The grief caused by the death of a close person can generate an uneasiness that results in the fact that no matter how sensible, mature, or balanced we are, we do not find what to say at a funeral and that our words are handy to that person.

Psychologists, who are experts in helping those affected by grief, often receive the same question formulated in a thousand different ways: What do we say to a relative or friend who has lost a loved one? How do we act to help him or her? Today, we consulted from Cherishmemorials and came out of this guide.

What Should We Not Say To A Person When Someone Dies?


For supporting someone who is in the process of grieving, it is as important what is said as what is not said. Sometimes, the closeness of a grieving person combined with the anguish of not finding the right words can lead us to resort to cliché. These are cliché that, although they are one of the most commonly used resources for these situations, they do not contribute anything and are considered incorrect by experts.

Some of the phrases to avoid when giving condolences are:

  • “Time heals everything.”
  • “You have to be strong.”
  • “You have to turn the page.”
  • “Now you have to think about your child.”
  • “From this moment on, you have to be the head of the family.”
  • “You must resign yourself.”

Phrases that we repeatedly hear at funerals, but the only thing they have in common is how little they help a person grieving the death of someone close to them. Phrases that seek immediate encouragement are almost distasteful, as they can be interpreted as a trivialization of grief, something perceived as merely passing that can be quickly forgotten.

The pain produced by a death creates a complicated situation in which a wrong word, no matter how good its intentions may be, can make an already open wound bigger and direct the mourning towards a path that is not the right one.

So, What To Say At A Funeral?

Given the evidence that the most common phrases are also the least suitable for such a moment, the main problem becomes finding the right words. But, although the manual of clichés is discarded, there are still good options, which will comfort the mourner and speak well of the person who chooses them for such a delicate moment.

Use empathetic condolence phrases.

Although in circumstances of bereavement, consolation is complex, the only maxim to follow when addressing people who have lost a loved one is empathy. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes, understand their situation, and think about what you would (or would not) want to hear at such a time. There is no magic recipe, no phrase that will make it all go away, but making the person going through a painful stage of their life see that we show understanding, closeness, and comprehension of their grief will be more helpful than any canned phrase.

Some of the phrases to say to relatives of the deceased may be:

  • “I can’t find the words to express to you how I feel.”
  • “I can’t imagine how difficult this time can be.”
  • “I have thought of you all this time.”

And others with similar messages show great empathy. This closeness does not put the affected person under more significant pressure and respect the grief according to the circumstances. Let us keep in mind that it will depend on how close that person is to us and, above all, let us avoid being artificial, let us personalize it according to our way of speaking and the relationship that binds us to him/her.

Let’s use short, simple, and sincere phrases.

Sometimes less is more and a simple: “My condolences,” “I am sorry,” or “I am sorry for your loss,” said from the heart and with a sincere gesture, can be more effective than trying to find words of comfort that do not reach and that can make us wrong, even if our desire is good.

All these phrases will work across all religions including Buddhist and Christian funerals.

Let us express our grief support with a gesture.

If every word counts, every gesture is just as important as what we say. Non-verbal language is an equally valid way of expressing our respect, and sometimes it is not necessary to say anything. From an accomplice and respectful silence to a hand on the shoulder or, directly, a genuine, tight, and heartfelt hug, it can be the best way to express everything we want and what the situation requires without resorting to words.


The most sincere and accurate way to show respect for a person’s grief is closeness. Always respecting a personal space where we can balance the emotions internally, but with the proximity that gives to understand that the accompaniment is not a mere physical presence, but true emotional solidarity. Physical contact is important, and personal warmth can help a lot in these moments.