Family members who have just lost a loved one are at their most vulnerable during the funeral service. As such, it's important that your words to the family during your brief visit are as thoughtful as possible. Conveying your sympathy, relaying a happy memory that you have of the person who has passed away and offering to follow up with the family in a few days to offer assistance are all viable things to share. During this discussion, however, it's important that you steer clear of saying certain statements that can be construed as insensitive – even if you say them with the best of intentions. Here are three such statements.
"Your Loved One Is In A Better Place."
Sharing the sentiment that the family's loved one is now in a better place is common at funerals but can be problematic for a couple reasons. Regardless of the family's religious beliefs, it's often safe to assume that the family members would rather than their loved one would be with them rather than "in a better place." The other concern is that some of the family members are not religious, they don't subscribe to the idea – even if it's comforting – that their loved one is in heaven.
"I Know What You're Going Through."
It can be tempting to want to relate to the family's grief by explaining that you've dealt with a similar situation in the past. The reality, however, is that you can't know exactly what the family is going through because you're not a member of the family. Every family experiences loss in different ways, which makes this good-intentioned statement not exactly true. Additionally, if you're referring to a loss that you recently suffered, you might be seen as taking the attention away from the mourning family so that you can receive messages of sympathy for the death of someone close to you.
"You Can Always …"
Telling a member of the family that he or she can take steps to overcome the loss can seem insensitive. For example, telling a new widow that she can always remarry in a few years will do little to make her feel better in her current period of grief; likewise, telling someone that he can always find a new best friend really isn't helpful. These sentiments can make it seem as though you're telling the person to move on quickly and forget about the person he or she has lost. Even though you're trying to be helpful, there's a chance that the sentiment won't be appreciated. Contact a funeral home director for more advice on how to conduct yourself during a funeral.