Title: Finding the Right Words: Offering Condolences at a Funeral (2023)


Losing a loved one is a profound and emotionally challenging experience. When attending a funeral, it can be difficult to find the right words to express your condolences to the grieving family. In this article, we'll provide guidance on what to say at a funeral, based on your relationship with the deceased. We'll also touch on what not to say, as well as how to deliver a heartfelt eulogy that pays tribute to the departed soul.

General Condolences to Say at Funerals

  1. "This must be a very difficult time for you."

    • Acknowledging the pain and showing empathy.
  2. "There are no words to describe how sorry I am for your loss."

    • Expressing genuine sympathy.
  3. "I’m glad we can all be together today."

    • Emphasizing the importance of support and unity during such times.
  4. "Today is going to be a hard day, it’s good we’re not alone."

    • Offering companionship and understanding.
  5. "I’m sorry for the occasion but glad I get to be a part of celebrating their life."

    • Balancing sorrow with appreciation for the life lived.

What to Say at a Funeral Based on Your Relationships

If the deceased was a close relative, friend, or known in a specific context, tailor your condolences accordingly:

  1. "I still can’t believe they’re gone. Our family won’t be the same without them."

    • Reflecting the deep impact of the loss within the family.
  2. "I’m not really sure what to say. Just know that I’m here to listen if you need me."

    • Offering a listening ear for a close friend in need.
  3. "I'm so very, very sorry. They were such a wonderful person."

    • Recognizing the positive qualities of the deceased.
  4. "They meant so much to me, especially when I was younger. I use their lessons to this day."

    • Highlighting the lasting influence of a teacher or mentor.
  5. "They meant so much to our family. They were always there for us."

    • Acknowledging the support of a family friend.
  6. "Thank you for inviting me. We hadn't been in touch for a while, but they've always been in my heart."

    • Expressing gratitude for the invitation and genuine feelings.
  7. "My friend has had nothing but good things to say about [name of deceased]. They had a huge impact on their life."

    • Acknowledging the influence of the deceased on someone you know.

Remember, the level of intimacy with the deceased will guide your choice of words. A handshake or hug, depending on comfort levels, can convey additional support.

What Not to Say at a Funeral

Avoid cliché phrases that may unintentionally trivialize or minimize the grieving process:

  1. "They were great while they were here."

    • Implies that their greatness has ended.
  2. "They are in a better place now."

    • May not console those mourning the loss.
  3. "The grief will go away eventually."

    • Unwarranted assurance about the grieving process.
  4. "You’ll feel better in time."

    • Oversimplifying the complex journey of grief.
  5. "I know exactly how you feel."

    • Focusing on your own experiences instead of theirs.
  6. "It’s all part of God’s plan."

    • May not align with the beliefs of the bereaved.
  7. "Stay strong."

    • Suggests that grief is a sign of weakness, which it is not.

What to Say When Giving a Eulogy

When delivering a eulogy, remember it's a unique opportunity to honor the departed by sharing meaningful memories:

  • Share anecdotes that celebrate the deceased's positive impact.
  • Focus on the person's inspiring qualities and their role as a role model.
  • Avoid recalling negative or contentious moments.

Example Eulogy

"Kris was one of the best people I've ever known. I've always thought of her as a role model, and I know many people here felt the same way. In one way or another, lots of us have thought in our lives, 'What would Kris do?' That's Kris's legacy, I think, that so many of us will remember her as an inspiration in our lives.

Even for those of us who didn't know Kris well, she always put herself forward to engage and help. When I lost my last job, Kris came to the house that very day with Chinese takeout and two bottles of wine. Until then, we had only known each other through Daniel. That's the kind of person she was. If you were hurting, she was there to help.

That might be the best way to remember Kris. If she were here right now, she might be bawling, but she'd also be looking after the needs of every last one of us. Now we only have her example, so we have to take care of each other."


In times of grief and loss, offering the right words can provide comfort and solace to those in mourning. Choose your words carefully, be sensitive to the needs of the bereaved, and focus on celebrating the life and legacy of the departed. Your presence and heartfelt words can make a significant difference during this difficult time.

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