It can be difficult to say the right words at a funeral when you know someone is mourning the loss of a loved one. You may wish to convey sympathy and support, but your words could come out and be perceived as the complete opposite.
Below, we discuss some common phrases that may seem like great things to say at a funeral, but should be avoided.
I know exactly how you feel
You may have lost a loved one before, but you should avoid saying “I know exactly how you feel” to someone who is grieving. This is because even though you may be familiar with loss and grief, no two experiences are exactly the same. You may understand the grief, but you really don’t know “exactly how they feel.” Instead, simply say something like “I am sorry for your loss.”
They are in a better place now
When someone has lost a loved one, don’t ever say “They are in a better place now.” This is because the person who is mourning believes the best place for their loved one is next to them, healthy, happy and alive.
You will feel better in time
It is often said that time heals all wounds, but when you're mourning the death of a loved one, this is not a very comforting thought. Loss can be overwhelming, and often, people don’t want to let go while they are still in the grieving stage. So instead of saying “you will feel better in time,” say something like “take your own time to heal and be gentle with yourself.”
You need to stay strong
At a funeral, the family and close friends of the deceased do not need to hear that they “have to be strong.” They need time and space to process the loss, to let all their emotions out, and grieve in a healthy manner instead of repressing their emotions just to put on a brave face.
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Many funeral ceremonies end with family members, relatives and close friends of the deceased throwing a handful of dirt or soil on the coffin. This is a common practice that can be found across cultures, but what does this signify?
Before leaving the cemetery, the deceased’s loved ones may toss a handful of dirt or soil on the coffin. Put simply, this is to symbolize that the deceased has returned to where he came from – man comes from the earth, and so must he return to earth. Usually, a spouse or a close family member will be the first to throw dirt on the coffin, followed by others who were close to them.
While it may be easy to believe the significance of this practice is religious, that is not always the case. It is a great way of showing solidarity during times of mourning. Engaging in a common ritual such as this allows people to come together and lean on each other for support during tough times. Throwing dirt on the coffin also allows those present for the funeral to fully commit themselves to the service and understand the depth and meaning that such rituals hold.
Throwing dirt on coffin in Christian culture
During a Christian burial, while dirt is being thrown on the coffin, the priest or whoever is officiating the funeral service often says the phrase “ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” This means that at death, the soul is released from the body, leaving the body to turn to dust.
Moreover, throwing soil on the coffin also symbolizes that the deceased has gone to their final resting place – the earth. It is widely believed that this ritual is inspired by the early Egyptian’s practice of placing sand on the body of the deceased before they were buried.
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One question that many people have had is whether attending the funeral of their ex-spouse or ex-partner is the right call. This depends on a number of factors. Although making this decision can be quite tricky, there are certain considerations you should make before you decide to attend or not attend.
For starters, if you and your ex-spouse or partner parted ways on good terms and you still kept in touch with them and/or their family after the split, there isn’t any reason why it should be inappropriate for you to go. They were once among the most important people in your life who helped you shape who you are now, and you deserve the chance to say goodbye. On the other hand, if you had a contentious split or divorce, you should probably expect a different experience.
It is important to remember that your presence should be welcomed by the family members of the deceased. If you did not split on the best terms, there is a possibility that seeing you will only bring more pain and grief to the family members of the deceased. Moreover, even if you do attend the funeral, remember that you can’t sit with the family members because you are no longer family.
Another possible scenario is where you and your ex-spouse have children together. In such cases, it is critical that you are extremely mature about your emotions and put the needs of your kids first. Since you have a family with your ex-spouse, the dynamic has changed and there is more to consider. For instance, if you do decide to attend the funeral, it may not be the best idea to sit in the family section with your kids, because, technically, you are no longer family.
There is no direct answer as to whether you should or shouldn’t attend the funeral of your ex-spouse. It is all very contextual. What matters most is considering how the family will feel.
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Often people use the words “casket” and “coffin” interchangeably. The general population thinks that these two words mean the same thing. However, they are not. Those in the funeral industry know that even though these two are both burial boxes, they are not one and the same.
The number one difference between the two is their appearance. Caskets and coffins have different shapes. While a casket is rectangular in shape and usually has hinged bars on either side for carrying it, a coffin has six sides. A coffin is shaped in such a way that the top part is wider than the bottom.
Usually in the U.S, most families use caskets for funerals. Burial boxes specifically designed to contain a person’s deceased body, caskets are used for viewing the body during a funeral. After the funeral service, the casket is lowered into the ground for burial.
However, if the family of the deceased chooses cremation over burial, caskets are only used solely for the purpose of viewing the body or visitation during the funeral service.
Coffins are also used for viewing, visitations and burial. But, as mentioned before, their shapes are distinctively different from caskets. Coffins were most commonly used during the 19th and 20th centuries in funeral services.
Another important difference between the two is that they have different pricing. In most cases, coffins tend to be cheaper than caskets. This is because they require less wood (or any other material) when they are made. Coffins are shaped wider at the top and narrower at the bottom so they can match the human body shape without having to waste any material. Understandably, they are often more cost-effective than caskets, which use up more material.
Both caskets and coffins are appropriate for funeral services and there are no restrictions on the use of either one.
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Matters of death and the afterlife have always been considered topics to be avoided. However, these are part of life and should be spoken about openly. What makes these topics even more interesting is that different religions across the world have different beliefs about them. Let us take a look at some of these beliefs:
While beliefs about the afterlife can vary slightly depending on which denomination of Christianity you belong to, most believe that your life on Earth and whether you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord determine whether you end up in heaven or hell. However, in Catholicism, people believe in the presence of a Purgatory, where people who are destined to go to heaven are purified from their sins.
Buddhists believe that after someone dies, they get reincarnated, completing the cycle of life, death and rebirth. In other words, Buddhists believe that after death, they take on another body in the next life. The ultimate goal is to achieve Nirvana or enlightenment so that they can escape reincarnation.
Hinduism preaches that the soul gets reincarnated into a new life form, depending on your actions in your previous life. Hindus believe that you can even get reincarnated in your next life as animals, plants and insects, and not necessarily humans. Similar to Buddhism, the ultimate goal is to escape the cycle of reincarnation and achieve Moksha.
In Islam, people believe that the after death, the journey of our physical bodies on Earth stop. However, the soul continues to live on, as it goes to the Angel of Death, where it waits for Judgement Day. They believe that when the world ends, Allah will resurrect everyone to judge them for their life on Earth and determine if they should go to heaven or hell.
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