Mourning Etiquette

When a friend or family member loses someone significant in their life, it is obviously an extremely traumatic time.  It also very often feels uncomfortable for you since you aren’t always sure how to handle the situation for fear of upsetting your friend.

Having just experienced a tragedy in my own life, I thought it would be a good opportunity to show you how to help your mourning friends through their challenging time.

Below are a few tips to Mourning Etiquette:


Mourning Etiquette Tip 1 – Express Condolences:

When you see that person, express your condolences for the passing of their friend or family member.  Do not pretend like you don’t know or that everything is alright.  It is respectful to mention it.


Mourning Etiquette Tip 2 – Let them Speak:

Allow your friend to talk about that person with fondness.  I have seen with my own friends or family that when I mention the passing of my family member, people seem to look down or change the topic very quickly.  If you can see your friend would like to talk about it or even by virtue of the fact that they have brought it up, indicates that they would like to talk about it.  Help them feel comfortable in that moment by giving them space and time to reminisce.  Listen and comment on their stories with fondness.


Mourning Etiquette Tip 3 – Messages of Sympathy:

When sending messages of sympathy, ensure that they are in fact messages of sympathy.  A friend of mine sent a message saying, ‘I am so sorry to hear of your loss… but I’m sure this is going to be your best year yet!’  When one is in mourning, particularly in the first few days following the passing of their friend or relative, things are extremely sad and one wants to be allowed to feel sad.  In fact it can feel like the whole world is crushing down on you.  You do not want to hear that life is going to be great, because right then and there, there is nothing positive about the situation or your life.

Instead rather offer your sympathy, perhaps a beautiful memory you may have shared with the late friend/relative or simply that your thoughts and prayers are with them.  And if you say that your thoughts and prayers are with them, be sure to actually do that since I can certainly confirm that you can feel the support and love surrounding you.


Mourning Etiquette Tip 4 – Irrelevant Offers:

‘Let me know if I can help you with anything’ is an irrelevant comment. Very seldom will a person actually phone you out of the blue and say, ‘Can you pick up the kids, feed the dog, cook us something?” Instead, phone the person and say, “What can I do?”  Other little efforts that can help: send a food or care package, offer to come over and bring a meal, or even offer to go for a beautiful walk in the morning through a park or along the ocean.  Mornings or Evenings are often the hardest for people whom have lost their significant other.


Mourning Etiquette Tip 5 – Messages:

Little messages of support or follow ups further down the mourning process are always appreciated.  Often those mourning individuals are still grieving terribly, so remember to continue the support even months after the passing of that individual.

A time of mourning is never an easy time for anyone but implementing these mourning etiquette tips, are just a few suggestions that can help you help your friend or family member during one of the most challenging times in their life