SEO: What to say to family of recently deceased

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March 12, 2009 by 8junebugs

Someone got here looking for this, so I will oblige with what limited advice I can offer.

Good things to say:

“I’m so sorry.” Classic, simple, honest.

“I will miss him/her — he/she was always so nice/kind/funny.” Everyone likes to think their family member will be missed and fondly remembered.

“You know, I still laugh every time I remember [poignant story about you and the deceased].” These are fabulous, and the family will share them later and laugh in your honor. I will tell my kids how Mom cut off all of my old friend’s hair after a failed home perm and still left her pretty enough to attract her future husband.

“Your mom was just so proud of you.” I’ve never gotten tired of that one. I will miss hearing it.

Be honest. We squirmed when people ascribed characteristics to Mom that just weren’t part of her character, but we still chuckle about the guy who said, “she didn’t like me, and she let me know it.” Because that’s what she did.

Things you might want to keep to yourself:

“Cancer, huh? Well, that figures.” Self-explanatory.

“I know exactly how you feel.” You probably don’t and certainly shouldn’t presume to.

“I need the formula for my hair color/files for my taxes/recipe for the pie he made me last year.” Shut it. It’s not about you. If it’s important, ask about it later.


I’m the verbose type who tries to make people laugh during good times and bad. I write better than I talk and I frequently trip over my goddamn tongue when I try to say too much, so I am a huge fan of the “I’m so sorry” + hug formula.

Also? It’s okay if you don’t have anything to say. Just bring macaroni and cheese.


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