure and express genuine emotions of loss and grief. 

This means that true honour can be shown to the one who has passed.

Find a Support Partner

Talk within your circle of friends or family members to find someone who will also visit the funeral home and serve as your support partner throughout the proceedings. 

This is especially important if you'll be attending the event alone instead of with a spouse or partner who would otherwise provide support. 

Make a point of standing with this support partner as much as possible and even using some supportive physical touch with each other—a gentle squeeze on the arm or a firm hug can help you feel better and prevent you from breaking down when you start to feel overly emotional.

Breathe When You Speak

Remembering to breathe is a simple way to help stay composed. When you're emotional or stressed, it can be easy to take short, shallow breaths. 

The problem with doing so is that this breathing style can make you feel out of breath, which only makes you feel more stressed. 

It's a vicious cycle that often results in you losing your composure. 

Make a point of breathing deeply through your visit to the funeral home and always taking proper breaths when you're speaking. 

Doing so will avoid you talking in a nervous, hurried way that causes stress.

Keep a Bottle of Water Handy

Sipping water can help you beat a case of nerves. 

Whenever you start to feel that you're losing your composure, concentrate on drinking a bit of water and feeling the refreshment it provides. 

This will momentarily take you out of the emotionally taxing environment, ideally long enough to help you regain your composure. 

Focus on taking small sips—the last thing you want to do is drink too much during a lengthy funeral service and have to get up to use the restroom.

Funeral homes will endeavour to provide a safe and calming environment for services, but with a little

Talk to Someone Before the Funeral

Talk to someone before the funeral. Find a person in whom you can confide. A confidant, counsellor or religious leader should help you deal with your emotions and gain perspective.

Talk to other people who were close to the deceased. Reminisce and share funny stories to help each other laugh. This will help you focus on remembering only positive thoughts at the ceremony.

Accept Your Emotions

Accept your emotions. Realize that you are in mourning and that you must go through all the stages of grief. 

Mourning is a natural part of dealing with loss. Trying to resist it may only make you feel more vulnerable.

Cry as Much as You Need

Cry as much as you need. If you allow your emotions to let go beforehand wholly, you may feel some relief from the grief, which will help you stay calm.


Stay near a close friend or relative during the funeral. This person can provide you with emotional support and comfort.

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. Visit Peter Tziotzis Orthodox Funerals to know more about our prepaid funeral service and find the best funeral option for your unique situation.

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 aloud 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 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 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. 

Look Up

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. Seeing these sad faces in the crowd might trigger your tears. 

However, looking up also prevents tears that have 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. 

Share Your Final Wishes, Just in Case.

Create a free Cake end-of-life planning profile and instantly share your health, legal, funeral, and legacy decisions with a loved one.

How to Stop Yourself from Crying During the Service or Visitation

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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.

Breathe Evenly

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. 

Blink Rapidly

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. 

Sip Water

Have you ever felt that lump in your throat when you felt tears coming? 

This lump is a normal bodily reaction. The muscles drive it 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. It's also a way to direct your bodily response away from crying. 

Gaze Away

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, jewellery, clothing, or even someone else nearby can all be good options to prevent crying. 

Know What to Expect

Finally, knowing what to expect at 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. Some cultures include crying as part of 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. 

Crying can be helpful. 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, it 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 controlling 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 result from the passing of a loved one. 

These feelings shouldn't be bottled up inside. Are finding a healthy way to express your emotions, whether publicly or privately, is a big part of attending a funeral.

Sometimes You'll Cry Anyway.

You don't always get to control when you cry — and that's okay. 

Crying is a healthy expression of grief, and there's no better time to share deep emotions than at a funeral. The people there will relate to, and maybe even gain comfort, from your vulnerability.

Consuming water to avoid crying can also help you stay hydrated if you end up giving in and letting your tears out. 

If you experience a headache after crying, make sure you consume some fluids, and get some rest. 

You'll feel better after releasing your pent-up feelings and experiencing the benefits of stress-reducing hormones.

As you move through your grief journey, you'll cry less and less intensely. Let yourself feel during this time, and you will be on the path to better healing.

Remember that it is okay to lose composure at times. It is better to shed a tear or two than to hold it all back painfully. Peter Tziotzis Orthodox Funerals will always find creative ways to pull costs in line with your budget.

Other attendees will understand if you are unable to stay composed during the entire funeral.

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