Managing Family Conflict at the Funeral: Here’s How to Keep the Peace

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

It’s not uncommon for family disagreements to arise following the passing of a loved one.

Heightened emotions can lead to arguments as bereaved family members navigate through their grief. And if the departed left no documented final wishes, conflict becomes even more likely.

In the following article, we share five ways to handle disagreements when arranging funeral services for a loved one.

Compromise is key

There are more than 125 decisions to be made when planning a funeral. Not every family member will agree with every decision, so it’s important to accept that there will be differences of opinion. Common issues that may require compromise include:

  • Method of disposition (burial vs. cremation).
  • Budget
  • Service provider
  • Type of service (funeral, memorial, celebration of life, or none)
  • Location of the service (funeral home, church, or place of significance such as a park or restaurant)
  • Products (casket, cemetery plot, headstone, grave marker, urn, or vault)
  • Personalization options (cards, flowers, music, readings)
  • Religious and cultural considerations

As you begin planning, it is important to speak openly about your thoughts and feelings. It’s also essential that everyone involved gets a chance to share their ideas before finalizing the arrangements. Take a break if conversations get heated.

Create a plan

Keep everyone on the same page by creating a plan. As soon as possible, schedule a family meeting and make sure everyone involved can attend. Choose someone to draw up an agenda with a list of important topics to discuss, such as the ones listed above. Having a plan in place helps keep everyone focused on the task at hand rather than on distractions like decades-long grudges.

Share the responsibilities

Instead of one family member making all the decisions, share the responsibility of planning final arrangements. If your sister is passionate about personalizing the service, she can take the lead in creating memory displays and selecting floral arrangements. If another family member is deeply religious, let them incorporate special touches for a faith-filled service. Make sure everyone is involved in larger discussions like the final disposition method and budget to avoid arguments down the road.

Respect everyone’s grief journey

Everyone reacts to loss differently. In the throes of grief, it is not uncommon for people to act out or behave oddly. Focus on supporting your family members during this difficult time. Listen attentively and don’t interrupt while they’re speaking. Let them know you share their grief and that you respect their healing process.

Turn to your funeral director

While everyone probably has their idea of what their loved one would have wanted, it is important to determine the final arrangements as a family. If you are unable to agree, your funeral director can help. Funeral directors are experienced in mediation when there are differing opinions and preferences. In addition, they are knowledgeable about all aspects of funeral planning and can answer any questions you and your family may have.

If you need help resolving family conflict amid grief or wish to make final arrangements, please reach out to us anytime. Our compassionate funeral directors are always here to assist you.

About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 25 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has provided a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved ones. For more information about our funeral, cremation, memorial, repast, and grief counseling services, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at

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