Q:

What do you say at a friend's funeral?

A:

Quick Answer

When offering condolences to family members at a funeral, the most important consideration is how the comments might be received by the bereaved. It is easy to intend a comforting message yet accidentally offer an offensive one.

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Full Answer

When offering condolences, comments which acknowledge the pain family members are feeling, such as "I'm thinking of you," "I'm so sorry" and "This must be so difficult for you," are always appropriate. Likewise, words praising the deceased, such as "He was a wonderful man" or "She was an amazing person," are also good choices.

In considering what to say, think carefully about the impact your words might have upon the listener and the ways those words might be misconstrued. Design your comments to comfort family members with the knowledge that their loved one made an impact during his life span. This is not the time to include commentary regarding your own feelings of loss, nor is it the time to bring up your own spiritual beliefs unless you know for certain those beliefs are shared by the family of the deceased. Even if you do share the same spiritual views, avoid comments suggesting that the deceased is "in a better place," as they may be seen as minimizing the pain of the bereaved. Any reference to "moving on" or knowing how the family members feel are also inappropriate.

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