Funerals are typically somber events where people gather to say their last goodbyes to the deceased. Normally, the noise level at the funeral is fairly quiet out of respect for those in mourning.
It's also a place where people softly share memories of the deceased and whisper words of sympathy to family members. However, many of us have been in situations where someone walked in and made some major funeral faux pas that set our teeth on edge.
What Not to Say
Here are some things you should never say:
- He sure was a miserable old guy, wasn't he? No matter how much you disliked the personality or temperament of the deceased, it's time to let it go and force yourself to say only positive things about him or her. It won't do anyone any good to dwell on the negative past. So what if he was a grouch? He is gone now, and it doesn't do a bit of good to dwell on a negative past. So dig deep and think of something nice, even if it's about what a good dresser he was.
- How much money did she leave you? Why would you ask? Are you going to request a loan? This is a rude question that is absolutely none of your business. If you ask it, you deserve the snarkiest answer the person can possibly think of. The discussion of money is better left between you and your accountant. And mind your own business with it comes to an inheritance.
- We're all better off without him. Maybe you are better off without him, but you should never assume that for anyone else. After all, what if he left a widow and six children who relied on his income and other support?
- Give it time. You'll feel much better soon. Really? If you say something this crass, you've obviously never experienced the loss of someone who meant the world to you. No matter how much time passes, if someone is loved, he or she will be missed for a very long time. Instead of saying that, let the person know you're there for him or her.
- At least now no one will have to deal with the burden of taking care of her. Even if the deceased spent the last ten years in bed with family members waiting on her hand and foot, this is not a proper thing to say. Perhaps they considered it a joy to help someone they loved, not a burden.
- I know exactly how you feel. Oh do you, now? How could you possibly know how anyone else feels? Saying this shows just how little you actually know, so if you have the urge to say it, bite your tongue. Even if you've lost someone you're close to, every relationship is completely different, as is each loss.
- I don't think I could go through losing my husband. You must be devastated. Yes, you are probably right. She is devastated, which is why you don't need to call out the obvious. And remember that chances are, someday either you'll lose your husband, or he'll lose you.
- She's in a better place now. Maybe the deceased is in heaven, but that is no consolation to those she left behind. Be sensitive and understand that the survivors are not in a better place, and they don't need you telling them that.
- Now you'll be free to meet someone new. This is something that has actually been said, and it was one of the most awkward moments at the funeral. The surviving husband blinked a few times, shook his head in disbelief, and forced a smile before he said, "I don't think so." Then he got up and walked away. Who can blame him?
When attending a funeral, the key thing to remember is to show respect. Offer support before, during, and after the services. Never say anything negative about the deceased. And do more listening than talking.