Knowing What to Say at a Funeral

By: Anderson Funeral Home
Monday, October 3, 2016

Knowing What to Say at a Funeral

Having the right words can be a challenge under the best of circumstances, but knowing what to say at a funeral can leave us all struggling at one time or another. You want to share words that will comfort others without adding to the grief they may already be feeling. The key may be in following the lead of the one with whom you are speaking.

Finding the Right Words to Say at a Funeral

  • Watch for the lead of the person to whom you are speaking. Everyone handles the loss of a loved one differently. Seeing how the person is talking with other guests may be the best way to find your own words to share.
  • Keep it short and simple. The funeral and the reception following the funeral may not be the best time to recount a long story about the deceased. The family members will be greeting many people, so keep your words simple and direct.
  • Empathy is okay but remember that everyone is different when it comes to dealing with grief and loss. That means that even if you have had a similar loss with similar circumstances, the other person’s experience and emotions will still be unique. Keep your words directed at the feelings of the other person and you will do better with finding the right words to say at a funeral.
  • Make an offer of help or support, and be as specific as possible. Follow up the offer with a written note or card with a reminder of the offer. Include your contact information so that the family members can get in touch. Make the offer something you know that you can do and that you know that is needed.
  • Just remind the loved ones that they are loved. Share your care and concern for their well-being. Let them know that you will keep them in your thoughts (and prayers if your religion is a shared belief). A simple “We love you and are thinking of you” can sometimes be the best words you can say at a funeral.

Knowing what not to say at a funeral can be as important as finding the right words to share. Too often, our search for ways to help the healing process can instead cause more grief or anger.

Avoid saying “I know how you feel.” You can never know for certain what another person is feeling even if you have walked the same path. Because we are all unique, each person will respond and feel differently.

If you are not sure about what to say at a funeral, then you may be better off offering a smile and a nod and keeping the words to yourself. The best way to find the right words is to follow the lead of the grieving.

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