Is it OK to Laugh or Applaud during a Funeral?
Laughter, tears, applause, reverent silence, music and even dance can all play a part in a funeral or memorial service. They are all completely natural human responses to the heightened emotions of love and loss.
Applauding a heartfelt and sincere eulogy or tribute just feels 'right' to most people. It isn't in any way disrespectful - in fact quite the opposite - applause is a collective appreciation and endorsement of what has been said and symbolises empathy and support for the speaker. It brings people together and binds them in a shared emotion just as powerfully as does a prayer or a hymn.
Similarly, it is OK to laugh at times during the ceremony. It feels like a relief to laugh and serves as a very important reminder that although this is a time of great sadness, life does and will go on and that our memories can be joyous as well as sad.
This was starkly illustrated recently at the funeral of a father whose two young daughters were absolutely inconsolable until the medley of songs chosen by their aunts and uncles was played. The song list also included ones the girls would sing and dance to with their Dad. As the playlist unfolded, their tears turned to smiles and memories of happy times together.
The physical change in them was amazing to see, as they seemed to realise for the first time that they would not be sad forever and that it was still OK to smile, sing and laugh.
It was as if their beloved Dad was giving them that permission himself and it was a moment so powerful and so full of hope amidst the despair that it lifted everyone in the room.
Many times we have been privileged to witness the beauty and bravery of a mother who danced her daughters' spirit into the sunshine after the service and of a doting grandfather dance his grand-daughters out of a chapel and of a wonderful mass flash-dance...not to mention the power of a Haka.
We all grieve in our own way, but we don't have to grieve alone. Feeling able to be ourselves and to share these important human rituals on the day of the funeral is a great way to start on that journey of grief as a connected and caring community bound by love and respect for the person who has died.
There is a great comfort in shared emotion and responses on the day of the funeral.
Laugh. Cry. Applaud. Sing. Dance.
Above all. Be Real.
Every person is unique. Every family is different.
With us, every Funeral is Individual.