A piece of your heart died with your husband, but you’re struggling to grieve his death. You’re upset and distracted because you’re dealing with family problems after your husband’s funeral. You love your family and know they’re grieving, too…but the problems seem overwhelming and insurmountable.
Every family is unique, and so are the problems families face. In addition to dealing with emotional discussions and spiritual struggles after your husband’s funeral, you may be facing legal issues, financial problems, household questions, retirement decisions and practical concerns.
Your husband’s funeral was sad and stressful. Dealing with family problems — even months after the service — is painful and difficult. I am so sorry for your loss. The grief of losing the man you loved and lived with for years is deep, heavy, and real. I can only imagine how hard it is for you, and I’m glad you’re here.
In Comfort and Hope After Your Husband’s Unexpected Death I offer help for healing your heart and soul. This article is much more practical. Here, I offer three tips for dealing with family problems after your husband’s funeral. I also touch on the pain and disappointment of coping with unhappy, unhelpful, even deceptive family members.
I don’t know your situation and I can’t give financial, legal, or professional advice on how to deal with specific problems after a death in the family. Here you’ll find three tips for coping with disappointment and taking care of family business. I encourage you to call a financial advisor, lawyer, or trusted family friend for advice on specific issues.
3 Tips for Dealing With Family After Your Husband’s Funeral
In this article you’ll meet Tamar, a twice-widowed young woman. She had no children from either of her first two marriages. Her father-in-law Judah had promised to take care of her — and was in fact legally required to do so. But Judah broke his promise. He abandoned Tamar when she needed him most. Tamar couldn’t continue living with her own family; her problems grew, but so did her determination not to live as a poor childless widow.
This article is part of my She Blossoms Through the Bible project, and it’s inspired by Genesis 38.
1. Believe what you see, hear, and sense
Genesis 38 tells us the facts about Tamar’s two husbands (Judah’s sons) and Judah himself. Both of Tamar’s husbands, who were brothers, were somehow bad or unhealthy. They didn’t just cause family problems, they were called “evil” and struck to death by God. What Genesis 38 doesn’t tell us, however, is how Tamar felt about being chosen by Judah and forced to marry these two bad brothers, one right after the other. We don’t know if she was coping with loneliness after losing her husbands or secretly relieved when they died. We don’t know if back then the Israelites had funerals, family problems, or feuds between the clans or tribes. But we do know this: Tamar was a childless, vulnerable widow who had to face the facts and believe what her life was telling her. She had to deal with life — including family problems — after her husbands’ death.
Take a deep breath, and accept the family problems you are facing. It’s tempting to bury your head in the sand after your husband’s death and funeral! You want to escape the family fights and run away from the problems your children or your husband’s relatives are causing. Or, perhaps you yourself are causing family problems after your husband’s funeral. You feel hurt, angry, betrayed, destroyed, lost, overwhelmed. You feel like you can’t deal with life after your husband’s death. The problem is that you make it worse when you don’t accept reality. Instead of fighting, accept this season of your life. Take a deep, cleansing breath. Ask yourself what you’re refusing to see or believe about yourself and your family. Write through your feelings, talk to someone you trust.
2. Make a plan
Tamar’s strategy in Genesis 38:13-26 has been judged and criticized, but I think it was shrewd and courageous. She’d waited a long time for Judah to come through with what he promised and was legally required to do; she knew that he would betray her. Tamar had no other hope; as a Gentile, she didn’t trust the Lord God. So, she took care of business. Tamar figured out how to deal with family problems after her husband’s death — she created a plan that required grit, determination, intelligence, and courage. And Tamar succeeded! “She is more in the right than I,” said Judah in Genesis 38:26, “since I did not give her to my son Shelah.”
What small steps can you take to start dealing with the problems in your family? You don’t have to solve every crisis or manage every detail right away. Just take time to think. Consider, reflect, ponder, pray. Your husband’s death and funeral were terrible things to face; your body, mind, and spirit are still adjusting to your loss. You won’t find the solutions or create peace overnight, but you can start thinking about how to start healing broken family relationships. Create a plan with a trusted family friend or even a lawyer. You are a smart, brave woman who knows how to deal with family problems! You said goodbye to your husband at his funeral, but they didn’t bury you.
3. Choose to grow forward in a new season of life
Tamar gritted her teeth, squeezed her eyes shut, and focused on survival when she slept with Judah. He was her father-in-law, he betrayed her, and he forced her to marry his two bad sons (who were so evil that God killed them!). Tamar was smart, logical, persuasive, patient and calm in the midst of a huge emotional and personal crisis. She dealt with her family problems boldly; she didn’t let her husbands’ funerals be the death of her. Tamar was a widow with grit and strength, determination and intelligence. We are not called to be like Tamar or do what Tamar did! Rather, we can look at this strong woman of the Bible and marvel at how she survived. We can believe that if Tamar could create a successful plan for dealing with problems in that patriarchal era, we can take care of our own family problems today.
What do you need to grit your teeth and deal with? Maybe your children are causing family problems, or your husband’s funeral was a disaster. Maybe you’re discovering secrets about your husband — or you’re struggling with the idea of forgiving your husband for cheating while he was still alive. Maybe you’re facing health issues, financial bankruptcy, or a professional crisis. Whatever you are dealing with is painful and difficult…but it will pass. You are in a season of life that you didn’t choose or expect, but it won’t last forever. You can get through this — and the best way to deal with family problems after your husband’s funeral is to accept your life for what it is, create a plan, and keep moving forward.
Isolation and loneliness are two of the biggest struggles after a woman loses her husband. One of the best ways to take care of yourself is to connect with widows in the same seasons of life. When you’re lonely, read the comments of my She Blossoms readers at the end of Help and Hope for Living Alone After Your Husband’s Death.
Your thoughts — big and little — are welcome below.
With His love,
P.S. Are you struggling to make a decision or find the right path in your life? Read an Easy Way to Stop Overthinking God’s Will for Your Life.