What to Say at the Funeral or Memorial Service

But what should I say?

When a person calls at the funeral home, clasping hands, a warm embrace, or a simple statement of condolence can express sympathy, such as:

  • I am so sorry.
  • I'm praying for you.
  • I want to help share your burden. Would it be helpful if I were to... (It is important to make a specific offer here because often a person grieving won't be capable of putting a to-do list together for people)
  • Our deepest sympathy
  • Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
  • He/She will always be in our hearts
  • I'm sorry.
  • My sympathy to you.
  • It was good to know John.
  • John was a fine person and a friend of mine. He will be missed
  • My sympathy to your mother.

Things that might not be appropriate to say are:

  • Perhaps it was his/her time.
  • You will get over this in time.
  • I understand how you feel. (While you could very well share similar situations, each person grieves differently)
  • Call me if you need anything. (Again we go back to the fact that a person or family that are grieving need to be able to say 'yes' or 'no' to an offer of help or assistance. It might be too taxing for some to have to think of things for others to do. )

The family member in return may say:

  • Thanks for coming.
  • John talked about you often.
  • I didn't realize so many people cared.
  • Come see me when you can.
  • Thank you.




The Funeral Service
Offering Comfort
Coping with Loss
What to Say

Attending the Service
Types of Services

Common Traditions
Funeral Etiquette
Funeral Traditions

By Religion
By Country
In History

Flowers & Gift Baskets
Sympathy Flower Etiquette

Types of Flower Arrangements
Frequently Asked Questions
Where and When to Send Flowers
Before, During & After the Service
In the Days Following

Significant Loss
The Stages of Grief
The Healing Process
Complicated or Unresolved Grief

In Person
To the Bereaved

Explaining Death to a Child
In Writing
Condolence Cards
Thank You Cards
Poems & Verses