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What words of comfort do you say at funerals?

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zanne Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-09-05 10:38 AM
Original message
What words of comfort do you say at funerals?
I just came from one, and again, I feel unable to console someone whose loved one has just died. I can't exactly say "Well, he's gone to Jesus". Even though it's just something nice to say, I can't bring myself to say it. I need some advice before I have to go to another funeral. Help!
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Lars39 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-09-05 11:50 AM
Response to Original message
1. "I am so sorry" and a hand clasp or hug covers a lot of ground.
Funerals are usually such a blur for the family. Sometimes just making your presence known is enough.
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onager Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-09-05 12:02 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. I do the same.
And mention some good memory of the deceased. Along with something about how he or she will always live in our memories.

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Zenlitened Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-09-05 12:30 PM
Response to Original message
3. "I'm sorry for your loss" is usually a good way to start.
If I'm trying to comfort someone I know fairly well, I'll share a little bit of my own experience with grieving. How I came to learn that the pain of the loss is tempered over time by the recollection of the love we felt for the person who has died, and the love that person gave to us. How that love can continue to enrich us, though the loved one is gone.

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zanne Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-09-05 12:43 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. I love that, Zenlitened.
Not only can I use it at the next funeral, but it's true! Thanks to all who responded!
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PassingFair Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-10-05 11:31 PM
Response to Reply #3
10. Me too, Zen...
I always try to let them know that the overwhelming grief will soften and blur with the passage of time.

One day you will realize that you can remember your loved one feel happy and privileged to have had what time you had with them.
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shrike Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-09-05 03:24 PM
Response to Original message
5. All the responses here are good
I'm a churchgoer and frankly have never said "He's gone to Jesus." A nice thing to say is "he's out of pain now" or "he's at peace." I don't think you'd be untrue to yourself by saying these things. Death is a release from pain for many people. The consciousness no longer exists, but if it did, it would be feeling tremendous pain. So the act of dying can bring a sort of peace, though only momentarily if there indeed is no life after death. And death does bring peace to the family. Watching a loved one die is agony -- I've done it. There is such a sense of relief when you know that finally, he/she will suffer no more.
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Modem Butterfly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-10-05 08:13 AM
Response to Original message
6. I think it's best to keep condolences simple
Grief is exhausting. I think it's best to keep it simple at the time when grief is greatest, especially if the shock of the loss hasn't yet passed. If I'm called upon to say something more elaborate, such as at a funeral or wake, I share a memory of the person and share the impact that they had on my life.

I had a young cousin die a few years ago. He was only sixteen and died while he was drinking, but his friends sought to conceal is death by making it look like he'd been carjacked. After the funeral, at my aunt's house, with all our relatives and family friends in attendance, my brother confronted me about being an atheist. He pointed out very loudly that as an atheist I believed that our cousin was dead forever and was nothing more than worm-food. It seemed like the entire house got silent. I talked about how none of us would ever forget him and talked about the influence he'd had on our lives. His mother (my aunt) started to cry and said that she liked the idea of him having a legacy beyond his life.
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shrike Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-10-05 10:51 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. Lord almighty, if you'll excuse the expression
What an experience. Although people do bizarre things at funerals. You never know what they'll do. My mother attended my dad's funeral. They had a very bitter divorce. We had a service at the funeral home prior to the mass, and people were asked to get up and share memories of Dad. He had many good, longtime friends and they all spoke of what a fine man he was. My mother was seated near me and looked ready to explode, at all the nice things said about the man she so detested. She should have stayed home.

An, nothing like a family. Sounds like you defused the situation well.
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YankeyMCC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-11-05 10:37 AM
Response to Reply #6
11. That's exactly
the sentiment I tried to convey in my eulogy of my father. And it's what I have told my son many times. "Papa is not just away somewhere, he's gone. But he's part of you, your memories and the way you live your life is how he'll continue to be part of our lives."

Every time my son does or says something and someone says, "Oh that's just like Kenny." (and I expect there will be many things since they were so close) my father's life continues on.
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arwalden Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-10-05 11:55 AM
Response to Original message
8. "I'm Sorry For Your Loss."
"Let me know if you want to talk, or if there's anything I can do for you."
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progressoid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-10-05 11:58 AM
Response to Original message
9. As said earlier, this is an exhausting experience
Keep it simple and heartfelt. No need to become Walt Whitman.

There are times when a hug or gentle hand will say much more than words.
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jeffrey_X Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-11-05 11:12 AM
Response to Original message
12. I went to my uncle's funeral a few weeks ago...
and it was painful.

The wife and I used "sorry for your loss" to everyone and I think that works well.

