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

Leave a comment
Please enter the numbers and letters you see in the image. Note that the case of the letters entered matters.


Please wait

Previous Posts

The Black Community & Mental Health: A Reflection on our Progress and 3 Things To Promote Wellness

During Black History Month, we celebrate African Americans and the role they have played in building this country, as well as recognize their achievements. The culture in the Black community is st...

How Much Do You Know About Black History Month? Check Out These Six Fascinating Facts

Black History Month celebrates the rich cultural heritage and accomplishments of Black Americans, who are an indelible part of our nation’s history. Every February, the United States honors the co...

Seven Proven Secrets to Staying Healthy When You’re Surrounded by Illness

When everyone around you is under the weather, staying healthy requires some extra effort. Upper respiratory infections like colds and flu are more common in the winter months when we’re all stayi...

Coffin or Casket: How to Determine Which One is Right for You

Funeral planning involves many details, and one of the most important is the choice of a coffin or casket. Although most people think these burial containers are the same, they actually have a num...

The Reception after the Funeral: Five Helpful Tips for a Memorable Event

If you are hosting a reception after the funeral of a loved one, consider ways to make it extraordinary and deeply personal. Families often host a reception or repast after the final farewell for ...

Seven Proven Tips for Calming Stress and Easing Anxiety

From minor trials to major crises, stress is a part of life. Finding effective ways to calm anxiety can transform your mood and your health. You can't always control your circumstances but you can...

New Year, New Purpose: 3 Tips To Consider For Your Mental Health Inventory

It’s 2023, and many of us are hopeful about the new year and all it has to bring.  COVID-19 has changed many of our lives, and we have begun to realize the importance of living in the moment...

Coins on a Headstone: Five Little-Known Facts About Grave Decorations

Have you ever seen letters, photos, or coins on a headstone? These traditional mementos represent a way to honor the departed. Honoring those who have passed on has always been an important aspect...

Have You Been Asked to be Pallbearer or Honorary Pallbearer? Four Important Things to Know

Consider it a tremendous honor if you have been asked to serve as a pallbearer or honorary pallbearer at a funeral. Being a pallbearer or honorary pallbearer means you will play an integral part i...

In Remembrance Of Our Loved Ones This Holiday Season

During the holidays, those grieving sometimes feel like they are in a time machine, feeling their emotions of loss as deeply as when it occurred.  Grief affects everyone differently, but one ...