How to Help a Friend Whose Family Is Arguing After the Mom's Death

Be available to listen when your friend is grieving.
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Arguing with family members after a loved one’s death, although common, makes the grieving process more difficult. Turning to friends during times of grief can provide an objective perspective on the situation. Being a sounding board for your friend during her loss helps her process the strained relationships with her loved ones and determine the right way to respond.

1 Remain Objective

Remaining objective during family squabbles after the death of a mother may be the best gift you can give your friend. This nonjudgmental approach gives her someone to turn to when she needs to vent, get angry or simply talk about her feelings. Helping her see other family members’ points of view while supporting and understanding her needs is a delicate balancing act. But providing this “outsider” perspective can calm what could become an explosive situation. The University of Texas at Austin Counseling and Mental Health Center recommends asking your friend how she is feeling, sitting with her when she needs to talk and being available to her as often as you can as she copes with her new normal.

2 Listen Well

Being a good listener is an important part of helping your friend deal with family issues after the loss of her mother. Making eye contact, letting her fully feel her emotions and talk about them, and using body language that makes her feel comfortable opening up are all ways to encourage her to talk to you. Sometimes just being present and in the moment with her are as important as giving advice or offering your opinion. She will let you know if and when she needs an opinion on how best to proceed with her family members. Often, just getting out the anger and frustration with someone who will listen is enough to help her gain some perspective and know what steps to take. recommends letting your friend know it is OK to grieve in front of you and that she is free to express her feelings without fear of being judged or criticized.

3 Categorize Conflict

Help your friend determine the source of the conflict when family members are arguing after the death of their mother. Conflict can arise from many different places and can even come from old childhood wounds or rivalries. reminds family members that the way they interact during a family crisis can be rooted in the way they communicated as children. When your friend recognizes these tendencies she is better able to change the way she responds to her family members during the grieving process.

4 The Heart of the Matter

Grief brings unique feelings for everyone involved in loss. Each person has a set of expectations as far as funeral planning, finances, final wishes and inheritance issues. Letting professionals such as funeral directors and attorneys answer questions about processes during this very difficult time can help family members avoid needless confrontation. Encourage your friend to enlist the right help to get family members’ questions answered rather than trying to figure things out on her own. This cuts down on tension and helps the family deal with difficult issues in productive ways. Mark Accetura for the American Association of Individual Investors website reminds families that their relationships with one another are the true gift. Talking to those who can best help families navigate these waters can preserve and strengthen relationships rather than tearing them apart.

Patti Richards has been a writer since 1990. She writes children’s books and articles on parenting, women's health and education. Her credits include San Diego Family Magazine, Metro Parent Magazine, Boys' Quest Magazine and many others. Richards has a Bachelor of Science in English/secondary education from Welch College.