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How Should I Act Around My Boyfriend's Family if His Grandma Passed Away & I'm Going to the Funeral?

by Candice Coleman

Helping your boyfriend through the grief of losing his grandmother can be a long and painful process for everyone involved. It can also be anxiety-inducing if you plan to attend his grandmother's funeral. Discomfort is a common feeling for those faced with people in mourning. Preparing what you intend to say to each person ahead of time may ease your anxiety.

Meeting the Family

When attending a funeral with your boyfriend, you may not know everyone you meet. Ask your boyfriend to identify each of his relatives, and you can then approach them independently or together. You might introduce yourself by saying, "I'm Sarah, Jake's girlfriend; I'm so sorry about your loss." If the other person wishes to continue talking, you can share any memories of your boyfriend's grandmother or ask that person to share some of his.

Actions and Words

If you are well-acquainted with members of your boyfriend's family, showing physical affection or telling them that you love them can be appropriate, notes the Emily Post Institute. Telling the family how sorry you are should be your highest priority. If someone emphasizes how painful it is to talk about the death, it may be best not to share any memories of her or to ask the other person to share any memories. You may also want to extend offers of help, like offering to visit your boyfriend's grandfather after the funeral or drop off groceries.

What Not to Say

Maybe your boyfriend's grandma died after a long illness or it happened suddenly -- whatever the case, avoid putting a positive spin on her death. Saying that it was great that relatives had the chance to say good-bye, or that her death was quick, can undermine the family's grief. Though you may have experienced a similar loss in the past, avoid bringing up your loss or telling the family you know how they feel. Assumptions about the religious beliefs of his grandma or her family can also be painful.

Special Considerations

On the day of the funeral, your boyfriend's family may be scrambling to handle practical matters. Offering your help -- such as picking up or setting up food to feed funeral guests or driving guests home -- may be appreciated during this time. Keeping items like tissues or eye drops available for the grieving can also bring relief. Being around grieving people can be emotionally taxing, and sometimes you may be uncertain of what to say. If you feel too uncomfortable to say more, simply telling each person that you are sorry can be enough. Your presence at the funeral may be consolation enough for your boyfriend and his family.

About the Author

Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.

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