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What Not To Say At A Funeral

Dec 03, 2020

Insensitive Comments You Should Avoid At A Funeral

A funeral is held for a few reasons: to honor the life of someone who has passed away, and to allow their relatives and friends to gather and mourn together.

These ceremonies can also be uncomfortable for many attendees. Everyone experiences grief differently, and you never know what feelings might arise at a funeral. You want to be as supportive as possible, but you might be afraid of saying the wrong thing. Keep your intentions pure and avoid saying the following phrases. They are either too cliche, or they have unintended negative connotations.

Don’t Use These Phrases At A Funeral

“I’m sorry for your loss.”

This comment is so overused that it has become a cliche. Someone who is grieving has probably heard this phrase countless times, and as a result, it probably sounds empty or hollow. 

“I know how you feel.”

It’s normal to want to let someone know they are not alone. But the truth is, you never know how someone is feeling during a period of grief. It’s an inherently lonely, personal experience. This comment also makes you sound self-centered, as you are choosing to talk about your own past grief.

“They’re in a better place.”

Comments like this have a religious or spiritual context. You cannot assume what the departed’s vision for the afterlife was -- or if they had one at all. Even if you are certain, a grieving person might be upset by the notion that the death had a positive outcome.

“You’ll get over it.”

It feels good to see a grieving person make progress and find happiness again. However, it’s patronizing to tell someone that they’ll feel better. Sure, they will develop coping skills over time, but losing someone is not something that you “get over.”

“How are you?”

This question is not particularly harmful, but you’re not going to get an honest or deep response. Someone who is grieving is probably full of complex, changing emotions, and it’s hard to verbalize them. Plus, someone might say they are doing fine just to avoid worrying others.

“Let me know if I can help.”

After losing a loved one, someone may need help with daily tasks, big or small. This is particularly true if the departed was their caregiver. However, simply asking for ways to help will not get you a response. Most people who are struggling do not know how to ask for assistance, even when they need it. Instead, offer specific examples of ways you’d like to help.

Try to Avoid Making These Conversation Mistakes

Making Jokes

For some people, laughter is the best medicine. For others, it’s the most insensitive route you can take. You can never be too sure how someone may take a comment made in jest. For that reason, avoid trying to break the sorrow atmosphere with a joke.

Talking About The Will

You might be curious about how the deceased person’s belongings will be divided and dispersed. Still, this is an inappropriate topic to bring up, especially considering that funerals are already uncomfortable to some degree.

Saying Nothing At All

Just because you’re afraid of saying the wrong thing, that doesn’t mean you should shy away from talking to others. Being silent creates an uncomfortable dynamic. Simply aim to be kind and thoughtful, and your slight positivity will cheer up others as much as it can.

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