What to Say at a Funeral Service — Finding the Right Words

How to Give Words of Comfort on Anniversary of Death

When we lose someone, we often struggle to find the right words to say at the service. How can we express what we’re feeling and console the mourners without upsetting them even more? So for those who are at a loss for words and can’t convey what they’re feeling, here’s what to say at a funeral service.


Funeral Service Etiquette


Going to a funeral service can feel strange and uncomfortable, mostly because we never seem to know how to act around those in mourning. That’s why it’s vital to familiarize ourselves with proper funeral service etiquette beforehand.


For the attire, it’s not always necessary to dress in black, but our clothes should be modest and in some darker tones. If the service is taking place in a funeral home or church, unless we’re close family, we shouldn’t sit in the first couple of pews.


During the funeral visitation, we can express our condolences to the family of the deceased and pay our respects. But we shouldn’t stop and discuss something at length with the loved ones at this moment. 


Instead, we can offer a few thoughtful sentiments or even a personal sympathy note and give it to the mourners. In the note, we can briefly explain how much the deceased meant to us and share a message of support.


However, as every culture has its traditions, it’s essential to study up on those a bit before attending a funeral. For example, in some Asian cultures and the Buddhist and Hindu religions, mourners wear white at the funeral service. Those colors symbolize respect and purity.


What to Say at a Funeral Service

What to Say at a Funeral Service


Coming up with thoughtful sentiments at such an upsetting moment can be extremely difficult. We want to remain calm and collected and deliver the message in an even tone. That way, we won’t upset the mourners even more than they already are.


Also, we don’t have to be witty or sharp — just sympathetic. To avoid choking up at the moment, we should have a few prepared comments like:


  • I am truly sorry for your loss; He/she was loved by many.
  • You and your family are in my prayers.
  • Please accept my deepest condolences for your loss.
  • Whenever you want to talk about him/her, please don’t hesitate to call me. 
  • I have fond memories of him/her. I will truly miss him/her.


Of course, depending on the person, we can always tweak these to fit the situation better. Also, if we know the family well, we might share an inside joke to try and lighten their mood. 


How to Write a Eulogy


If we were close to the deceased, a family member might ask us to deliver a eulogy for the service. A eulogy is a speech we give during the memorial service in which we talk about what the deceased meant to us and others.


To deliver a heartfelt speech, we don’t need to be writers or orators; we should be thoughtful and maybe include a touch of humor. Also, we should keep it short, as the best eulogies are anywhere between three and ten minutes long.


If we don’t know what to say at a funeral service or during a eulogy, a good rule of thumb is, to be honest, but not negative. We can start with a brief introduction of who we are and how we knew the person who has passed. 


What’s more, including some funny anecdotes about what they liked or did can be a good idea. If we’re feeling stuck for inspiration, we can talk with some family members or close friends and share their stories. 


What to Say at a Funeral Service

How to Give a Eulogy


Giving a eulogy is just as hard, if not more, than writing it. Since funerals can be such an emotional experience, it’s best to rehearse the speech beforehand. Also, it’s always a good idea to have someone on standby who will take over if we get overwhelmed.


While speaking, we should try to use a conversational tone, make eye contact, and go slowly. But the best tip for giving a eulogy is to try and relax by taking some deep breaths. We can also try some meditation techniques to calm down right before the service. 


What Not to Say at a Funeral Service


At the funeral service, we shouldn’t sound negative or disparaging. We also shouldn’t try to crack jokes, gossip, or make light of someone’s death.


What’s more, it’s best to avoid recounting any embarrassing stories or negative experiences we’ve had with the deceased. Aside from that, some of the most common sentiments to avoid are:


  • He/she is in a better place.
  • You are better off without him/her.
  • I know how you feel.
  • Don’t cry; you have to be strong.
  • How did he/she die?


Also, if a person died from a lengthy illness, we shouldn’t tell their family members that it’ll be much easier without them. What’s more, if someone lost a spouse, we shouldn’t ask them if or when they plan to remarry again.


All of these remarks can seem insensitive and can make the mourners feel even worse. When in doubt, it’s best to stick to the positive comments we’ve mentioned.


Talking with Loved Ones and Family Members


How long we stay to express our condolences will depend on how well we know the family members. For example, if we weren’t close to them or to the person that passed, we should keep it short and move on.


On the other hand, if one of our family members passed, we can stay a bit longer and talk with other relatives. But at the end of the day, sometimes, a simple hug can mean more than a thousand words at that moment.


What to Say at a Funeral Service

Comforting After the Funeral Service


If we were close to the deceased or the family members, it’s important to be involved even after the service. A few days, weeks, or months after the funeral, we should reach out to those who were closest to the person who died.

We can invite them over for coffee or tea or send a personal letter or “Thinking of you” note. What’s more, we should reach out during holidays, birthdays, or special occasions and try to be there for them.


Final Thoughts


Knowing what to say at a funeral service is a challenging task, and we might often feel tongue-tied. But by sticking to what we advised above, we will make the mourners feel more appreciated and loved. 


Before you go


The reason I built this website was to help and guide people through everything funeral related.

The first thing to consider is this.

If you are tasked with having to give a eulogy I believe that a poem or poems should be used within the eulogy. Most people, however, tend to use the most popular poems.

Do you really want to be the same or say some different and memorable words?

I have a download that contains over 250 poems as well as valuable advice on eulogies.

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Secondly, if the thought of having to speak in public terrifies you then Go Here and have a look at my guide to help you through this and boost your confidence.

Michael Grover

Following the death of my Mother, I decided to make this website. I found it difficult at the time to express the correct words to say at the service. However, I stumbled across an immediate download (available here) that enabled me to find truly memorable words.

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