Visitations allow all those in the life of someone who has passed away to show their respects, say goodbye and offer support. However, the mix of people who gather in grief can vary greatly - from family and friends to co-workers and neighbors to mere acquaintances who may know the deceased or someone else who is grieving the loss, but whom you don’t know yourself.
Understandably, it can be hard to know what to talk about with such a diverse group, especially in a time of sorrow. At Sytsema, we want to help you feel comfortable attending visitations, as they are such an important part of the grieving process. So, here are some conversation starters to help your experience be as positive as possible:
- When meeting a person for the first time, ask how he or she knows the deceased. This often prompts a story which is a great way to make a connection.
- See if others have memories to share. Talking about special moments spent together with the deceased is a wonderful way to celebrate the life lost and helps with healing and grief, not just keeping the conversation going.
- If there are pictures displayed, you can reference one and it may lead to discussions about other pictures and the stories behind them.
- If speaking to bereaved family members, simply saying you are sorry for their loss may seem cliche, but it is a simple yet comforting statement and lets them know you care. You can also offer to help in some way which is typically appreciated.
- Talking about the weather is an old standby and can lead to other conversations such as where people are from, vacations planned or taken, and perhaps even stories related to the person who has passed away. Other common topics include what people do for a living, hobbies, pets and children.
- Simply introducing yourself to someone new, or asking an old friend or relative you haven’t seen in a while how they have been, can kick start a conversation and allow you to catch up with those you know and learn more about those you don’t.
If you’d rather not be so bold, it’s okay. Let others approach you and start conversations. It’s also perfectly fine not to say anything at all if you choose. Some may appreciate a listening ear or a simple hello and that’s it. The important thing is that you are there.
We hope these suggestions help you to feel less anxious about visitations so you can take full advantage of this special time to grieve together. If you have any other need for help, please don’t hesitate to contact our caring staff. You can reach us at 616-842-6100 in Grand Haven, or 231-726-5210 in Muskegon.