Tips for Expressing Condolences When You’re Not Religious
The nuances of language can be tricky, especially when you’re trying to find the right words to convey your sympathy for someone’s loss. Fortunately, there are plenty of thoughtful, genuine ways to express your condolences without using religious language. Remember that your presence in the funeral home is more important than what you say.
Knowing What to Say
After a death, the bereaved family will hear plenty of people say, “You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers.” This expression is used so often that many people say it without necessarily intending to pray for the deceased or the family. You can shorten it to, “Your family will be in my thoughts.” If you want to avoid using a well-worn phrase, speak something from the heart. If you’re close to the family, you could offer a hug and say something simple like, “I have no words. I’m so sorry.”
Attending a Religious Funeral Ceremony
Attending the funeral ceremony is a respectful and gracious gesture.Even if you’re uncomfortable in a house of worship, you can take a seat toward the back and sit quietly, without participating in prayers. If it’s a Catholic service, expect the congregation to stand, kneel, and sit back down again at frequent intervals. When it’s time for communion, simply remain in your seat.
Providing Ongoing Support
It’s common for the reality of the loss to set in long after the funeral. Be there for the bereaved family. Don’t push someone who is grieving to talk, but do let him/her know you’re there to listen or help. If your friend is a theist and wishes to talk about religious topics, listen attentively and offer a comforting touch. Your friend might ask something like, “I think I felt dad’s presence last night. Do you think I’m crazy?” While not getting into a theological discussion, you can still be reassuring by smiling and saying something like, “I don’t know what you felt but I do know your father loved you very much..”
Mountain View Funeral Home, Memorial Park & Crematory provides thoughtfully designed funeral services in Lakewood, Washington for families from all walks of life. Our personalized memorials can reflect secular values. Reach us at (253) 584-0252 and let us know how our funeral planning professionals can help your family.