Going through the visitation line at a funeral is overwhelming. Sometimes it’s the first time seeing the family since the death of your loved one. Seeing everyone so distraught is emotionally draining and can leave us feeling stymied when it’s our turn to meet the family in the visitation line. Prepare yourself to come face to face with the family of the departed by thinking about what you’re going to say ahead of time. Here are 5 sentiments to share with the family as you make your way through the visitation line.
1. I’m Sorry for Your Loss
If you can’t think of anything else to say in the visitation line, tell the family that you are sorry for their loss. It lets them know that you recognize their sadness instead of minimizing their grief. Saying things like, «at least he lived a long life,» or «at least you got to spend those final days with her,» is insensitive and shows that you truly don’t understand the magnitude of their loss. Tell the family that you’re sorry for their loss and if that’s all you can muster up the strength to say, give them a hug and leave it at that.
2. Share a Memory
As you make your way through the line, share a story about the departed with the family. Whether it’s a memory that you all share together or one that is unique to you and the departed. Hopefully it will lighten their spirits, even if for just a moment.
3. Share Your Favorite Thing About the Departed
Say something like, «I just loved how your mom always had a smile on her face.» Or, «your sister had a special way of lighting up a room, I sure will miss her.» Pointing out the great qualities of the departed will remind the family of what a great person they had in their lives and keep the memory alive.
4. What They Meant to You
Telling the family just how important the departed was to you will give them a sense of pride: To know that their father was a mentor to you, or their daughter taught you everything you know about cooking. Share your profound experience with the departed with the family to let them know how much you will miss having them in your life.
5. Bring a Photo or Keepsake to Share
If you have a special photo of the departed or something that reminds you of them, bring it to the visitation and share it with the family. It’s a physical reminder of the departed, and can even show the family their loved one at a stage in his or her life that they had never known.
So often people fail to give any thought to what they’re going to say during the visitation and end up unintentionally saying something hurtful or insensitive. Plan ahead and think about what you want to say so the words don’t come out wrong when you come through the visitation line.