Avoid Saying These Things at a Funeral

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Casket with flowers. Richard Ross/Getty Images

Funerals are typically somber events, where everyone stands around, shares memories of the deceased, and whispers words of sympathy to family members. However, many of us have been in situations where someone walked in and made some major faux pas that set our teeth on edge.

Before you attend your next funeral, brush up on proper etiquette and check out some of these things that you should avoid talking about during the service, visitation, or wake.

Here are some things you should never say:

  1. 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, so dig deep and think of something nice, even if it's about what a good dresser he was.
  2. 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 could possibly think of. The discussion of money is better left between you and your accountant.
  3. 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?
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. She's in a better place now. Maybe the deceased is in heaven, but that is no consolation to those she left behind. Trust me when I say that the survivors are not in a better place, and they don't need you telling them that.
  4. Now you'll be free to meet someone new. I never would have believed anyone could make such a crass comment until I actually heard it with my own ears a few years ago at the funeral of a close friend. 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. I don't blame him.