facebook twitter instagram linkedin google youtube vimeo tumblr yelp rss email podcast blog external search
%POST_TITLE% Thumbnail

Managing Family Dysfunction--After Death

Life Lessons

Note…there are two great resources in this blog…..

A griever’s family dynamic can encompass a wide range of feelings, topics, emotions and actions.  The basis of the family dynamic depends on who passed away and possibly how they passed away.  Who was the person that died and what was their role in the family hierarchy?  Was the person:  Grandfather, Grandmother, Father, Mother, Brother, Sister or a Child?

I have learned that most families carry a level of homeostasis, even in dysfunction.  Everyone has their own role and this seems to stabilize the family dynamic.  When a family member dies, this stability is uprooted, and the dysfunction is clearly cast into light.

The basis for the grief can also depend on the relationship with the deceased.  The process of grief can depend on a lot of other things such as:   culture, race, religion, background, life experience, economic status, support and relationships with other family members.  The grief can also trigger normal behaviors such as: anxiety, shock, numbness, relief, emancipation, guilt, abandonment, fear, sadness and many more.

A griever’s family dynamic can also depend greatly on who controls the money.  I will utilize the example of a family in which the husband controls the money and suddenly passes away suddenly.  The husband has left a widow to now take on finances and continue raising the family alone(while grieving)  is a cross no one should bear.  In this age of technology, the process of engaging both husband and wife has been far easier.  No matter who controls the money or who engages in the “money talks” conversations, there should be a system in place as to which the non-engaged spouse, child, friend or other family member can get up to speed in a hurry so they can completely concentrate on picking up the pieces and regaining joy in life again.  

I was very fortunate that my parents allowed me to participate in their “money talks” as they were declining in health.  They also told me their final wishes.  This made my path to Life After Grief a lot easier because I did not have to completely pick up the pieces.  This also alleviated any guilt I may have felt based on decisions I may have questioned later.  The roadmap was in place and I just had to follow it.  This experience coupled with professional wisdom inadvertently provided me with tools  I use today with grieving families. 

However, after the passing of both of my parents everything was uprooted and family dysfunction reared its ugly head.  My experience is a gift for those I help.  I am including links to two very informative articles.  The first article is more of self help tool.  The second article is an informative roadmap to understand and deal with family dysfunction after a death.  

Here is a self help tool dealing with family dysfunction in a series of self-help steps. 

Step 1: Have a Purpose (Or Don’t)

Step 2: Attempt Some Discipline or Focus

Step 3: Set the Mood

Step 4: Decide a Delivery or Open Date

Step 5: Write It Out

Step 6: Put It in a Safe Place


Another great article that explains in detail How to Navigate Family Dysfunction. 

The article will answer questions like:

What is family dysfunction?

What triggers family dysfunction?

How long does it take to get over a death in the family?—p.s.   there is no timetable

Why do siblings grow apart after a parent dies?

Common conflicts that trigger familial issues.

Tips for dealing with family dysfunction

How do you cope with the death of a family member?

How does grief affect the family unit?


My advice is to understand that the process of grief is a journey of self-awareness, humility, acceptance and atonement.  I would also advise anyone grieving is to seek professional help to come to grips with your particular situation.  The best advice I can give is to let go of those things that are holding you back from grieving properly.  Every family has its difficulties, but I do know that forgiveness is a positive attribute that will surely help you through the process of grief no matter what family dynamic or dysfunction you face.   

I also use a very specific tool called Managing Expectations during client meetings.  I use this tool to ensure all family members are on the same page and can communicate effectively.  This tool is effective in discovering expectations of yourself as well as others.  The tool helps in discovery of who are the key role players, their roles and associated feelings as you move through the process.  I have found this tool very eye opening for the families in which it is used.   You will have to contact me to find out more specifics.