3 Things You Should Never Say At A Funeral

3 Things You Should Never Say At A Funeral

Dealing with death is not easy. Dealing with the death of a loved one is even harder. A barrage of rollercoaster emotions assail the heart and mind.

I must confess I don’t do well dealing with loss.  In the past, I have either suppressed my emotions or dealt with them in a too logical way. Honestly, who does “well” dealing with the fact that someone you love very much will no longer be around? Probably not many; frankly, I have never experienced a profound sense of loss emotionally, like the recent loss of my brother in law Tim, at the young age of 37.

In the past, I have either suppressed my emotions or dealt with them in a too logical way. Click To Tweet

Tim was one of a kind in many respects; big and gentle, loving, kind, so giving, goofy and much more.  He leaves a deep void in all of our hearts, a loss that is hard to bear.

Tim’s home going service was a celebration of his life and love…music and singing.  He was a passionate, talented musician, singer, song-writer, so we played, sang, and remembered him the way he would want to be remembered.

During this time, I found it interesting to hear people express their condolences to the family. Dealing with raw emotions is not something we are typically trained to do.  We try to find words that will comfort, but in doing so, we fumble and stumble over our words.  Here are some areas I’ve noticed we can all improve in:

1. How are you doing?

This might be the worst questions to ask.  Probably because we don’t know what to say, we ask the one question that consistently has one answer.  My father in law was asked this question at the funeral reception and I heard him answer “not well, not well at all.”  I mean, how do you think someone who has just lost a son would be doing?  How would you or I be doing if we lost a son or a daughter?

We need to try to put ourselves in the shoes of the person who is experiencing loss. Click To Tweet

We need to try to put ourselves in the shoes of the person who is experiencing loss; that’s called empathy.  There aren’t any perfect words to say friends. A hug or the unspoken expression of our raw emotions are the best words.  The Bible in fact encourages us to go there. Romans 12:15 says “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.” (NLT)  There’s a time for everything as wise Solomon reminds us in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.  So next time a friend  or family member experiences loss, hug them, weep with them and maybe share the most beautiful memory you have.

2. Don’t cry, he/she’s in a better place

I think any parent, spouse, son or daughter who has lost a family member can argue that point.  In fact, although as believers we know heaven is a real and better place than here on earth, I would tend to say that for my wife’s family, the best place for Tim to be would be next to them.

This does not deny there is a “better place” where there is no more suffering or pain.  That, ultimately, is our hope, no doubt.  But in my humanity, I would rather have a few more moments of laughter, sharing food, singing and goofing around and having belly laughs with our Timmy.  I’m certain if you have lost a family member, you would give anything to see him or her walk through the door of your house.  You would be ecstatic to share another meal or coffee together.

This is not denial of heaven, it's focusing on a different reality...the pain of separation and loss. Click To Tweet

This is not denial of heaven, it’s focusing on a different reality. It’s dealing with the pain of separation and loss. Cry if you need to.  Heaven is our ultimate destination and the Bible promises that one day God will wipe away our tears, but in the meantime allow yourself to express emotions, God understands.

3. Don’t be discouraged

Discouragement is defined as “loss of enthusiasm” – it simply is a normal response while we grieve.  Our general tendency is to avoid painful situations and some feel that feeling downcast and dealing with pain is wrong or sinful. That could not be more wrong!

God is able to meet us in the midst of pain, discouragement and confusion and restore peace and joy at the right time.  There is no point in praying for courage or joy, if you already have them.  In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul was reminded “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Sounds to me like Paul had moments of weakness on occasion, doesn’t it?  Grace and power are given in times of weakness, sorrow and even discouragement. Telling someone to not be discouraged during a time of loss is just silly.

Romans 8 reminds us that the Spirit of God helps us in our weakness. Click To Tweet

Romans 8 reminds us that the Spirit of God helps us in our weakness.  Some feel they have to remain stoic just to display strength for others in the family. In actuality, it is often the only way they can deal with their pain. If family or friends lose a loved one, avoid telling them to not be discouraged. Pray instead that God’s spirit will meet them where they are at and restore peace in their time of need.

I hope you receive this as an encouragement for the future,  I certainly wish someone had told me.


PS:  If you have a comment or want to share a prayer request,  put them in the comment section.

Davide Colletta

Davide Colletta

Davide was born and raised in Taranto, Italy. He has a background in pastoral and worship ministry and presently works at IBM.

Davide has a unique communication style that has given him a platform in the marketplace to use his “get the job done” skill set.God has instilled in Davide a passion to equip the body of Christ through teaching, mentoring and speaking life through experience and wisdom of years.He is deeply passionate about pursuing and cultivating the presence of God. He currently lives with his wife of 31 years, Lois in Charlotte, NC. They have 3 amazing children with their married spouses.
Davide Colletta

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