Is it Okay to Ban Someone from a Funeral?
Funeral planning is almost always fraught with overwhelming feelings. From grief and despair to the heavy responsibility of making funeral decisions, the emotions of funeral planning are often the most difficult part of the process to navigate. And this means that past grievances can make an appearance in a big way—sometimes even going so far as banning someone from attending the funeral.
Whether it is a specific case (if the person was somehow responsible for the death), or a more general family feud that gets in the way, it can be perfectly natural to not want an individual or group of individuals at the funeral. However, before you ban them or close the doors and prevent people from attending, you may want to ask yourself a few questions.
- Who are you protecting? Is your reason for banning the person from a funeral to prevent additional grief on the part of young children or close family members, or are you simply trying to make yourself more comfortable and in control? Is there a personal bias or conflicting belief system influencing your decision?
- Is it what the deceased would have wanted? Even though funerals are for the family, this is a time to honor the deceased. Would he or she have wanted to keep certain people away, or would the spirit of forgiveness have prevailed?
- Do others share your opinion? When we are in charge of planning (and paying for) a funeral, it is common to feel that the burden of decision-making is a one-man show. However, this is a perfect time to lean on others. Ask for input and advice.
- How will it affect the banned party’s grief? By denying someone access to a funeral, will you be contributing to their own struggle with grief in a way that could make the entire situation worse?
- Is there a way to timeshare the funeral? Although it might be additional work for the funeral planners, you could make arrangements for different parties to attend the funeral at different times. You can also hold a private ceremony ahead of time (or at the gravesite), but open a larger memorial service to all who want to attend.
- Will it add to the drama of the day? Keeping a mourner away from a funeral is often more troublesome than simply allowing them to attend quietly and on their own. Will it keep the peace to simply relax your restrictions?
You can also talk with your funeral director for more information. As professionals who see families at both their best and their worst, they might have insight into how to best handle this particular situation. Members of the clergy can also be a good resource during this time.
Banning someone from attending a funeral is not to be taken lightly—and it’s a decision that, once it is over, can never be undone. Make sure your motivations are pure before you do anything this drastic, and always consult with other relevant members of the family first.
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By Amy Johnson