How to Handle Family Conflict When Planning a Funeral: Guest Blog by Christine Gatuiria

This post was written by Christine Gatuiria, a professional freelance writer writing for businesses in the funeral and cremation industry.  Christine offers the following solutions to alleviate tension while planning a funeral.

How to Handle Family Conflict when Planning a Funeral

All families have good days and bad days, and it’s usually more apparent during significant family events like weddings and funerals. Dealing with family conflict can be especially difficult and not easy to cope with when friction erupts during a time of grief and loss.

Funeral planning is stressful enough, even without family feuding. It helps to understand why conflicts emerge and how best to deal with troubling situations. Here are some helpful tips on how to handle family conflict when planning a loved one’s funeral.

 Where Does Family Conflict Usually Start?

During a funeral, arguments and animosity usually stem from specific sources of disagreement, like:

  • Money - Funerals can be expensive, so this issue almost always boils down to who is responsible for paying funeral and burial costs. Often times, the person paying the final expenses may feel that they get to make all the decisions.
  • Final resting place - If the deceased didn’t specify their preferences, arguments can arise over the question of burial or cremation. Disagreements may occur over final resting places if they are to be buried, or what should happen to the cremated ashes after cremation.
  • Religious/Cultural/Family considerations - Would the deceased have wanted a traditional funeral service based on their religious principles, or is a celebration of life service more appropriate? Different spiritual and cultural beliefs need to be considered, which can be difficult when grief clouds family members’ judgement.
  • Grief - This emotion is a very personal one. Because we all mourn in our own way, misunderstandings can easily bubble up when one family member doesn’t like the way another person is expressing their grief. 

Compromise is Key

If the deceased didn’t leave behind a funeral plan documenting their final wishes, the task often falls upon the family to make the necessary arrangements. Unsurprisingly, families often disagree on funeral and burial details, like which type of service should be planned, who gets to say the eulogy, the location of the final resting place, and so on.

To avoid conflict, it’s important to compromise and make trade-offs in order to keep moving forward. There usually isn’t a lot of time to finalize funeral arrangements, so strive for cooperation and try to reach middle ground whenever possible. Consider using a mediator if there is a stalemate – a third party can often offer useful suggestions.  

Don't Bring Up the Past

Old grudges from the past shoudn't be brought up during the funeral planning process. Rehashing worn arguments and dwelling on hurt feelings takes up precious time and makes it incredibly difficult to plan a meaningful funeral. Family members with unresolved issues should settle their differences after the funeral, and even consider attending group therapy to move forward. There is a time and place for everything, and families should try to avoid conflict by focusing on the present and honoring their loved one accordingly.

Listen Respectfully

Conflict almost always crops up from poor communication. When a loved one dies, all family members should have an opportunity to give their input on the funeral planning process. You may not agree with another person’s ideas or suggestions, but it’s important to listen with respect and be open to different opinions.

Body language plays a massive role here, so make sure that you maintain eye contact, avoid making faces, and don’t interrupt when others are speaking.

Remain Positive

No matter how bad things get, always try to maintain a positive attitude. Funeral planning can be overwhelming and keeping track of all the details while simultaneously coping with grief is not an easy task. Try to rise above negativity and concentrate on paying your last respects to your loved one.

Keeping a positive attitude also sets a good example for family members and can help alleviate additional conflict after the funeral is over. 

Funeral Planning in Advance

One of the best ways to avoid family conflict during funeral planning is to pre-plan your own funeral. Making funeral arrangements in advance allows you to choose exactly what you want to happen after you die and is based only on your personal preferences.

Use The LastingMatters Organizer to document your personal information and all of your final wishes. This organizer is an easy-to-use resource and guide that helps you detail your personal information and directives in a way that can be shared with trusted family members and estate executors.

Getting your affairs in order and preparing for the end-of life process provides much-needed peace of mind for you and your family.


Christine Gatuiria is a professional freelance writer with over eight years of experience in copy writing and content creation. She writes engaging articles and blog posts for businesses in the funeral and cremation industry - see more of her work here: