How To Talk To The Grieving Family At A Funeral Service

When getting ready to attend funeral services, many people feel anxious about the moment at which they'll stand in front of the grieving family and offer condolences. This interaction can often prove challenging, given that the family is in considerable grief and it can sometimes be hard to find the right words to say. While the exact approach you take depends on your relationship with the family, and even the age at which the deceased passed away, there are some helpful rules to follow. Keep the three tips in mind and you'll get through this interaction with ease.

Keep Your Message Short

Some people make the mistake of talking too much when they greet the family at the funeral. While there's no specific duration that your conversation should last, it's ideal to avoid talking too much. Remember, there are other funeral attendees standing in line behind you waiting to offer their condolences to the family. In general, your interaction should include an expression of your sympathy, a brief memory of the person who has passed, if you have one, and an offer of helping the family after the funeral, if you're able.

What To Say

Your words to the family should be genuine, but you don't need to feel pressured to prepare a series of remarks. Something as simple as, "I'm so sorry for your loss. Please know how much I'm keeping you in my thoughts during this time" is appropriate. You can also acknowledge the loss with a sentiment such as, "I can imagine this is a tough time for your family." If you opt to share a memory of the person who has passed away, ensure that it's suitable for the moment. It shouldn't be a wild story about your time together in college. Instead, you might wish to share an anecdote about something the person taught you or a special moment that you'll remember for years to come.

What To Avoid Saying

Be careful to avoid offering sentiments that seem well-intentioned, but actually cause hurt to the family in grief. For example, you shouldn't tell the family that you know how it feels, nor should you offer the thought that the family's loved one is in a better place. Neither of these messages offers much solace to the family. Additionally, avoid offering your assistance if you feel you can't deliver -- don't say "Let me know if there's anything you need" if you don't wish to help out in the days or weeks ahead.