It’s common to see tears shed at a funeral. What’s less common is to hear uproarious laughter. Why would someone laugh during a funeral? Well, it happens more often than you’d think. But is it okay to laugh and smile at someone’s funeral? Whether or not it’s all right to get the giggles depends on many factors.
Is It Okay to Smile at a Funeral?
It’s not only okay to smile at a funeral but it’s also encouraged, especially when greeting the bereaved. Seeing someone smile at us can help lift our spirits. It’s also a nonverbal way of showing support. Seeing a flood of sad faces can make the bereaved feel more overwhelmed, but seeing a smile can ease some of that tension.
A smile is also not in any way disruptive. Smiling during a eulogy isn’t going to upset anyone, nor would it draw any unwanted attention to you. So, if something makes you smile, don’t repress it. And try to muster up a friendly smile when talking to the deceased’s loved ones.
Is It Okay to Laugh at a Funeral?
This question is trickier. Yes, it’s okay to laugh at a funeral, but there is a time and a place for it. Funerals don’t always have to be a strictly somber event. They can be a celebration of life. And one way to celebrate that life is by remembering all the beautiful times you had together. If you’re standing around recounting old stories with friends and family, and one story makes you giggle, you’re not being rude. You’re celebrating the full life the deceased lived.
The same rules apply to the eulogy. It can feel strange to laugh during a eulogy, but if the speaker is clearly telling a funny story or even a joke to lighten the mood, you should feel free to laugh. It’s not impolite to laugh when it’s clear that was the intention of the eulogist.
Death can cause anxiety, and laughter can help relieve that feeling. So don’t hold back laughter if the situation calls for it. But you might want to try to repress that laughter if it’s coming out inappropriately. Sometimes, when people feel so much anxiety, they laugh hysterically, even if nothing is funny. These moments of laughter aren’t okay at a funeral, especially if they happen during a more somber time, like if a eulogist is telling a story that’s definitely not funny. That sort of laughter can be disruptive and can call unwanted attention to you when the spotlight should be on the deceased's life.
What Do I Do If I Start Laughing?
If your anxiety has bubbled into laughing uncontrollably, you may want to remove yourself until you calm down. But you can also try other techniques to relieve your stress. Try taking deep breaths. Take a breath in and count to four, hold for four, breath out for four, and then hold for four. Do this repeatedly until you feel calmer.
If that doesn’t work, try closing your eyes and imagining you’re in a safe, comfortable place while you breathe. Doing so will help you forget about what’s causing your anxiety long enough for you to stop laughing.
Something you may feel inclined to do is chastise yourself for laughing or remind yourself that you’re “supposed to feel sad.” Forcing yourself to feel sad when you’re already likely sad will make your anxiety worse, which will make your laughter worse. Be patient with yourself because the angrier you get with yourself, the more likely you’ll just keep laughing.
It is more than okay to laugh and smile at a funeral, but it’s essential to recognize that there is a time and a place for laughter. If you find yourself laughing when it’s not appropriate, remove yourself or take measures to lessen your anxiety. But don’t feel bad if you laugh at a joke — that moment of laughter is good for everyone.