The Front Row at a Funeral


Is this really happening?  Did we just schedule a date for their funeral?  It all seems surreal, but no amount of protest can change the fact that it has been scheduled.   

I am not a front row person, in general.  I prefer to sit in the back of rooms to view everything and everyone in front of me.  Having people behind me is not just distracting, it’s uncomfortable.

At a funeral though – if you are a part of that front row, it is the worst seating in the house.  It means, you are the one holding the most pain; you are the person people want to look at but then look away from when you make eye contact with them.  Your reactions – however emotional or devoid of emotion are closely observed and then dissected after the service.  But, in that moment – you could care less because you are dealing with something far bigger than people’s chatter.

Your thoughts begin with how your legs will hold you up to make the walk to the front row and then how to stand to exit while being paraded out under everyone’s watchful eye.  Your hopes are to make it through the service without passing out; to be strong out of respect for the one you lost; and to get back home as soon as you can.

Your front row status does not end with the funeral itself because there are the ‘pre-funeral’ and ‘post-funeral’ festivities too. 

You must interact with those who want to show how sorry they are but in moments of awkwardness discuss the weather or some happy tidbit of news from their lives.  What?  You find yourself shaking your head and hoping you are smiling enough to acknowledge their presence while wishing they would stop.   There are also moments of seriousness such as an apology for how they wronged your loved one which elicits the same desire for them to stop.

On the front row at a funeral you hear a lot of what is being said, but sometimes your thoughts are transported to the memories that aren’t shared out loud.  And, even as the tears flow, you are able to laugh out loud while watching a slideshow.  You tell yourself over and over, “don’t lose it,” “don’t lose it.”   You are raw and your emotions are all over the place, but you are appreciative of each and every person who took the time to come and honor your loved one.

The problem is that you can’t feel that love and support because you are too occupied with holding it together and getting off that front row!

How can you help someone on the front row at a funeral?   

If you need help going through grief or need to learn how to help someone on the front row at a funeral, purchase the book “Dying to Be Healed” and sign up for my weekly encouraging newsletter focused on grief and health.