What Kind of Funeral? Identifying and Resolving Family Conflicts

By Sofka, Carla J. | Generations, Summer 2004 | Go to article overview

What Kind of Funeral? Identifying and Resolving Family Conflicts


Sofka, Carla J., Generations


I recently reviewed a body of information about planning funerals (e.g., Funeral Directory, 2003; National Funeral Directors' Association, 2003). A frequent recommendation was to discuss options and document your wishes with a professional funeral director or estate planner. And, while many sources also cautioned readers to discuss their wishes with loved ones to prevent this information from being solely in the hands of a "stranger," it was equally common to find statements that noted the difficulties of raising this issue with those to whom one is personally close. Being a fan of Ogden Nash, I wondered if he had any words of wisdom to offer to people facing this challenging and important process. Consider:

One would be in less danger

From the wiles of a stranger

If one's own kin and kith

Were more fun to be with.

- Ogden Nash,

"Family Court"

"Fun" in the same discussion as "funeral"? Examples found in the popular press often portray quite the opposite. Consider this scenario from a "Dear Abby" column (Van Buren, 1997). "Devastated in Iowa" writes that because of a rift between her sister and her husband, her sister chose not to call her following the death of a beloved aunt. The aunt's funeral was held without "Devastated" even knowing of the death. She continues, "Abby, I could never do such a thing to anyone, and I don't understand how my sister could have been so cruel as to keep this from me. . . . Even if my sister had a problem with my husband, our aunt loved us both, and aren't her wishes the ones that should have been respected?"

We all know that dealing with issues having to do with a funeral following the death of a family member can be quite unpleasant and emotionally painful, particularly in cases of longstanding difficulties in relationships or differences of opinion about how to honor a person's life following the person's death. These situations raise a fundamental question: Who is a funeral for-the deceased or the living? Funerals serve multiple purposes that vary depending upon culture, spiritual or religious beliefs, other personal preferences, and much more (Pine, 1995; Corr, Nabe, and Corr, 2002; Kastenbaum, 2004; DeSpelder and Strickland, 2005). This article reviews factors that may contribute to differences of opinion about funerals and other commemorative rituals and suggests ways of working effectively with those who must plan these events for themselves or others.

INFLUENCES ON PREFERENCES AND PLANNING

Rando (1993) discusses three broad categories of influences on grief and mourning: psychological factors, physiological factors, and social factors, and how these are likely to influence an individual's thoughts about options for commemorating a death. Psychological factors include the qualities of the relationship with the deceased, characteristics of the deceased, and the roles that the deceased occupied in life. Characteristics of the death are also a strong influence. One of these is the "death surround" (Rando, 1993, p. 32), which refers to not only the cause of and reasons for a death, which may influence funeral options such as a public viewing, but also the degree of involvement of the mourners in the dying process if the death was not sudden. The degree of preparation for the death is significant. In the case of anticipated deaths, opportunities for the open discussion of wishes and desires of the person who is dying may be available. A sudden, untimely death may preclude such an opportunity.

Physiological factors include the decision maker's physical health and the degree to which the person is getting adequate rest and sleep, nutrition, and exercise. If these basic needs are not being met, resulting impairment of cognitive and emotional functioning could create additional challenges during an already difficult time.

In addition to the cultural, ethnic, and generational characteristics of the deceased and the mourners and their religious, philosophical, and spiritual beliefs, social factors also influence this process. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

What Kind of Funeral? Identifying and Resolving Family Conflicts
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.