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What Do I Say to the Family of the Deceased?


Outdoor shot of funeral
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Question: I'm always very uncomfortable at funerals and the visitation beforehand. Is it absolutely necessary to talk to the family of the deceased? If so, what should I say? I don't want to upset them more than they already are.


You should say something when you attend a funeral or visitation, but it doesn't have to be much. It is always appropriate to extend your sympathy for the family’s loss. No one expects you to be witty or sharp. All you have to do is offer a few sympathetic and kind words, such as, "I'm so sorry. Your uncle was loved by many." Or "He was a wonderful man and a talented musician." 

If you have more to say, keep it positive. This is not the time to say anything negative. Never create drama at a funeral or visitation. The family is already grieving. Don't make it worse.

The length of time you should spend talking to the family members will depend on how well you know them. If you are close, you may stand with them longer. However, if you don’t know them well, you should express your sympathy and politely move on so others will have an opportunity to talk to them.


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