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Mourning etiquette 101: The dos and don’ts of paying your respects

As lives continue to be lost to disasters and illnesses, many of us may be finding it hard to navigate the sensitive stages of grief.

Expressing condolences to a grieving friend or loved one can be tricky because you’re worried you’ll end up saying something wrong that could make the bereaved feel worse or even offended. What should you say? Should you give them a call or would messaging them be enough? It’s totally understandable if you feel lost about what you should do or say. So here’s a crash course on mourning etiquette to help you figure out what you should do if someone close to you loses a loved one. 

mourning condolences or grieving etiquette

What message to send / what to say to a grieving family 

When your grieving friend or loved one posts about the unfortunate event, you can comment on the post to express your condolences. But if you want a more personal approach, you can follow up with a call to check up on them and let them know that you’re there if they need help or simply someone to talk to during this difficult time. You can also directly message them saying “I’m here if you need anything” or “I’m here if you want to talk.”

Alternatively, if you knew the person who passed away, you can talk to your grieving friend or loved one about the good memories you had of the person or what you liked most about them. Sharing your good memories, anecdotes, and even compliments will help the bereaved grieve and remember fondly the person they lost.


Responding to people’s condolence messages 

“Sorry for your loss,” “My condolences” — these are messages that you might get a lot if you’ve recently lost a loved one. Usually a quick “thank you” is good enough of a response to these messages, but if you receive a bunch of them within a span of days it can become difficult to find the words to respond to them. 

Instead of just “Thank you,” you can also say something like “I appreciate your kind words”, or “Thanks for reaching out, it means a lot to me.” 


What NOT to do when someone is grieving 

It’s important to remember that when a friend or a loved one loses someone, the best you can do is offer your support so they can have someone to lean on during this difficult time. It’s not about you, so don’t ride on the unfortunate event and hog attention on social media because that’s inappropriate and insensitive to the bereaved. 

Another thing you shouldn’t do is refer to your own experiences with losing a loved one, because this undermines the grief that the bereaved are going through. Again, it’s not about you, so don’t empathize with the grieving party to the point that they’ll wind up feeling that you should be the one being consoled. 

When offering your condolences to the bereaved, avoid saying phrases like “It happened for the best” or “I can’t imagine what you’re going through.” Not only do these phrases sound cliche, they also sound cold and distant. 


One more important note: it’s important to respect the deceased. Even if you didn’t get along with them much, regardless of your personal opinion of the person you should still respect the dead. 

What’s most important is to be there for your friend or loved one when they lose someone. Reaching out and letting them know that they can lean on you for support can go a long way. 


Other POP! stories you might like:

If you haven’t yet, now’s probably the time to sort out your Personal Matters

RIP Maple: Acoustic Trench’s beloved musical dog passes away

Postcard reveals site of Van Gogh’s ‘farewell note in color’ before death

FB archive proves that Filipino cuisine is more than ‘puro vinegar and sugar’

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