Feeling Guilt for Not Attending a Funeral? (How to Handle It)

Feeling guilt for not attending a funeral?

No matter whose funeral it is and what connection they had to you, it should always be your choice whether or not you attend a funeral.

As long as you were free to make your own decision, you should not feel guilty about not attending if you didn’t want to.

This is often easier said than done, however.

I’ve had to miss two funerals in recent years; one was my choice not to go, and the other was out of my hands.

So, I’ve felt the emotions that come with missing a funeral from choice and not having the choice.

I’ve definitely felt guilt for not being able to attend a funeral, but I was able to find peace with myself and deal with it.

In this article, I hope I’m able to help you also find peace as holding onto guilt will only cause you stress, anxiety, and lead to other mental and emotional issues.

Should I Feel Guilty for Not Wanting to Go to a Funeral?

Guilt is often an emotion attached to doing something wrong, but it’s actually a self-conscious emotion that we can feel about any situation or event.

Funerals are one of the most emotionally charged events we have to deal with in our lives.

I want to stress that some people deal with the passing of loved ones better than others, and there is no right or wrong way to deal with loved ones passing.

If you do not want to attend a funeral, I will assume you have a good reason.

Therefore, you should not feel guilty for not going.

The only reason you should feel guilty is if you really want to attend, but for some reason cannot.

Even then, you should not shoulder all the guilt. Holding on to such a negative emotion as guilt can be incredibly harmful to your wellbeing.

Why Do I Not Want to Go to a Funeral?

If you’re not sure why you don’t want to go to a funeral, you really should have an honest conversation with yourself to find out why.

Some of the common reasons why people do not attend funerals include:

  • There is someone else attending you do not want to see
  • Someone has expressed discomfort in you going
  • You literally can’t make it to the funeral in time
  • You have a mental health condition that is stopping you
  • You feel although the emotions it will bring up are too much for you

But if there is another reason, something that you can’t explain in physical terms, this is different.

It’s very possible that you’re just too sad. You may be grieving, and everyone deals with grief differently.

It’s important you speak to friends and family about how you’re feeling and what it is that you think is stopping you from going.

This will often help you uncover the emotions and feelings that pull you to make this decision.

Is It Disrespectful if You Don’t Go to a Funeral?

If you have a valid reason why you don’t want to attend a funeral, even if it’s only valid to you, it’s not disrespectful.

To be disrespectful, you would have to deliberately do something unreasonable or something that you know the deceased wouldn’t have liked.

This doesn’t mean family and friends will see it the same. But keep in mind that emotions run high at funerals and people don’t think as clearly as they normally would.

People attending, particularly those close to the deceased, deserve to know why you’re not attending so don’t pass on letting people know you’ll not be there.

How Do You Apologize for Not Attending a Funeral?

If you’ve been invited to a funeral and know that you will not be attending, it’s very important that you let the person responsible for organizing it know.

If you’re stuck on what to say, here are some things you could consider saying:

I’m writing to let you know that regretfully I will not be able to attend the funeral due to some personal circumstances. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone.

I’ve had to make the tough decision not to attend the funeral. It wasn’t easy for me to write this, I hope you understand and know that I will be thinking of you and [the deceased] on the day.

Please accept my apologies as I will not be attending the funeral. This isn’t a decision made lightly, I’ve been thinking about it for some time. My condolences go out to everyone who knew  [the deceased].

It pains me to write this, but due to my current circumstances, I will not be able to attend the funeral. I hope you understand, and I look forward to catching up with you personally in the near future.

As well as sending a note similar to any of the above, it’s also important you send flowers and/or another appropriate gift.

You could also offer to help run errands or help the immediate family or friends close to whose funeral it is to show how much you care.


Image credits – Photo by Nico Smit on Unsplash

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