When you’re attending a cremation or memorial service, do you often find you’re at a loss for words? You’re not alone. Many people can’t seem to find the right thing to say to a friend or family member who has just lost a dear loved one.
Of course, we all want to express our heartfelt condolences to the widow, widower and other close relatives—but many of us just don’t know how to verbalize our sympathy to someone who is suffering through such pain and sadness. Unfortunately, even the most well-meaning funeral guests often end up saying things that are inappropriate, hurtful or downright disrespectful. Here at Georgia Cremation, we’ve heard it time and again—and many people don’t even realize they’re doing it.
Here are six phrases you should never utter at a funeral or cremation memorial service:
- It was all part of God’s plan. No matter how religious a person might be, no one wants to hear the death of their loved one was part of a “plan” at the funeral. A few weeks or months after the service, some folks may take comfort in the thought that God called their loved one home; but during the funeral, this statement minimizes the sadness and grief they’re suffering right now.
- He’s in a better place now. This unhelpful statement can be especially devastating for people who don’t believe in an afterlife. Yet even if the survivor does believe in heaven, this phrase could make them feel abandoned by their loved one.
- God never gives us more than we can handle. Considering many survivors feel as if they’re hanging on by a thread at the funeral of their loved one, this is an extremely unhelpful statement. In fact, they may already feel as if they can’t handle the death of their loved one, particularly if it was a violent death, a lengthy health battle, an unexpected death or the loss of a child.
- I know how you feel. No, you don’t. Even if you’ve lost a loved one, each unique person experiences a completely different grieving process. So you can never understand exactly how someone is feeling after the death of a loved one. Anyway, this isn’t about you. It’s about them.
- How are you doing? Although commonly posed at funerals, this is simply a dumb question to ask a grieving person. If they were being honest, their answers might range from “miserable” to “devastated.” A better question to ask is, “Do you need anything from me?”
- Life goes on. Yes, technically this is true. For the survivors, life will continue despite the loss of their loved one. However, life will never again be the same for them. Once again, these kind of statements tend to minimize the pain and suffering they’re experiencing right now. It also forces them to try to imagine some future date when they will perhaps be happy again.
So avoid these six statements like the plague during a funeral or memorial service! What should you say instead? Here at Georgia Cremation, we recommend statements like, “You are in my thoughts,” or “Is there anything I can do for you?” or “I’m here for you if you need me.” It can also be helpful to share fond memories or funny stories about the deceased. However, the best thing you can do is stop talking and listen. Let the survivor tell you how he or she is feeling during this difficult time.
For more information about memorial service etiquette or anything else related to cremation services, contact Georgia Cremation today!