This is a tough topic for many reasons. If you’ve never lost someone close (as I had not until this past February), it’s hard to empathize with someone who has lost their loved one. For one thing, you feel like anything that you say is never enough to quench the grief– and yet that’s what you want to do. You want to take away the hurt, to provide comfort, but the absense cannot be replaced with meer words.
If the person did not know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, then there is not much hope that you can give– though you can provide comfort to those that remain through hugs, tears and shared memories. If they did, then you can encourage them that they have gone to a better place, and be thankful that they are no longer in pain.
The biggest impact I think that you can have in the family who has lost a loved one is in your follow up. Many people will show up to the funeral, and many people will remember the lost loved one the week after, but do you remember the anniversaries that the loved one will have that they will no longer be able to share? How about the departed’s birthday or any special occasion that would be marked with the person’s presence.
You see, the greatest impact you can have on a family member is through your support when everyone else forgets.