10 Ways to Cope with Missing a Funeral

image This entry is inspired by a good friend of mine who recently had to miss a funeral of someone she loved. Unfortunately, there are times when some of us will not make it to the funeral of a loved one. Circumstances such as money, distance, timing, and major events can interfere with the intention to attend.

Many people may think, "It doesn’t matter what’s going on, you should go no matter what." Kudos to those folks for making it work. For those who didn’t…

Ways to Cope with Missing a Funeral

1. Funerals are designed for the living. Just because you’re missing the funeral does not automatically mean you are disrespecting or dishonoring the dead. Before you use any other methods to cope with your situation, accept this notion.


2. Have your own private funeral. Just because their body will not be present doesn’t mean you can’t throw your own private funeral for them. If you’re worried about disrespecting them for not attending (see number one), just imagine how flattering it would be to receive multiple funerals when you’re gone. Select a time (or make a time) when you can be alone and uninterrupted. Re-enact the components of a funeral that you think are the most valuable. You can even re-enact the “burying” part by finding or creating a symbol of that person (a letter, story, picture, painting, etc) and burying/burning it. Include other aspects like prayer, and don’t forget the eulogy! You’re up and on the spot!

3. Dedicate. Select one activity you’d like to accomplish and dedicate to them. The activity could be anything, but to make it more special you could choose something they enjoyed (cooking, sports, writing, knitting, etc.). Commit to accomplishing that activity (well) and dedicate it to them. Not only is it a fun way to honor them, it will give you more motivation to succeed. As a bonus, when you’re done be sure to take a picture and frame it – a reminder for yourself to honor them through your life and actions.

4. Create. Creative expression is a cathartic activity to help relieve pain. Ideas: Write a poem, write a story, write a letter, draw a picture, make a painting, make a macaroni man, write a song, play a song, make a mixed CD. Whatever you do, express yourself. Your creative expression can be whatever you want it to be and it can mean whatever you want it to mean. Check out this site about creative grieving.

image 5. Photographs. If you don’t already have a picture of this person, find someone who does and ask for a copy. Ideally, you would be in the picture with the person but it isn’t necessary. Frame this photo and put it up. This person will always be a part of your life.

6. Pick up the phone. Call or talk to someone who doesn’t know the person who just died. Choose someone who will be a good listener, then let it all out. Why pick someone who doesn’t know the person? They will be able to provide you stable and positive support. Sometimes those experiencing their own grief aren’t always the best ones to lean on.

image 7. Pick up the phone. Call or talk to someone who knows the person who just died. Share memories, experiences, grief, and pain. Listen to that person and provide as much support as you can. By supporting someone else, you will feel stronger and more connected.

8. Write a letter. Not to the deceased, but to the living. Write a letter to the person who is closest to your loved one. Share your happy memories, how much you will miss the person, and how thankful and grateful you are that they were part of your life. This doesn’t only help you – it will help the one it’s hitting the hardest. Just imagine how wonderful it would be to receive such a letter.image

9. Pray. Or meditate, or do whatever you spiritually feel comfortable with doing. You can use prayer to talk to the person who is gone. Talk to them. Out loud. It’s ok. Be sure to pick a private time and place.

10. Be happy and celebrate. How many times have you heard someone say, “I don’t want people to be crying at my funeral – I want them to celebrate my life!” Maybe you haven’t heard that one, but I have. And how true is it? Yes you are sad. Yes you are grieving. But right now you have an opportunity to celebrate the life of someone you loved. Throw a party in their honor! Eat, drink, and be merry!

If you have any other helpful ideas for coping with grief when you miss a loved one’s funeral, please make a comment below. Thank You.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you Angela; I’m still getting over missing my sister-in-law’s funeral last week, due to a burocratic screw-up; my poor,widowed younger brother rang two nights later, up-in-arms as if he hadn’t suffered enough. As advised by the Samaritans, I’ve sent him a letter reinforcing my apology on the day, and to reassure him & his two daughters that I care like everybody who did attend. I know some London churches arrange special memorial services for “collective absentee mourners”, it’s just a matter of finding out where & they’re held. Once again, thank you Ms Wilson, for good advice in tearful times. Alex


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