To Cry, or Not to Cry ….

Jul 31, 2023
Crying Man

As a celebrant, I sometimes want to cry at a ceremony I’m conducting. That may be surprising. But this might be because I have lost someone myself, or it may just be the reflected emotion of the occasion.

But is it right for me to cry? And is it right for the punter to cry?

And then, I’m a bloke. It’s not the done thing for men to cry, surely?

The last question can be blown out of the water at once. There’s no reason why men shouldn’t display emotions. Crying (and laughing) are part of what makes us human.

Happy Occasions

Crying at  weddings is more common than you might think. You almost expect it from the bride’s mother, say, but sometimes it can spread surprisingly wide. (Obviously, if there’s been a recent death in a family or somebody is on the way out, it’s quite normal for there to be tears.)

And we often don’t realise the adversity a couple may have had to overcome simply to reach the day. No wonder they, or relatives/friends are crying!)

Also, when I see the look of love a couple next to me is exchanging, it’s hard for me to keep a dry eye.


You expect crying at a funeral (even if the emphasis is on celebrating the life). However, funeral families often tell me that they want to stand up and read something, but don’t dare to. They think they won’t be able to get through it, or will break down in tears.

I normally reassure them that one purpose of a funeral is to release emotion. Moreover, it’s totally expected that people close to the deceased will be emotionally involved. No one is going to criticise you for wanting to shed a tear. (And I can always take over, if needs be.)

Where I personally found it hard to hold things together was during the funeral of my dear uncle. We had been very close. But again people recognised my relationship and nobody minded.

I think that even harder was the funeral I conducted for somebody I had never known. She was a young mother of two young children (aged about 6 and 8), who had known she was dying (it was cancer).

She wrote a paragraph to be read out at the funeral. That was my job. She wrote of her love, especially for the children, and, without denying her regrets, was positive and encouraging. Love was absolutely what it was all about.

I certainly wasn’t alone in shedding a tear!

My Answer

To revert to my original question, I am not sure that a celebrant should break down and “lose it” (although I believe that the odd tear is quite acceptable – we are humans too!). However, anybody else, who is faced with strong emotion, should not hold back. There’s nothing to be ashamed about, if you cry a bit. In fact, it’s positively healthy.

Photo: Tom Pumford – unsplash