A funeral is difficult at the best of times. It's never fun to lose someone and when the timing couldn't be worse, well that's heartbreaking. Luckily, many of us have friends to support us and make us feel loved and more optimistic. Of course, they don't expect anything in return - but the time will come when they need your support at a funeral and it's your duty to be there for them.
I've experienced many funerals of my own and then some funerals of friends. My best friend's grandad died recently and a friend’s grandmother a few years back. I didn't get to go to the funeral for my best friend as I didn't know her family much at all however my mum knew the grandmother of my friend and so we felt it only right we attend.
Different people deal with death in different ways. Some people need you there 24/7 and then some people want you to just leave them alone. Whatever they want from you is what you should give them. Even if you think it's the wrong thing to do, you should do it. You can't force someone to do something they don't want to do. You need to let them grieve and deal with this in their own way. If they want you to stay with them, stay with them. If they want space, give them space.
Giving someone space when you know they're hurting can be hard. You often want to be there for them and make them feel better but if they want to be alone, molly-coddling them will make it worse and they will withdraw and push you away. So you need to make sure to give them that space as I've said. However, that doesn't mean abandoning them. You can still support them from afar by maybe sending a text every now and then, just to let them know you're still there and you're thinking about them. Support comes in all forms, shapes and sizes.
Sometimes it helps if you tell them you know how they feel. That's what I did for my friends. I told them about how I felt when my grandparents died. Beware, that won't always help. My best friend was very thankful for me being there and appreciated me telling her about my experiences and it helped to make her feel less alone. However, my other friend sadly found it rather offensive and selfish of me, like I was turning the attention around so I was in the spotlight. It wasn't my intention at all but that's how it made her feel and that's okay and understandable and a totally valid way to feel. People need different things so make sure you ask if they'd like to know about your experiences, just to avoid offending them.
It's important to know what's appropriate in this situation and also when it's appropriate. I really badly misjudged a situation once and it was a bad decision which could be and was seen as offensive. Looking back, I absolutely understand why and I wish that I had thought about my environment and the situation before doing what I did. During one of the hymns, my voice went weird and broke and ended up really high and operatic and when I heard myself, I cracked out laughing. This wouldn't have been quite as bad if my mother hadn't have realised, which made her start laughing. We were still laughing when the song finished and the family were walking out of the church. My friend saw me laughing and it made her extremely upset and angry and made me very uncomfortable. She confronted me later in the day and I realised the impact of what had happened. It may not have seemed inappropriate at the time or meant with malice but it came across very badly. Humour can be useful when dealing with grief but perhaps the funeral isn't the time or the place for that humour.
It's important to remember when you're dealing with death that friends can and will help. They want to help. They don't need to, but they want to - because they love you and they care about you. Don't shut them out. The more friends you have around you, the better. One friend is good, two friends are great, but four friends are exceptional. Hence the punny title referencing the Richard Curtis film, ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral.’ No matter how many friends at with you, you need them and they want you to need them.
Death is difficult but you can deal with it.
Stay strong and fly high, angel.
Teenagers With Experience is an organisation created to provide teenagers worldwide with an online platform to share their own experiences to be able to help, inform and educate others on a variety of different topics. We aim to provide a safe space to all young people. You can contact us via email, social media or our contact form found on our home page.