When you’re invited to a funeral, of course, you want to say the ‘right thing’, however, many choose to avoid the situation as much as possible in the fear of saying something that unintentionally causes upset and distress.
The truth is, there will never be a set right or wrong, or the perfect thing to say, instead, there is general funeral etiquette that could make the situation much easier and avoid accidentally triggering painful emotions.
Whatever the situation, avoidance is not recommended. No matter how uncomfortable it may feel, it is essential to put these feelings aside and instead make sure that your friend or family member knows that you are thinking of them.
At the end of the day, you don’t need to say much to offer your support and comfort them.
Before the Funeral
When you first hear of someone’s passing, it is very important to reach out and let your friend or family member know that you care for them and you are thinking of them.
Even a simple ”I’m sorry to hear that..” could make a huge difference.
Make sure to use the name of the person who has passed away, as many will try to avoid this out of fear of upsetting someone who is grieving. Yet crying is a totally normal emotion to feel when a loved one passes, so prepare yourself to see sadness.
Similarly, don’t feel afraid to say “I don’t know what to say”. This is the truth, after all. Words have failed you in such a heart-breaking time and your honesty will come across as nothing but authentic.
Even sitting with someone quietly could make a difference. Share the sadness with them at that moment.
During the Funeral
The day of a loved one’s funeral will be a highly emotional day, fuelled by strong emotions and sometimes it can feel as though there are very high expectations.
Navigating through the day can be difficult, but ensuring that those grieving are properly supported is important.
Depending on how well you know those grieving will determine how long you should spend talking to them.
If you’re not close, a polite acknowledgment such as “I’m so sorry” will suffice and merely being there for them will bring them a lot of comforts.
After the Funeral
The grieving process won’t end at the funeral. It can be lifelong and support may be needed in the days, weeks, and months leading on after the funeral.
A good thing to say is “how are you feeling today?”, with the ‘today’ part of the question being essential. This will avoid vagueness and can infer that little steps are okay. This question is also a lot easier than “how are you?”.
Remember, whatever you say, it is important to make sure that you say something. Keep in touch, send them a card, and give them a hug. By whatever means, let them know you are thinking of them. The support and acknowledgment will mean the world.
Above we will take you through what to say to someone before, during, and after a funeral, written in collaboration with The Elms Funeral Directors, leading providers of funeral plans Kewstoke.