The funeral is something that will take up a lot of your time and energy in the first days or weeks after your partner’s death. The day of the funeral itself will probably pass by in a complete blur – but the days leading up to it will no doubt drag on in an endless round of form filling and organisational challenges.
Although you will probably not be feeling at your most decisive, you will be asked to make endless decisions on everything ranging from the type of coffin you would like to the food you would like after the funeral. Do delegate some of the decisions to people you trust to take away some of the burden.
When organising the funeral, you will probably also have to enter into a series of delicate negotiations with your in-laws. They will have fixed ideas about the send off they would like to see for their son or daughter. And this might not always correspond with your own ideas – or indeed with the ideas your partner may have had. Do stand your ground – but be prepared to make some compromises in order to maintain family harmony. After all, your in-laws have also suffered a significant bereavement. And you will probably want to keep up some kind of relationship with them in the future – particularly if you have children.
You will also have to deal with other people’s reactions to your newly widowed status. No doubt they will be shocked that someone so young has been widowed. There will be people who don’t really know what to say when they talk to you – and some may actually avoid talking to you at all. Some people rely on the worst possible platitudes to carry them through a socially awkward situation. And often you won’t know what to say in return. If in doubt, excuse yourself politely and head for the nearest bathroom.
You may also be wondering whether your children should come along to the funeral. In the spirit of honesty being the best policy, all the advice suggests that children should be allowed to come along to their parent’s funeral if they want to. Although it might be upsetting to see a coffin lowered into the ground or to see adults crying, a funeral will help them to come to terms with their parent’s death.
Because being a young widow is relatively unusual in most social circles, you will probably be overwhelmed with flowers and cards from sympathetic well-wishers in the run-up to the funeral and beyond. Although these are well meaning, don’t feel that you have to read them all at once, and indeed don’t feel obliged to reply to them straight away. Put them safely in a box so that you can get them out once the dust has begun to settle after the funeral...