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Family Matters: How to Avoid Conflict Through Communication When Planning a Funeral

Published: July 29, 2020

After the death of a loved one, emotions of the surviving family members are high. If the deceased did not pre-plan their funeral, the arrangements are left to the grieving family members, who often times, may not be readily available, may not live close by and may not know the exact wishes of the deceased. To work through this difficult situation, we’ve put together some pointers of how to work through this challenging time and come out stronger as a family.

Contact your Funeral Director. If your loved one did not leave behind their final wishes for funeral plans, and didn’t pre-plan their funeral, family members will be responsible for organizing their final arrangements. Your first phone call should be to a funeral director who will help guide you during the planning process. Funeral directors are experienced with being a mediator as you work with your family to finalize your decision.

Communicate effectively. As you begin to talk about funeral arrangements, try to make a plan on how and when things will be handled. It will help things come together smoother if a timeline of responsibility is created to follow along with. Include the whole family in making a plan for updates and continued communication.

Part of communicating effectively, not only involves what you say, but how you say it. Try not to make accusatory statements as you discuss plans. Focus on your own experiences and opinion instead of calling out and criticizing others. By using “I” statements instead of “You” statements in discussion, you will find proceedings to run more harmoniously.

Agree to disagree - understanding is key. It is important to recognize and identify that family members are going to have different of opinions when it comes to funeral arrangements. Some decisions that family members will need to compromise on include:

❖ Means of Disposition (Cremation or Casket Burial)

❖ Money - try to find a budget everyone is comfortable with and stick to it

❖ Service - What type of service and where it will be held

❖ Product - What type of urn/casket, headstones, etc.

❖ Personalization - Prayer cards, candles, floral arrangements and more

It’s OK to take a break. With differing opinions, things could get a bit heated. If this happens, everyone should step back for a bit to collect their thoughts and find some peace before communicating once again.

Be respectful. With grief, everyone copes differently. How you react in certain stressful situations may differ from how another family member manages. Listen to people’s suggestions with an open mind, trying not to interrupt; and hopefully this will encourage your other family members to follow suit. Sometimes we let our heightened emotions interfere with listening to those we love. Be calm and try to understand their perspective; with understanding and patience, peace will come.

Put aside past issues. Life is too short to hold grudges - especially if it’s with family members. Now is the time to come together peacefully to try to honor the life of your loved one and give them the dignity and respect that they deserve in carrying out their final wishes. 

Continue communicating after the funeral. Hopefully you are able to resolve issues as you work together to lay your loved one to rest. Try to continue this dialogue after the ceremony is over. Family is important, and as time goes on, they may be the only family you have left. Cherish the time you have with them, don’t regret things you didn’t get a chance to say, or memories you didn’t get a chance to make.

Plan for the future. Help your loved ones avoid having to go through the struggle of making decisions on your behalf when you’re no longer able to provide your input. By pre-planning your funeral, you leave behind peace of mind for your surviving family. There really is no greater gift! Pre-planning doesn’t have to include pre-paying for your services, but it can be beneficial to take care of the finances ahead of time.

The knowledgeable and caring staff at Raynor & D’Andrea are here to help. Call us anytime for a free consultation at (631) 472-0122 in Bayport or (631) 589-2345 in West Sayville. You can also download our Funeral Planning Guide online.

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