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How to Face Complex Relationships at Funerals

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Funerals are a time for families and friends to gather to remember the deceased. However, not all of those associated with the departed may have perfect relationships with one another. For this reason, services can be awkward for those who carry negative feelings or have complex relationships with other guests.

Planning a Service in a Complex Family

Whether a family is rife with rivalries or opposing personalities, it is important to make sure that all voices are heard when planning the service. While spouses and parents may be the most directly related to the deceased, siblings and children may also want to lend their help and express their thoughts when planning a service.

To ensure that the funeral service remains about the deceased—and not the event itself—all involved parties are encouraged to schedule a meeting or conference call when discussing planning details. While opinions may differ, it is important that those close to the deceased are able to express these ideas. Remember, this is a time when family members need support from one another the most.

Guests should be given an equal opportunity to express their thoughts at a service; those who wish to share a reading, speak about the deceased or share kind words should be allowed a moment of time to do so.

Focus on the Deceased

If the deceased did not leave details on how a funeral was to be planned, there can be many conflicting ideas from close family members. When choosing clergy, catering, guests, music, readings and other elements of a service, try to focus on what the deceased would have wanted—not what you or others prefer.

When attending a service, it is also essential to focus on the memory of the deceased. This means that even though tensions may exist between you and other guests, it is best to set resentments aside. While complex matters may go unresolved, concentrating on the life of the deceased and your relationship with them is what matters most. When in doubt, keep the peace and act polite until a more appropriate time.

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