To set your nerves at ease
The death of a loved one often leaves us feeling lost and not sure what we can do. It is natural to feel this way. Here are some helpful suggestions to give you insight on how to comfort those who are grieving.
Using your own words, express your sympathy. Kind words about the person who has died is always appropriate. If the family wants to talk, they usually simply need to express their feelings; they aren’t necessarily looking for a response from you. What you say depends entirely on your relationship with the deceased and their family. If the deceased is an acquaintance or casual friend, saying “I’m sorry,” “He was a wonderful person and a friend of mine. He will be missed,” “My sympathy to your family,” or something comparable is appropriate. However, if you are closer to the family you may want to ask if there is anything you can do to help or express your feelings about the deceased. You should not ask for details from the family about the illness or death.
- Memorial Gifts
- Phone Calls
- Food for the family
- Mass Cards
It is no longer necessary to wear black to a funeral. Wearing colorful clothing is no longer inappropriate for relatives and friends. However, persons attending a funeral should be dressed in good taste so as to show dignity and respect for the family and the occasion.
It is only necessary to stay for a short time; fifteen minutes or so gives you enough time to express your sympathy. Your simple presence will mean a lot to the family. You do not need to stay for the entire visitation, but try not to leave during any prayers or services.
A formal visitation provides a time and place for friends to offer their expressions of sorrow and sympathy. This practice is most common among the Protestant and Catholic faiths. The obituary should tell you the visitation hours and when the family will be present.
When you speak to the family, don’t feel as though you must avoid talking about the person who has died. Talking can help the grieving process begin. Do not feel uncomfortable if you or the family member becomes emotional or begins to cry. Allowing the family to grieve is a natural healing process. However, if you find yourself becoming extremely upset, it would be kinder to excuse yourself so as not to increase the strain on the family.
Many times the family will be in a receiving line near the casket. Viewing the deceased is not mandatory. However, if offered by the family, it is customary to show your respects by viewing the deceased, and, if you desire, spending a few moments in silent prayer. If a kneeling bench is placed in front of the casket, you may kneel and say a prayer. If you do not wish to kneel, you may stand in front of the casket for a moment.