Do Say: “Whoa, where is Uncle Tony?”
Everyone will be saying this, so you’ll fit right in.

Don’t Say: “He’s in a better place now.”
Ordinarily, this would be a fine thing to say at a wake, but the context will make this land a little different. Yes, odds are, wherever his remains are now is a better place than this funeral home, which is rife with tension (because of the missing body). But right now, any speculation about where he is should be practical (e.g., “he could be in his truck”), not theoretical (e.g., “he is in a better place”).

Do Say: “Where was the last place you put him?”
Obviously, the answer will be the casket, but did anyone actually check the casket for clues? Sometimes, in times of chaos, someone needs to state the obvious to get things moving in the right direction.

Don’t Say: “Boy, I hope this turns out to be part of an elaborate scavenger hunt.”
Sure, a scavenger hunt would be fun—they always are, even if the rest of the family hates it when you organize them and refuses to participate. Working as a team toward a common goal would definitely help bring everyone together and take some of the edge off during this stressful time of mourning. But right now, it is best to just lay back and let things unfold naturally.

Do Say: “I’m so sorry for your loss.”
This works on two levels (the loss of the loved one / the loved one’s body). Plus, this works to reinforce the important framing that the body was simply lost, not stolen, by someone organizing a scavenger hunt.

Don’t Say: “I sure am HUNGRY.”
This isn’t going to be fun if you don’t let them figure out the next clue is by the six foot party sub on their own. You already gave them a hint about where to start, so take a step back now.

Do Say: “I think this is what Uncle Tony would’ve wanted.”
This shows you’re keeping your focus on Uncle Tony. Additionally, your statement can’t be disputed. Sure, Uncle Tony hated it when you organized these things in the past, but he also tripped over something (it doesn’t matter who or what) and fell out of a second-story window onto his head. Had he survived, there is a good chance his personality would be severely altered in unpredictable ways. Maybe he’d be into this very localized, somewhat macabre version of The Amazing Race you, or someone, has set up.

Don’t Say: “These are fun when Uncle Tony isn’t around to ruin the hunt.”
Sure, this scavenger hunt is fun. Everyone is finding clues left and right, but people cannot express their joy right now because of the grim nature of the hunt. Additionally, it’s not fair to blame Uncle Tony for ruining the last scavenger hunt. He didn’t purposefully fall out of the window as you were placing the final clues.

Do Say: “You found him! Boy, Uncle Tony, you were in the last place I would’ve looked.”
Once again, this shows you’re keeping your focus on the deceased by addressing him directly. Saying he was in the last place you would’ve looked also serves to keep suspicion off of you. If you were behind this scavenger hunt, as everyone suspects, you wouldn’t be surprised Uncle Tony’s body ended up being propped up in the driver’s seat of his truck with a pair of funny sunglasses on and a bumper sticker that says, “Please be patient, dead driver.”

Don’t Say: “They did a great job with the taxidermy. He looks just as good as the day he died.”
What are you doing? First, it’s not taxidermy when they do it to humans. Second, until now, no one had been able to place you at the scene the night Uncle Tony died. They thought he’d just fallen to his death. Nothing linked you to being there that night, crawling around on all fours, hiding clues in Uncle Tony’s room for the admittedly hastily assembled scavenger hunt you were planning to give him as a Christmas present. No one knows that, at the time, Uncle Tony had been looking at a new shirt he’d gotten as a gift in the mirror and slowly backpedaled to see the whole shirt. They aren’t aware he’d backed into you as you were crawling across the floor, tripping and flipping over your body like when you would table-top someone at a middle school dance and tumbling out of the loosely fastened, single-pane window in his bedroom before rolling off the roof and plummeting off the side of the house. Don’t lose focus. Don’t incriminate yourself now.

Do Say: “Boy, this whole thing sure has brought us closer as a family, hasn’t it?”
People may be frustrated, grieving, and angry, but no one can argue that scavenger hunts always bring people together—even if they’re now united against you.