Surviving the Reception
Congratulations, you’ve done it! You’ve gotten through the funeral. Was it beautiful? Yes. Was it touching? Probably. Did it suck? Absolutely. Most people think getting through the funeral is the toughest part, and to some degree I guess it is. That’s not what we’re talking about today. Today, we’re tackling a completely different, almost forgotten monster that comes after the funeral. Today, we’re talking about the reception.
“But Shannan, I thought the funeral was the hardest part! Getting through listening to those memories and thoughts.”
You’re not completely wrong. The reception isn't a commonly discussed event in terms of grief...but it’s just as rough. The funeral service usually has some structural order to it. The reception, is arguably worse, because you have to talk to people, and people can be absolutely terrible.
Yes, grief is selfish, and you’ll likely want to skip this altogether. If you do muster up the energy to go, here are three things that will hopefully get you through it.
Come up with your blanket statement. There will be a lot of “I’m sorry for your loss” and “How’re you holding up?” coming your way. For those people you don’t know very well, a predetermined statement that you can repeat as many times as you can handle will get you through the quick interactions. This is something that I used for co-workers, friends of friends, or extended family that I didn’t know very well. “I’m hanging in there, and I’m grateful to have an amazing family in my corner.” This was mine. Feel free to borrow it.
Create a “safe word” or hand signal with a trusted friend for help. This is for the people who may be a little closer to you, who you may love dearly. Even though you may love these people, sometimes, the interaction may be a lot. My best friend was on top of it. If I found myself getting weary of a conversation and needed to get away, all I had to do was shoot her a look, and she was right there. She seamlessly distracted whomever I was talking to, giving me an opportunity to politely excuse myself.
Take a break and step away if you need to. This one is self explanatory. Be kind to yourself. If you need a few minutes to yourself, away from the noise, don’t hesitate to take it.
You’ll get through it, I promise.