If I am a part of a stepfamily but have a family of my own, am I under obligation to attend a stepfamily member’s funeral?
This is one question that, although quite complicated, you must have to deal with if you are a member of a stepfamily. It may be easy for some, but for others, it is much different. However, there are factors that may influence your decision when in a situation like this:
1. The kind of relationship you have with the one who died. If your attendance at the funeral may cause any hard and unkind feelings towards the dead or those who are living, it may be prudent not to go. Otherwise, you need to keep in mind that attending the funeral is a way of honoring the dead stepfamily member as well as showing respect for the living relatives.
2. Distance/proximity to your stepfamily. If you live close to members of your stepfamily, and it’s convenient for you to attend, do so. However, if distance becomes a hindrance to your presence in the event, make sure to do all that you can to convey your condolences.
3. Conflict in schedules. Your attendance in your stepfamily’s funeral would probably be welcome to your stepfamily’s relatives and would do you good one way or another in terms of your relationship to the deceased and to the relatives. But if the event happens in conflict with a previously-set engagement that cannot be altered or rescheduled, that is beyond your control and is understandable. Again, make sure to send your condolences by sending a card or a bunch of flowers, and by making sure the family knows your heart goes out to them and you deeply regret not being able to attend.
Make all possible efforts to attend if you can, if only to preserve or reminisce the good memories you had with the deceased stepfamily member. Otherwise, the best way to handle this kind of situation is to be completely sincere and to do the right things at the right time. There are no fixed rules on how to deal with the death of a stepfamily member nor stepfamily funeral etiquette. The bottom line here is you can honestly say to yourself that you have made the efforts to be at peace with everybody.
If you need advice regarding how your family can better cope with the demands of a stepfamily life, The Blended and Step Family Resource Center offers telephone coaching services to provide you with useful ways to positively handle a stepfamily relationship. Avail of our resources and let us help you discover the difference.