February 5, 2023

What to Say Before, During, and After a Funeral

Finding the right words is never easy when someone loses a family member or friend. We often skirt around the topic for fear of offending or hurting the person. But then we lose the opportunity to comfort them and show our love and support. For those dealing with loss, kind words can make a huge difference.

If you struggle to express yourself at funerals, here are some things you can say to help bring peace to those who need it. Remember that it’s better to say something and be sincere than to say nothing at all.

What to Say Before a Funeral

When someone dies, it’s important to acknowledge the loss before the funeral, especially if you’re close to the bereaved. It may feel like you’re bringing it up at the wrong time, but you’re telling the person that you’re willing to listen if they want to talk about it.

You can express your condolences before the funeral by sending the person a card. That way, you can select your words carefully. However, calls and visits are often appreciated, too. Here are some things you can say:

  • “I’m here to listen if you want to talk.”
  • “I’m sorry for your loss. I’m praying for you and your family.”
  • “They were great people. We will miss them dearly.”

What to Say During a Funeral

When attending a funeral, you should go to the bereaved family and offer them your condolences. If you’re not close to them, you can say something simple like “I’m so sorry for your loss.”

But if you know them well enough, you can say something more personal or share a memory of the person who has passed. You can say something like: “I’m so sorry that you lost your mom. She was an amazing person, and we will all miss her.” Take cues from the bereaved and see if they want to talk more. If not, your quiet presence will be enough.

What to Say After a Funeral

If you have more time to talk to the surviving family members after the funeral, you can follow up with words of comfort and reassurance. You can ask them how they are and give them the space to talk.

You can also tell them that it’s okay to feel whatever they’re feeling, whether sadness, anger, guilt, or anxiety. You can add that even though you can’t take their pain away, you’re there for them if they need you. Lastly, you can ask them if they need help with anything. You can offer to go grocery shopping or cook meals for them.

Things You Shouldn’t Say to Someone Experiencing Loss

There are certain insensitive expressions to avoid saying to the bereaved. Never assume how they feel, even if you’ve experienced loss yourself. Don’t say things such as “You’re probably feeling…” or “I know exactly how you feel.” Everyone experiences loss differently.

In addition, don’t try to offer a silver lining. You might come across as trying to invalidate their feelings. Avoid platitudes like “Everything happens for a reason,” “He’s in a better place now,” or “At least they had a good life.” Lastly, don’t tell them that they’ll get over it. When you lose someone dear to you, you never fully move on. Instead, you learn to carry the grief with you.

The Bottom Line

You can bring peace and comfort to those dealing with loss by saying the right words at the right time. However, it’s just as important to listen. For more information, contact Wyuka Cemetery at (402)-474-3600.


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