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Coping with Family Conflict After a Death

One family member pulling a tight rope to one end while another family members pulls the rope in the opposite direction. This represents how it can be before coping with family conflict after a death

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Following bereavement, grieving families can often fall out and argue over all sorts of different issues. Indeed, the conflict and falling out can begin before a loved one has died. Family members can argue among themselves and even with the dying loved one themselves. It’s helpful to understand how to cope with family conflict after a death, most especially because it is a time where everyone is processing their emotions in their own way.

This is more common than you might imagine. Most of us hope that families can come together when someone dies or is dying, but grief affects people in different ways. Death and its aftermath bring out the strongest emotions in people, and these can be pretty complex. 

A research study conducted in the United States based on evidence gathered from 2004 to 2019 showed that intra-family conflict occurs often, and it shows the harmful impact not only on the family dynamic but also on the person who is dying. In the US, it was reported that 57% of families admitted arguing with each other as a loved one was dying. About 42% of Japanese families reported the same. 

Conflict can increase significantly when end-of-life care is taken out of professional hands and moved into the home.

Common Sources of Conflict

End-of-life Care

Whether a person is in a hospital, a hospice, or at home, end-of-life care is always a delicate issue to discuss with their family. Even if they are not suffering from a life-limiting illness, there are still many areas they can discuss with their family members regarding what they wish to happen at the end of their lives.

If you are diagnosed with a terminal illness, it will help to let your family know well ahead of time what your wishes are for treatment options or withdrawal of care. You need to be completely honest and discuss your feelings; family members must also discuss their feelings. 

Family fights occur when family members often disagree on who is to provide care, where and how this is to be given, and who is responsible for making decisions on behalf of the person needing care when the time comes.

The Funeral

Family disagreements happen, particularly when a loved one dies suddenly, and no one in the family knows what the deceased’s wishes are. Families can find themselves arguing over what type of funeral to have, who is to be invited – and not invited – and who is to be responsible for organizing it and paying for it.

Money and Inheritance

As many family solicitors will no doubt confirm, the number one reason for family fallouts before and after bereavement is finances and inheritance issues. Research has shown that almost one-fifth of people in the UK have fallen out with a family member over their loved one’s estate and finances, and unfortunately, many of these conflicts never get resolved.

Even where there is little or no money in a deceased person’s estate, it is surprising how family members can argue over knick-knacks or who gets what. Sometimes, it is not actually about the money; instead, it is a way of remembering the one who has died and holding on to their memory.

It is natural for rivalries between siblings and children to come to the surface before and after someone dies as emotions become raw and things are said and done, which only serve to cause added stress to an already stressful situation.

While these challenges can be alarming, there are some simple principles that can help:

  • It’s important to understand that this type of conflict is very normal and common in grief. You and your family can get through it, although it may feel rocky for a while.
  • It is important to remember that the only thing you can change is YOU. Try to focus on how you can cope best with how people are behaving rather than trying to change how they are behaving.
  • Be committed to your own healing and getting your needs met. Trying to engage in a difficult situation when you are compromised can often make things worse.
  • If a relationship you value is being stretched, try to have compassion for the other person. They may also be hurting, and their perspective feels as legitimate to them as yours does to you.
  • Look outside of your family for grief support.

How to Avoid Emotional Arguments After Your Death – Plan Ahead

Planning what will happen at the end of your life is understandably a sensitive and emotional, sometimes painful, thing to do, so you must do this when the time feels right but also in good time and while you are of sound mind.

Take time initially to decide what is most important to you regarding your funeral. It could be helpful for you to look at how pre-planning your funeral can ease the situation for your loved ones and help them in their grief.

Pre-planned funerals, such as those offered at the Jeff Monreal Funeral Home, are becoming a popular choice for people who wish to have a degree of control over their end-of-life plans. Our specialists in funeral pre-planning can help you organize everything from start to finish, from creating a customized funeral just for you, to supporting the family through the whole process.

Talk the Family Through Your Wishes

It’s essential once you have decided to opt for a pre-planned funeral to gather the family together and discuss your wishes. Some families want to be involved in the planning process while others don’t, but it can be helpful for families to plan together. 

By talking through what you wish to happen, from what kind of funeral you want, whether you want a burial or cremation, whether the funeral is to have a religious or non-religious service, and all the other incidentals, your family is more likely to be reassured and is more likely to follow your wishes.

The Advantages of Using a Funeral Director for Planning

Knowing that you have received expert, independent help to tailor your funeral and create your legacy entirely can give you enormous peace of mind. Funeral Directors can even help you record your memories to leave for your loved ones. 

An Important Consideration: Having your wishes, personal contacts, and other information, such as essential documents, stored safely in one place at the Jeff Monreal Funeral Home under the care of the Funeral Director, Jeff Monreal, will give you complete control and security, safe in the knowledge that your loved ones will be relieved of the need to argue about funeral arrangements. Contact Jeff Monreal today.

Planning can also be a wise financial move as you can save your family thousands of dollars by fixing the costs involved at current prices.

A well-arranged funeral can help those who are left behind to move forward with the grieving process in the knowledge that everything you wished for yourself has been carried out and you will get the send-off you want. While your loved ones will undoubtedly grieve, this could give them the peace to pull together after your death rather than pulling apart.

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