When attending a solemn, serious event such as a funeral, one should be mindful of the fact that family and friends of the deceased are present all around. It is extremely important not to say anything that could offend or upset anyone who was close to the deceased or come off as inconsiderate.
Those who fall under the category of family and friends often have little trouble expressing genuine grief and sympathy in the presence of a lost loved one. However, there are instances where the person who has passed on is someone that a visitor did not see eye to eye with while they were living and may not show the same type of emotion as is expected at a funeral or a wake. Other funeral attendees may not have known the deceased at all and are just there for support of a grieving friend or spouse. For that person, it can be difficult to know just what to say to those that are grieving.
Don't Be Overly Sincere
It often seems like a good idea to be supportive of those who just experienced a loss, which is generally true, but the urge to be supportive sometimes results in saying things that strain the credibility of the source's true compassion. Phrases like "If there's anything I can do, don't hesitate to ask" or "I can't possibly tell you just how sorry I am for your loss" are often over-used and can come off as scripted and insincere especially when said by someone not particularly close to the deceased or their loved ones. A simple "I'm sorry for your loss" in a solemn but friendly tone is really all that is needed to show sympathy.
Don't Try To Be The One To Lighten The Mood
At such a depressing event as a funeral it can be tempting to want to lighten things up to take people's minds off of the tragic event that has unfolded. This isn't always a terrible idea if one knows who's mood they are attempting to lighten and how to go about doing so. Telling dirty jokes or chuckling loudly while sharing an inappropriate anecdote are almost never acceptable ways to break the ice in this situation. It's very easy to offend someone this way. Instead try bringing up a positive story about the person being mourned or even someone in their family. If at some point the conversation naturally terms humorous it's important to keep laughs to a quiet minimum and not disturb those around not sharing in the discussion. If one doesn't know the deceased, it's better often that they keep to them self.
Don't Make A Scene
If a person is not close to the family or friends and has no strong ties to the dearly departed, it is almost always improper to make any sort of speech. There may be an exception if possibly the person just lost a relative or friend of their own and is truly compelled to say a few words but even this should be kept very brief. Eulogies are primarily for the family to share their last thoughts and feelings directed towards their lost loved one. The only one who should really speak besides family and friends is the residing religious official appointed by the grieving family (if one is present).
When you are notified that someone has passed away, it's natural to want to give a gift to the deceased's family in their time of grief, but make sure you follow proper funeral gift etiquette.
According to proper funeral etiquette, thank you notes should go to anyone who sends a card, flowers or gift to the family. A sincere note will show your friends, family and associates that you appreciate their expressions of support.