In the funeral industry since 1996, we have heard it all – the good, the bad and the ugly. Most funeral attendees have good intentions. But, sometimes, people let their fear of silence lead them to blurt comments that might be better left unsaid. We know you mean well. So, please let us help you by cautioning against socially unacceptable funeral-service banter.
What Not to Say
Never say: “I know how you feel.”
You might have recently lost someone you love, but it is presumptuous to think that everyone handles grief in the same manner. Grief is as unique as the people who experience it. So, avoid the temptation to relate to the mourner. Instead of declaring your own emotions, offer to make yourself available to listen. They might end up asking you about your own experience, at which time you can share the way your own loss made you feel. But wait for the invitation. And, in the meantime, feel free to tell them you aren’t sure exactly what to say, but that you are sorry for their loss.
Never say: “He/she is better off.”
If the decedent was sick prior to death, you may be right about death being preferable to suffering. But don’t go there, because that isn’t your call. In many cases, grievers don’t want to consider the fact that their loved one is better off outside of their presence. Also, the statement begs the question about the afterlife, which can be a controversial topic to address while in a receiving line. Better to smile and offer a hug.
Never say: “At least he/she lived a full life.”
This assumes that all elderly deceased were happy and healthy throughout most of their lives. But dying at a ripe old age doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the life that proceeded death was full. Instead of making sweeping generalizations, keep your condolences directed to the person in grief. Make sure they know you care and that you are sorry for what they are experiencing. It isn’t your responsibility to make sure they feel good about the timing of their loved one’s death.
Never say: “He/she looks great.”
Making comments about appearance while looking at a dead person emphasizes the fact he or she is not alive. Not that you are trying to hide that fact from the family; but realize that immediate family members may not like the way their loved one appears lying in state. You would be better off entirely refraining from making comments about the deceased’s appearance. An exception to this is if you are asked your opinion during the viewing.
Never say: “Don’t cry” or “Why aren’t you crying?”
It isn’t your job to evaluate the way someone is handling his or her loved one’s death. People experience grief in similar stages but at very different paces. What’s more, shy, introverted, mourners will react differently than their outgoing, extraverted counterparts, who may more readily express emotion. The bottom line is that the exhibition of grief is a very personal matter. Instead of telling the bereaved what to do, you are better off reaching out your hand.
About Foothill Funeral & Cremation Services
Funeral directing is a unique job. The reason we enjoy it is because we love helping families during their time of need. Drop by our Glendora showroom any time. In Covina, our relationship with Sacred Heart Chapel is the perfect place for mourners to host funerals and memorial services in a grandiose yet intimate setting. We proudly serve the San Gabriel Valley, San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles Basin, Orange County and the Inland Empire. Working in the mortuary industry since 1996, we have worked hard to build a reputation of quality, sincerity and trust. We would be honored to help you at your time of need or in the future. Call today (626) 335-0615 or drop by our showroom.