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Three Things to Say at a Funeral

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crying_monumentIt’s never easy dealing with loss. A common inclination of friends and family of those who are grieving, especially at funerals, is to try to comfort a person by telling them their own experiences, saying “I understand” and stating what you believe God wants.

Here’s the thing: You should not say ANY of this.

Here are three acceptable things you can say at a funeral:

1. “I’m sorry for your loss”
2. “I’m there if you need me”
3. “You’re in my thoughts” or “I’m praying for you”

That’s it.

It may seem unnatural to limit conversation this much. However, people who have recently experienced loss are going through a hard enough time. There is no need to bother them by saying something like “God must think you are strong to give you this burden” or “I understand what you’re going through, my dog died last year.”

Other things you should avoid saying include:

  • “It’s probably for the best.”
  • “God must have wanted them home.”
  • “Don’t question God’s plan.”

Saying any of these things can end up clouding an already stormy mind.

We understand that people have good motives when saying these things. It is natural to want to help loved ones out during hard times; it is purely out of ignorance and inexperience that we end up saying the wrong words at the wrong time.

You may think it is easy to remember not to say any of these things, but people often feel awkward around silence and try to fill the gaps by saying the first thing that pops into their mind. Avoid this. Be strong. Your presence alone is great support for your loved one; don’t ruin it by saying something that may end up hurting their feelings during a tough time.

Support after the funeral

After you have supported your friend or family member at the funeral, continue to be the same great, loving friend you always have been. Check back in with them after a week or two when everyone else has gone back to their normal lives, as this is often one of the hardest times for someone who has experienced recent loss. The funeral is over, the crowds are gone and it is usually the time when they feel most alone.

Simply being present and there for moral support will go a long way toward helping them feel at ease. Picturing a world without a deceased loved one is difficult, but it becomes much easier to cope when you have a friend or family member who is there to keep you company, offer support and listen to what you have to say.

It’s often easy to forget how much someone else is hurting. During funerals, be sure to be especially mindful of how your loved ones are feeling. Don’t try to fill the gaps of silence with unnecessary comments. Be a force of comfort rather than a force of unnecessary conversation.

If you or someone you care about is having an especially difficult time with a loss, please feel free to contact us at Stenzel Clinical for an appointment. Our counselors are trained to help people deal with grief and loss. Seeking help can be a sign of strength, especially during a time of extreme sadness and vulnerability.

Don’t let the hard times weigh you down. Come get help; we’ll be here for you.