The service was painful, however, as the preacher referenced the name "Jesus" 50 times in about 15 minutes.
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Deep13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-12-05 11:55 AM
Response to Original message
13. "Well, I know this is very painful and I won't pretent it should not be...
Edited on Tue Jul-12-05 11:57 AM by Deep13
But you will get throught this.

Avoid saying: How is old worm-chow doing, anyway?
or: 'scuse me while I go try to score with your niece.
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Hamlette Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-12-05 02:46 PM
Response to Original message
14. for me I didn't want to hear "you'll get through this"
I wanted to say "duh!" A simple sorry or from good friends "your fond memories will help keep him with you." That somehow gave me comfort.

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LisaLynne Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-12-05 04:46 PM
Response to Original message
15. Oddly, the best thing I heard when my dad died, years ago,
was from a very religious friend of mine who knew that I'm not. She just said, "I don't know what to say" and hugged me. I'm getting all teary just thinking about it. I mean, to me, that was the most honest thing anybody said during that whole ordeal and I appreciated it.

For me, I go with the "I'm sorry for your loss" and in general, people who have just lost somebody do get to a point where they want to talk about the person. Too many people seem afraid to bring up the person, but with everybody I've lost, I've felt the need to talk about them -- not act like they were never here, just because they are no longer here. But, that's just me.

I guess that's not specific to being an atheist, just human. :)
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Synnical Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-13-05 12:00 AM
Response to Original message
16. Timely for me, zanne
Thanks for all comments. One of my best friend's mother just passed away - and my friend is also an atheist. Tomorrow, I must attend the xian service and burial.


Tonite, I was at the viewing/visiting thing . . . stupid human rituals, IMO.

Tonite, I bit my tongue when friends of my friend stated they believe life is just karma or play acting or a screen (scream) play (my thoughts) for "what is to come".

Must be polite . . . Peoples can believe what they want . . .must be polite . . . My friend needs me . . to be polite. . .

Three hours tonite, at minimum four hours on the morrow!

Mantra: I will not ridicule these people. I will not!


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beam me up scottie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-13-05 01:07 AM
Response to Reply #16
17. We're here for you.
It helps me to know that I've got a place to go when I need to vent.

I'm sure you will be there (and behave) for your friend.

If you feel yourself slipping, use the rubber band around the wrist trick.

When you feel the irresistible urge to mock, snap the rubber band on the inside of your wrist. Stings a little, but it works.

By the time I quit smoking, I had callouses on both of my wrists.

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Synnical Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-13-05 07:25 PM
Response to Reply #17
18. Great Advice!
Edited on Wed Jul-13-05 08:04 PM by Synnical
BMUS - I checked DU before the funeral today and took your advice about the rubber band on my wrist. It worked wonderfully. Everytime I felt myself about to growl or scowl or grunt or scoff, I just snapped it. Manged to make it thru the service, I think, without being disrespectful. Thanks. Also, interesting idea regarding quitting smoking - I need to do that. Another thing that helped when I was about to start crying (when family members stood up to speak) - I just kept thinking about Karl Rove's nickname - Turd Blossom - and his impending doom. Took my mind off the sadness of the occasion.

What a creepy day. Preacher telling everyone they're all BORN sinners and have to accept JESUS CHRIST as YOUR SAVIOUR or YOU WON'T HAVE A RESERVATION IN HEAVEN. At the end, he asked anyone to raise their hand if they wanted to accept JESUS into their life, but were having a problem doing so. ICK - I felt as if I was in a room with a bunch of lunatics.

Anyway, thanks again.
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beam me up scottie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-13-05 08:40 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. You're welcome.
Ew, I had no idea it was going to be that bad.
What a fantastic way to make everybody uncomfortable at the funeral, try to convert the sinners.
Couldn't let that golden opportunity slip by, could he ?
Probably was the largest captive audience he's had in a month of Sundays.

I'm glad the rubber band worked.
I'm picturing it; the preacher says something church-like and tells everyone to pray.
The room falls silent, except for an odd snapping sound...

:rofl:

Glad you made it back !
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FiveGoodMen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 01:51 PM
Response to Reply #18
20. The last four family funerals
I've been to featured (in increasing levels of intensity) that fire-and-brimstone, convert-while-you-can pitch. I think it's disgusting to hijack a remembrance service with that kind of stuff.

This morning I went to a friend's dad's funeral and they didn't do any of that. Much better. So not everyone's crazy.
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beam me up scottie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 02:03 PM
Response to Reply #20
21. I really wonder if the
deceased would have wanted that type of service or if the preacher-man takes advantage of the family in their time of need.

Actually, now that I think about it, I can answer my own question.

Hijack is the word for it and it's despicable.

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