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What to Say at Funerals

What to Say at Funerals

When someone passes away it can be difficult to know what to say to those left behind. We all deal with situations in different ways and sometimes words can be hard to find and, unintentionally offensive.

The grief and loss that the close friends and relatives may be feeling is going to be much different to your feelings, especially if you were not very close to the deceased. It can be hard to convey or express the right emotions to them and be respectful of their emotions.

A good staring point and something that is often used to express your feelings is quite simply “I am sorry for your loss” or even “please accept my condolences”

Even if you were not close, or had never met the deceased, these are some of the safest words to say. They are inoffensive and express sorrow.

Many times the people grieving just want to talk and offer memories of the deceased. If you are unsure what to say the safest option here is to just listen. It is not a good idea to bring up your own feelings of loss (if you have experienced it) because it will potentially belittle their feelings. Remember you are at the funeral of someone else and it is about them and their memories.

Only ask questions if you know that it is appropriate to the type of conversation you are having with the people grieving, but don’t pry and ask specifics as it might cause unnecessary anxiety and pain. Maybe ask them to share some of their fondest memories and try not to dwell on the sad times, unless they are discussing them.

Even if you are a guest at the funeral with someone else and did not know the deceased personally, don’t refer to then as ‘the deceased’, always use their name.

Should you be social media friends with any of the relatives or friends and they post a heartfelt message about their loss, it would be courteous and supportive to leave a respectful message or comment showing support and understanding. “Thinking of you” is a safe response.

If those grieving are discussing happy memories smile, agree and acknowledge, even if you know some things are wrong. This is not the time to disagree.

Here are some things you should avoid saying as even if they are not meant to offend or upset, they may well do.

“He/She is in a better place.” You don’t know their beliefs and how they feel about heaven so maybe avoid using that phrase.

“Well you didn’t really get on so it must be easier now.” Regardless of the complaining the person might have done about the deceased, now is not the appropriate time to remind them. They may be feeling guilty or might have exaggerated their negative feelings to you for effect. Regardless, it does not mean that they are still not sad about their loss.

“He / She was really old/sick so it’s probably for the best.” This can be offensive and even if you are referring to the fact that the suffering and pain is over, it is not going to help those grieving, and it is not really your place to say it. Even if they say it to you, just nod and agree in silence as they are likely to be trying to convince themselves.

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