My uncle passed away some years ago from cancer. It was sudden and very quick — no indication that he’d been feeling ill, and then three months from his diagnosis to his passing.
After the funeral, a woman who had at that time been a neighbor of my aunt and uncle for two, maybe three, years and hadn’t known them prior to that, said to my aunt that she’d always known there was something wrong with my uncle, she could tell he was ill ever since she met him. Understandably, my poor aunt was dreadfully upset, thinking she’d failed my uncle in some way by not seeing he was ill.
Fortunately, one of my cousins pointed out to my aunt that my uncle had a cataract operation about a month before the cancer was diagnosed, in preparation for which he’d had a complete medical workup, including full blood tests, and that had there been any indications of cancer at that time, they would have shown during the blood tests. I don’t know if signs of cancer would have been tested for or if my cousin was making it up as he went along to reassure his mother, but either way, at least it stopped her feeling guilty for the rest of her life that she’d somehow killed her husband by careless inattention.
Who says something like that at a funeral? Even if the neighbor had been right, which I doubt given that she was no medic, what was the point in saying it? What would it have achieved at that point? Why would she have wanted my dear, sweet, loving aunt to live with the crippling guilt that would have caused? People, please, when approaching mourners, route your words via your brain before allowing them to fall out your mouth. Think twice before saying anything, and if you’re nervous and don’t know what to say, then say nothing more than you’re sorry for their loss, and move away. It’s better to say something formulaic — or even nothing at all — than to cause such pain. 0731-18