What to Say at a Funeral? Finding the Right Words

Losing someone you care about is hard to experience and, for some, it’s just as hard to figure out what to say at a funeral service to those experiencing that grief.

Funerals are generally a place where people can come together to remember the person who has passed away. You can also use this time to offer support to the close family members and friends who are grieving.

But how do you do this? The most important thing is to choose your words and actions carefully so that you can truly bring comfort during this sad time.

If you are struggling to know what is appropriate to say at a funeral, you’re in the right place.

Below, you will find examples of comforting things to say at funeral services, what not to say, as well as how to follow up afterward. 

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What to Say at a Funeral

There are no perfect funeral words to say during a time of loss. Trying to do so can be an emotionally challenging task.

After all, it’s a moment when we want to express our deepest condolences and offer words of sympathy that provide genuine comfort to grieving friends and family, yet we don’t want to ruin it and say the wrong thing.

We understand the importance of choosing the right words to convey heartfelt support during this difficult time of grief. 

Whether you are trying to find a funeral poem, or are looking for a simple sympathy message, these comforting words will help you on the day of the funeral.

Offering Words of Comfort and Sympathy

When offering comforting words, keep it simple and say what is on your heart. Express your condolences with phrases like:

  • “[Name] was a good person. I’m so sorry for your loss.”
  • “My heart goes out to you during this difficult time.”
  • “Please know that you’re in my thoughts and prayers.”
  • “During these difficult times, may the cherished memories of [Name]’s acts of kindness and love bring you comfort and solace.”
  • “You have my deepest condolences for your loss, and I am here to support you in any way you need.”

Sharing Happy Memories and Stories

One of the most beautiful ways to celebrate a person’s life is by sharing fond memories and happy stories. Recall moments that capture the essence of the deceased with these positive messages:

  • “I’ll always remember the time when…”
  • “Their laughter and kindness touched so many lives.”
  • “I have a favorite memory of [Name] from the time when…”
  • “We can all reflect on the moments when [Name] brightened our lives by…”
  • “[Name] was always so great at…”

Expressing Support for the Grieving Family

Let the deceased’s family know that you’re there for them with kind words like these:

  • “If there’s anything I can do to help, please don’t hesitate to ask.”
  • “Your loved one meant a lot to me, and I’m here to support you.”
  • “I’m here for you whenever you need to talk, cry, or just have someone to sit with you in silence.”
  • “Would you like me to bring over a meal on [date]?”
  • “I’m happy to take the kids to school/soccer practice/dance class on [date] so you can have some time for yourself.”

Related: Condolence Messages, Examples, Tips, and More

Funeral Speech Examples and Quotes

Consider crafting a eulogy or handing out funeral cards that reflect their legacy. The family of the deceased will appreciate knowing how their loved one has impacted other lives.

Consider using these:

  • “[Name] was a light in the world, and their absence will be deeply felt.”
  • “Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” – Dylan Thomas
  • “Nothing can happen more beautiful than death.” – Walt Whitman
  • “Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.” – Rabindranath Tagore
  • “Let us remember the wisdom of Helen Keller, ‘What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.”
  • “For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.” – Kahlil Gibran
  • “[Name] was a kind and compassionate person who made the world a better place.”
  • “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” – Matthew 5:4
  • “Unable are the loved to die, for love is immortality.” – Emily Dickinson
  • “The song is ended, But the melody lingers on.” – Irving Berlin

If you have been asked to give a eulogy but are worried about giving public speeches, Harvard has 10 great tips for improving your public speaking skills.

Related: How to Deliver a Eulogy Without Crying

Religious Words of Comfort

Faith often plays a significant role in funeral services. If the deceased person and their family have religious affiliations, offer words of comfort that align with their faith:

  • “May God’s grace and love comfort you during this time.”
  • “May God bless you and give you comfort during this time of loss.”
  • “Your loved one is in my prayers. May they rest in peace.”
  • “In faith, we find solace, and we trust that [Name] has found peace.”
  • “I am praying for your family’s strength and healing during this time.”

Looking for popular Bible verses to share? This guide has the best funeral Scriptures for services.

What Not to Say at a Funeral

No one wants to say the wrong thing during a funeral visitation. In times of grief, it’s crucial to exercise tact and sensitivity. Avoid harmful remarks that may unintentionally hurt or offend. 

Regardless of whether you are at the funeral home or a memorial service, consider avoiding these:

“Everything happens for a reason” – A lot of people tend to say this phrase thinking it is comforting. But this phrase can come off the wrong way since it suggests that there is a predetermined purpose or plan behind the loss, which may not align with the beliefs or emotions of the grieving person. It can make them feel like their pain is being dismissed as part of some greater design, which may not provide them with the comfort they need.

