You are with someone with whom you share some history. Maybe it’s a brother, sister, or a childhood friend. You are talking about an event from the “old days” and you suddenly realize you all remember the event a little differently. Most of us have had this experience. Our relationships work in a similar fashion. The way we love, like the way we remember, is unique to each of us.
A man’s children know him as Dad. Each child knows and loves a slightly different Dad. His wife knows and loves him in yet a different way. A wife may know fears, strengths, hopes, and dreams children never saw. They all love, but in such different ways. Though not a bad thing, it can add to the stress a family experiences during a death and subsequent funeral planning.
So how do you preserve your family relationship and plan a funeral that provides comfort for each family member?
- Establish a common goal. For example: “We want a funeral that reflects Mom’s life, her love for us and our love for her.”
- Understand someone has the final say. This is usually the person who is financially and legally responsible.
- Agree to listen to each other. REALLY listen with purpose. Listen to understand a point of view, not with the singular intent of getting to the good part where you get to say what you want.
- Seek input from a variety of close family members or friends. Don’t forget the little ones. Ask them about grandma. What did they love to do with her? Do they have a special memory or story?
- Let go. Realize everything is not going to be as you would choose. Give a little or maybe even a lot.
- Ask for a time out when you need it. Your first reaction to someone’s idea may be tempered with a little time and thought.
- Use your questions: Tell me more about that? Why is ______ important to you?
- Take the advice of Stephen Covey from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,“Seek first to understand and then be understood.”
Emotions are raw when families are mourning a death. Tread lightly and be kind. Remember you may want to have Thanksgiving dinner with these people in a few months!