The destabilizing influence that grief can exert on a family should never be underestimated. Particularly when a dominant older figure dies, the entire family’s equilibrium can be severely disrupted. Relationships can be strained as the grieving family members struggle to establish a new balance.
Strong bonds within a close-knit family won’t necessarily make the realignment easier; in fact, it may be more difficult to attain. It is important to try not to let heightened emotions lead to harsh words being spoken that may later be regretted. Sensitivity to everyone’s feelings is critical, and all the family members, including children, should be included as much as possible in decisions and arrangements. Families brought close together in the extraordinary time around a death can easily be flung apart by the anxiety and stress of the aftermath.
A trained grief counselor can work with the family members, both alone and as a group, to help them work through their grief and learn to reorganize so as to preserve the family bonds while accepting the changed dynamic and regaining their lives’ momentum.