Steer Clear of Unsolicited Advice – Offering unsolicited advice, especially on how to cope with grief, can be burdensome for those who are mourning. Instead, focus on empathy and listening. It’s more helpful to offer empathy and a listening ear, allowing the grieving person to express their feelings in their own way and time.

Anything That Minimizes Their Grief – This includes things like “Don’t cry, they wouldn’t want that.” or “You should be grateful for the long time you had together.” Everyone grieves in their own way, and it’s important to respect their feelings.

“Time heals all wounds” – While time can bring healing, this statement is dismissive of their current emotions during the midst of their grief. It can also oversimplify the grieving process, making it seem as though the pain will automatically fade with time.

“It’s all part of God’s plan” – Being sensitive to individual beliefs and emotions is key in these situations. While this phrase may be comforting for those who are religious, it may be insensitive for those who are not. If you are not sure of their religious beliefs, it’s best to avoid phrases such as this.

Negative Words – Avoid anything that is negative about the deceased. This includes things like “They were a difficult person” or “I’m not sure what they’ll do without them.” This is not the right time to air your grievances.

“I know how you feel” – This statement assumes that the person grieving is experiencing the same emotions and reactions as the person offering condolences. Grief is a highly individual experience, and no two people will feel exactly the same way. Saying “I know how you feel” can make the grieving person feel like their unique emotions are being invalidated or trivialized.

Being mindful of what not to say at a funeral is essential to avoid causing unintentional pain or discomfort to those who are grieving. Expressing empathy, offering a listening ear, and respecting individual beliefs and emotions can go a long way in providing comfort during this challenging time.

Related: Funeral Etiquette: An Essential Guide for What to Say & Do

How to Follow Up After a Funeral

funeral words - what not to say

A bereaved person’s feelings of grief don’t end with the funeral.

In the weeks and months following a funeral, the grieving process continues. If you are comfortable, plan to be there for the bereaved in the weeks and months ahead.

Here are great ways you can offer ongoing support:

  • Making a Phone Call or Visit – A simple phone call or visit can mean a lot to someone who is grieving. Find an appropriate time to let them know you care and are available to talk.
  • Providing Practical Assistance -Practical help, such as preparing meals or running errands, can alleviate some of the burdens during this time.
  • Being There for a Bereaved Individual– Continue to reach out and be a source of emotional support. Grief doesn’t have a set timeline, and your presence can be comforting during their time of need.
  • Sending a Sympathy Card – If you don’t have much time, sending a sympathy card with a heartfelt message can be a good way to provide ongoing comfort. Include words of kindness and offer your support.
  • Small Acts of Kindness – Sometimes, it’s the simple gestures that mean the most. Offering your help with daily tasks, such as cooking meals or running errands, is a great way to be there and ease the burden on the grieving family. If you are short on time, this can also be as simple as sending a bouquet of flowers.
  • Be Present – Sometimes, the best thing is simply being there for the grieving individual.
  • Offer Practical Assistance – Help with practical matters like organizing the funeral or memorial service, making arrangements with the funeral director, or assisting with paperwork and legal matters. Taking care of these daunting tasks can help give them relief.
  • Create a Memorial in Their Name – Consider creating a memorial in honor of the deceased. This can be a charitable donation, a scholarship, or a special event that celebrates their life and passions. 
  • Provide Emotional Support – Offer a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on. Sometimes, just knowing there’s someone willing to listen can be incredibly comforting.
  • Create a Memory Keepsake – Collaborate with family and close friends to compile a memory book filled with photographs, mementos, and heartfelt messages that celebrate the life of the deceased. For more good ideas, this guide has some great memorial keepsake options!
  • Attend Support Groups with Them – If you have a close relationship, encourage the bereaved to consider attending support groups or counseling sessions. These resources provide a safe space to share feelings, discuss difficult topics, connect with others who understand the grieving process, and receive professional guidance on coping with loss.
  • Prepare Meals – Take the initiative to prepare and deliver meals to the grieving family. It’s a practical way to ensure they have nourishing food without the added stress of cooking.

Related: Best Sympathy Gifts for Someone Who Is Grieving

Losing a loved one is an emotionally challenging experience, and knowing what to say at a funeral can be equally daunting. Funerals are moments of grief, remembrance, and support for grieving family and friends.

Whether offering words of comfort, sharing memories, or providing ongoing support, your kindness can provide solace during a difficult journey of grief. Remember that each grieving person’s experience is unique, so approach each situation with empathy, love, and understanding.

In the end, it’s the genuine care and empathy that matter most.

Read Next: Thoughtful Sympathy Quotes & Messages to Share

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Cassie Reynoso

Cassie Reynoso is a website Virtual Assistant and SEO analyst. With over 3 years of experience in the field, she has worked with various clients including US Urns Online, All Gifts Considered, and others. Cassie grew up in a small...

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