How to Express Condolences: Basic Funeral Etiquette
Funeral etiquette provides the appropriate way to express your condolences
Funeral etiquette rules are some of the most important to know because the loss of a loved one is a very emotional experience. When faced with this occasion, you must choose your words and actions carefully. It is important to keep in mind that people manage their emotions in different ways. Although acknowledging the loss of the person and expressing your sympathy is the honorable thing to do, the manner in which this is done must also be considered. Sympathy flowers are usually accompanied by a sympathy card, here are some basic guidelines to help you show support to a loved one in an appropriate way:
What to Do When You Learn of the Death of Someone You Know:
Respond promptly: Proper funeral etiquette requires you to send your condolences as soon as possible after learning of the situation. Although electronic mail is used for many messages, it’s more thoughtful to use postal mail to deliver your sympathy card as soon as possible.
Choose the right recipient: If you knew the deceased, but did not know the family, your sympathy flowers and card should be addressed to the closest relative of the deceased; either the parents, the surviving spouse or the eldest child. In the case where you know a member of the family of the deceased, your card and flowers should be addressed to this person.
Always use your full name: It’s proper funeral etiquette to use you first and last name when signing the sympathy card, no matter how well you know the person who is grieving. Be sure to post your card with your return address, so that the mourning family will be able to send a thank you card.
What to Say in Your Sympathy Card
- My heartfelt condolences on the loss of your [father/wife/mother/husband/son/daughter/friend]
- In loving memory of [Full name of deceased]
- Please accept our condolences on the loss of your [father/wife/mother/husband/son/daughter/friend]
- My [Our] heartfelt sympathy to you and your family
- I am [we are] sorry for your loss
- Our [My] thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time
- [Full name of deceased] will always be in our hearts
- Please accept our condolences on the loss of your[father/wife/mother/husband/son/daughter/friend]
- With my deepest sympathy at this time of sorrow
- The memory of [Full name of deceased] will be with us always
What Not to Say in Your Sympathy Card
The loss of a loved one is a highly personal matter. Although you may have had this experience yourself, remember that the person who is receiving your sympathy card is going through a difficult time and could be more sensitive than usual. Regarding funeral etiquette, the last thing you want to do is make the situation worse by sending a message that disregards their feelings, such as;
- You’ll get over this in time
- They’re in a better place now
- This too shall pass
- It was time for them to leave us
- I understand how you feel
- Let me know if there is anything I can do
Sending sympathy flowers to the home of the mourning family before the funeral or a floral arrangement for the funeral service should always be accompanied by a card with your full name and sentiments that follow the same funeral etiquette. Sending a greeting card after the funeral, preparing a home cooked meal or providing other services are excellent ways to show your support to the grieving.