Culture / Newsy

Keeping the Peace in a Feuding Family While Planning a Funeral: Complex Relationships Needn’t Stop You From Honoring a Loved One

BY Tripp Carter // 09.25.17

Unfortunately, families are not always neat and tidy. There are rivalries, disputes, and other issues that can make the family dynamic a complex one. You may have a close relationship with one sibling and barely speak with another.

However, when it comes time to honor the memory of someone who has passed, it is important that all relatives are able to put any issues aside and focus on celebrating the life of the deceased.

Navigating Lines of Communication During Funeral Planning

To keep any familial issues from detracting from the beauty of a memorial service or funeral, open communication is key. If one child has a certain vision for the funeral and yet the sister of the deceased has another idea in mind, it can cause tension. To ensure that all parties feel satisfied with how the funeral goes, make it a point to discuss issues pertaining to the service with those who were close to the person who has passed away.

Even if the family is scattered across the country, there are ways to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the funeral itself. Schedule a conference call or start an email thread where people can dialogue about the arrangements. This allows everyone to feel as if they are being heard, even if they are not in the same city as the rest of the members of the family.

To keep the process flowing smoothly, it is often wise to pick one person to spearhead the efforts. This individual should be in charge of assigning tasks and roles to other family members, and making sure that details do not slip through the cracks. This organizer keeps everyone on the same page, and makes sure that no one is forgotten.

In many cases, it is best to choose a relative who is in the same city as the deceased to fill this role, as they can get more actively involved with the arrangements.

To keep the peace and make sure everyone is equally represented during this time, the person spearheading the arrangements should find a way to incorporate other relatives into the funeral itself. Though they may not have the ability to pick out the casket and attend to other details, other members of the family can help to decide how the service itself will flow.

They may choose the readings or songs that will be performed at the funeral, and can help to make arrangements for family and friends who come in from out of town.

Keep it Equal

Tensions often arise among siblings when it comes to divvying up responsibility at the funeral. For many people, the service is a way for them to say a proper goodbye to their loved one, and is an extremely important time. For this reason, equality is necessary in order to prevent feelings from getting hurt.

If one member of the family gets to eulogize the deceased, the others should be given the opportunity to pay their respects in their own way. Perhaps they recite a poem or perform a song that the person who died loved. Allowing everyone the chance to contribute in their own unique way helps all of these people to grieve, and prevents them from feeling left out and hurt.

Though funerals are an emotional and stressful time for any family, it is important for all relatives to remain levelheaded and to communicate well. When those who loved the person get the chance to participate in commemorating their life, it is much easier for them to accept the person’s death.

Michael “Tripp” Carter is the co-founder of Houston’s most prominent funeral home, and an advocate for funeral services that provide warmth, support, and compassion for families during their time of bereavement. His Bradshaw-Carter funeral home exemplifies elegance and style, mirroring the sophistication of the services offered within. Carter champions beauty as an antidote to sorrow, and works to ensure that the funeral home provides support to all who need it — not just the city’s elite. Additionally, Carter is the author of “Ask Tripp,” a popular column that appears every Sunday in the Houston Chronicle. More information is available at

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