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Grief: The Wrong Thing to Say at a Funeral

Remember not only to say the right thing at the right place, but even more difficult, to leave the wrong thing unsaid in a tempting moment. ~ Benjamin Franklin

A reader writes: I don’t know why I’m so incapable of saying the right thing at the right time, but for some reason I seem to put my foot in my mouth and make a lot of ridiculous comments. I decided to go to the funeral of a man I knew through a church activity group. He passed away last Sunday and his last rites were performed yesterday. I could only think of my mother and I was crying for the loss of my mother as much as I was crying for the loss of this friend. I felt sorry for his family and I could see that they were going through the same things that happened three months ago when my mother passed away.

For what I am very embarrassed about and just want to kick my face, when I went to the viewing room the lady’s husband was there. He just seemed so lost and I asked him if he was her husband. he said yes. Then I looked at the woman in her coffin and said, “Oh, she looks so beautiful, as good as a man in his position can be.” I couldn’t believe I said that. The man looked at me like, “What????” And at that moment I felt so incredibly stupid and out of place. I couldn’t find any words that made sense, and because I was crying for the loss of my mother, I thought I should leave the house. I came all the way home and just sat and cried and then took a few deep breaths and decided to go back in time for the service.

Like my mother’s funeral, there were only a few people other than this woman’s family who showed up. I went to the funeral to support the family because I knew how hurt I felt that so few people outside of my own family came to my mother’s funeral and I wanted to be there for these people. But it saddened me to see how so few people showed up. Then my stupid mouth and the stupidest thing I said.

I don’t know if it’s a trend that no one shows up for funerals unless they’re related or very close friends or what. My mom had so many friends (or so we all thought) but so few showed up because it was Mother’s Day weekend and no one could take the time to show our family support for our loss. My mom used to write 500-600 Christmas cards every year until she was able to and so many people said how much they loved her and looked forward to those cards when she was alive, from people other than family His last rites came with full hands. It really hurt. I believe the spirits of the dead are at their funerals and I kept thinking how sad my mother was that so few people came to say goodbye. I wanted this woman to know that I cared about her and didn’t want to be one of those people who didn’t want to take a moment for a funeral because I was “too busy.”

However, I was very surprised when I saw the hearse outside the church. I had to prepare myself before going inside. I think it is too early to attend another funeral after my mother’s. I don’t know With my inability to say anything that didn’t make me sound like an idiot and feel “out of place,” I wonder if leaving was the right thing to do. ,

my reaction: My dear, I hope with all my heart that you find a way to forgive yourself for being human. Clearly your heart was in the right place and your intentions were admirable and pure. In the end, that’s what matters. I think it was extremely thoughtful, kind, and noble of you to pay your respects by attending this person’s funeral, especially considering how close you are to your mother’s death, as it was a major one for you. The trigger can be (and turns out to be) ~ a painful reminder of your own personal loss.

As regards the remarks made to the husband of this lady, please consider the circumstances and recognize the state of mind you were in at that time. If you find that along the way you feel unable to let it go, consider writing the husband a note explaining how you felt about the statement you made at the funeral, and an apology. Ask for Since you both bonded over the common experience of loss and grief, I think he’ll understand.

Afterword: It is quite possible that he does not remember what I said. I can’t remember anything that anyone said when my mother died and when she saw her body. I remember most of those who were there but what no one said except the statement “I’m sorry for your loss”. Everything else is a blur. I just feel so stupid. However, I will do my best to continue going to people’s funerals. Although I think I will say nothing but my condolences. I’ll never forget it, but I’m going to try not to let it hurt me as much as it does now. I’m feeling very stupid at this point. Maybe sometimes I can just look back and attest to what you said, that I still grieve for my mother. I wonder if I’ll ever stop mourning his death.

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