Because most of us do not attend a funeral very often, we can be unfamiliar when it comes to what to say, what to wear, or how to act at a memorial or funeral service. Most etiquette experts provide opinions based on their own learned experience. The main thing is to be thoughtful of the feelings or emotions of others at this time of loss.
If someone you love has died, words may seem like it is not enough. But regardless of how shallow it may sound, just speak to them with tenderness. When you approach the bereaved at a memorial or funeral service, saying “I’m so sorry” is always adequate or appropriate.
Sometimes, a simple comment is best fitting for the moment rather than lengthy words consisting of your own personal philosophy of life after death, death itself, or even God’s will. When you pay your respects to the family and offer them condolences, a hug, handshake, or gentle squeeze may demonstrate more love than more words.
There may be tears flowing at the service, but don’t let that prevent you from speaking about the person who passed away. Sharing a special memory can be beneficial and encouraging to the family. At a faith or Christian service, the family may often greet friends after the service before they leave the place of ceremony or church. Sometimes, the surviving family members will be greeted in a line, similar to a receiving line at a wedding. You can greet each member of the family and say a word of acknowledgment.
These words to the family members can begin the healing process. If you are a surviving family member who will be a part of the receiving line, greeting attendees with a simple “Thank you for coming” or “We appreciate you being here” is enough. You can also put in a word of special acknowledgments to all the attendees by way of the funeral program. You can write a global message to everyone which will convey your appreciation in additional to the receiving line or if you choose not to have one.