Communication is purposeful or at least that’s the goal; talking for the pure sake of talking isn’t necessarily communicating.  That’s exactly why when I work with my clients we focus on communication preparation so they can achieve their outcome and get positive results.  This works extremely well when we can anticipate or predict the situation.

One exception is a funeral or knowing what to say to someone who has lost a loved one.  Having recently attended a wake, this struck me as an important topic for this post.  Let’s go back to having a purpose, as stated earlier.  When you’re at a funeral or speaking to the bereaved, the purpose is to provide comfort and offer it with sincerity.  With that in mind, I offer the following dos and don’ts:


-Express your condolences (preferably in person or via a sympathy card)

-Offer help and support, as needed

-Reflect on positive memories of the deceased

-Use your listening skills so the bereaved may express their loss


Say “Time heals all wounds.” (Comes across as insensitive.)

-Ask any questions about how the deceased died (Too intrusive.)

-Say “He’s better off now.” (Your opinion may not be shared.)

-Say “I know exactly what you’re going through.” (May not be appreciated.)

Of course given the personal nature of this topic, circumstances may vary. With these guidelines in mind however, you can approach this situation with greater confidence.

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