If a friend or loved one has just lost someone close to them, it’s normal to feel uneasy about attending the funeral. Even though you know you should be there to offer support to the family, offering condolences and knowing what to say at a funeral can be intimidating. What should I say? What shouldn’t I say? Am I going to sound dumb if I say this? Questions like these are probably going through your head as you prepare for the service.
Rest assured, attending a funeral and knowing what to say to someone who has lost a loved one doesn’t have to be difficult. The fact that you are attending and showing support during their time of need is all that matters. Words of condolence are all about speaking from your heart and letting the grieving family know you are thinking of them and are there to offer support as they grieve and mourn.
To help you prepare and make sure you know what to say at a funeral, we have compiled a list of things you should and shouldn’t say. For everything else you need to know about attending a funeral, please consult our funeral etiquette guide.
Before we provide some examples of things you shouldn’t say at a funeral, here are some quick tips. Never ask for details about the cause of death. Avoid asking questions about possessions or inheritance. And do not say anything about closure…ever.
Here are some examples of things to avoid saying at a funeral service.
He/she is in a better place now.
They lived a long life, it was their time to go.
Everything happens for a reason.
She was such a good person, God wanted her to be with him.
Be strong, everything will be ok.
As you look for the right words to say at a funeral, remember it’s not about finding the perfect thing to say, you just need to offer your sympathy and support during a difficult time. There will be many people speaking with the family throughout the day so you only need to say a few brief things. Sharing a story about the deceased and how you’ll remember them can be comforting for the family to hear. Or simply letting them know you’re thinking of them should suffice.
Here are some examples of things to say during a funeral service.
I am sorry for your loss.
I wish I had the right words to say, just know that I care for you.
I’ll always remember your loved one for…
If there’s anything you need, I am here for. Please don’t hesitate to call.
I’ll miss their kind words and sweet smile. Please now that I’m praying for you and your family.
A funeral often has many guests who each want to speak with the grieving family and express their sympathy. Because of this, you will most likely only get a few moments to speak with people and not have lengthy or in-depth conversations.
After you have offered your condolences, make sure to follow up with the family in the days and weeks that follow. While many people will be there in the immediate aftermath of the death, it is the time that follows the service and burial that the grieving need assistance.
Make sure that you take the time to phone or write them and let them know your there if they need to talk. If you can do anything to make life easier like cooking, cleaning or babysitting, it will be greatly appreciated by those who are mourning.
Also, try to take note of special dates and occasions and make sure you reach out on these days as well. Anniversaries and birthdays can be difficult days to celebrate if someone is missing their loved one. This is especially true if it the first time celebrating the occasion since the deceased has passed away.
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