Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Funerals and Family Dynamics

Speaking generally, funeral preparation is a fascinating time to observe family dynamics at work, and to especially see the ways that dysfunction plays out through generations of a family system. You can see why the son of these parents married this person, and how their children ended up as they did. You can see why these two people were drawn to each other, even if the motivation appears to be to get as far away from family as possible.

This isn't really a surprise. Take a system, throw in a radical and permanent change to that system, and add a forced sense of proximity to other family members. Oh, and social pressures to behave in a certain fashion.

Unfortunately, it's also a terribly tragic time of loss for the family, and often for the whole community. To think only about the system is destructive and heartless; but to fail to think about the system is short-sighted and ultimately ineffective.

The bottom line is: families are complicated, and funerals bring this into high relief. HIGH relief.

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