Death and the Dysfunctional Family

Death is a funny thing. I don’t mean funny as in ha ha. I mean is funny like peculiar. We’re all going to die. (Yea, like you didn’t know that) But how people deal with death is so different that it strikes me as odd.

You hear shrinks all the time saying how everyone deals with death differently, or how to be careful because you never know how someone is going to handle the loss of a loved one or friend. That’s all true. Not discounting it. But don’t you find it curious how people even in the same family handle it differently? Siblings deal with it completely different from each other. Parents deal with it different than their spouse. But what happens when you throw complete dysfunction into the middle of it? Chaos. Pure chaos.

I think in a “normal” family, these types of events tend to bring families closer. They lean on each other for support, they feel comfortable crying, reminiscing, even laughing about the past. I think the dysfunctional family has a way of drawing the worst out of each other. When you add alcohol to the mix, it’s a recipe for disaster. Complete chaos. And when everyone is fighting, or manipulating, or being a complete ass, where is the support that is needed to cope with the grief? Does it ever get dealt with properly?

I also wonder about how that event gets looked back on after time. Does the funeral become so tainted with the bad memories of what happened there that the person who passed away gets lost in the drama and chaos? Is that what you want to remember when you think back to that person? Or can you compartmentalize it or even try to forget the scene and only remember the person? I would like to think so, but I don’t know.

At this point though, I can only hope for the best in what is going to be a horrible situation and pray that everyone escapes relatively unscathed. And pray for peace….not just for the one who passed away but for the whole family as well.

6 thoughts on “Death and the Dysfunctional Family

  1. Grief over a loss is a peculiar thing. Even in close knit families- such as my own- there are people who pull away, who don’t want to engage in the remembrances, because they feel it is too painful. It happened with us. After Carissa died, one of my sisters pulled away from the family. She is normally quiet by nature, but this intensified it. She didn’t want to be hugged or drawn close to someone else who was crying. My brother, to this day, does not mention her name or go to her grave with anyone, even when invited. I try to have good memories of her funeral, of what people told me about her, but all I see in my mind’s eye is the same brother collapsing on the floor when we went in the first time to see her. It’s stark. Painful.

      • It’s OK. I guess I was just trying to say, that even to the most grounded, close knit family, grief, especially very sudden, can be jarring and can have unexpected results. I’m sure that in situations where you have dysfunction, it can intensify.

      • I agree completely. A grounded, close knit family can still grieve so differently. Throw dysfunction in there and it is intensified AND magnified. It’s a tricky line to walk to stay true to yourself, while allowing those around you to deal with it as they need to.

        In my “fixer” ways, I would want to make everything ok with everyone. Sadly, in this type of circumstance, the way to fix it is to leave that person alone. That’s very difficult for me.

  2. I am going to my father’s stepbrothers funeral. my father is in another state and is not going. he didn’t even think of sending flowers for the wake. I called him up to tell him I was going to buy them in his name, and he was going to pay me back. my husband is late from work so I am going alone. the dysfunction never ends. my deceased uncles’ wife is the only aunt who showed me she cared, that’s why I bought the floweres in my father’s name. I told him I am not going to do this for his other relatives who die. I am not looking forward to seeing my father’s step brother and sister. they will question me as to why my father is not there. I will tell them to call him up and ask him yourself!!

  3. Whew, I am really having a hard time with my two younger sisters, about not being around more when Mom and Dad were passing over. These are two sisters who are now in cahoots against me, blaming me, almost, for their deaths! I realize this was very hard for my youngest sis, to take them on nearly single-handedly, but she did have lots of her own family around to make it a bit easier and was being paid something to do it. She is mad partly because she had to quit her teaching job to do this, or this is what she says to me. Maybe she didn’t accept the help that was offered her, maybe she didn’t want to pay to have someone come in in her stead, I just don’t know all the details.

    I just know that I am going to be seen as “guilty” with a big “G” on my forehead, for the rest of my life, something like that. I don’t think my brother was in on this blaming, and he did help some, but had a very dependent wife to deal with at the time, and was working full-time as a pharmacist. Now his wife has alzheimers, and I bet my sisters don’t offer to help him, because she is his third wife, and has a large extended family, who could help. Barb got very close to my mom before she died, and was there visiting her some.

    I remember calling Connie, time and again, and asking if she wanted me to come home to help out, and she always said, “No, we’ll deal with it.” So now, I’m wondering if I heard her wrong, or because of my severe physical disabilities and some serious injuries and surgeries, I realized I just wasn’t able to take care of Mom and Dad, even if I’d gone home. We were living way out in Washington State at the time, I had a part-time job and was busy raising a teenager, and my hubby had a very serious administrative job as a Chairman for one of the largest departments on campus at a major university. So we just weren’t free to go home to Ohio at certain times.

    So I’m just hoping the Lord holds out and forgives me this grave instance in my life. My hubby, is fortunately very supportive of me. And my chocolate lab loves me too!

    Judy, away from home too many years. We now live much closer, and I was hoping to spend some real nice times with my family again, but this is evidently not going to happen. Sad, isn’t it???

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