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Funeral Etiquette – Knowing What to Say

Worrying about what to say and how to act at a funeral only adds more stress to an already emotional time. When it comes to expressing your sympathy and condolences at a funeral keep it sincere, heartfelt and simple.

Words of Sympathy

Words of sympathy are expressions of love and empathy for the grieving. When attending a funeral, it is best to address the family member of the deceased with a few kind words of sympathy.

The nature of your relationship with the family will dictate how much, or little you should say. If you are not familiar with the family, offer a small, heartfelt  sentiment such as:

  • I am so sorry for your loss
  • You are in my thoughts and prayers
  • I am just a phone call away
  • I have no words to express my sympathy, just know that I care
  • I am here for you

Introduce Yourself

Introduce yourself to the family members, Tom and I worked together for years. He will be sincerely missed. It provides a small introduction without taking away attention from the deceased.

Silence speaks for itself. If you can’t find the words to say, bring flowers or a letter of condolence to give to the family. A hug, hand grasp or half hug are acceptable ways of showing your sympathy when you are having trouble finding words.

Things you shouldn’t say at a funeral

  • Do not ask questions about how the deceased passed away.
  • Do not make jokes or make light of the situation thinking it will cheer up the family.
  • Do not say anything negative or hostile against the deceased.
  • Do not walk around with a smile on your face. This is a somber place, a small smile is sufficient.
  • Don’t refer to the person as the deceased always use their name.
  • Don’t compare the family’s loss to someone else you know.
  • Don’t minimize the family’s pain with comments such as God let this happen for a reason. It will get easier. You can have another baby. Even if you think these things, it is not the time or place to say anything of this matter.

The four most important things to do at a funeral are:

  • Be supportive
  • Don’t be judgmental
  • Recognize the family’s loss
  • Offer your support and sympathy.

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One Response to “Funeral Etiquette – Knowing What to Say”

  1. [...] are always a difficult and emotional occasion. Many people get nervous or anxious when attending a funeral. There are some basic principles when it comes to one’s behavior and etiquette throughout the [...]

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