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Death of family members brings out the best and worst in how we act and react to bad news.

For those of us who are Baby Boomers, deaths in the family are becoming more and more routine. Cousins who never have time to come to family reunions or wedding celebrations are now gathering in Intensive Care Units and funeral homes. Siblings who argued over toys, now make decisions on how to divide heirlooms.

All of us will face death of loved ones at some time or another and yet we have no training on how to act and some may fall back on old patterns of behavior. Especially negative behavior from old wounds. If our experiences surrounded other deaths were uncomfortable, we will bring those same emotions and feelings into these situations.

Choose to Deal With Relatives in a Positive Way

Unfinished business from the past doesn’t simply disappear. If it is not dealt with, at least internally, it will resurface later in unexpected and troubling ways.

Don’t buy into the drama that some family members enjoy creating. Recognize that each person handles life and death differently. Do your best to honor the dead as well as the living, by making emotional choices that are wise for you, not knee-jerk reactions.

We can allow emotional triggers that push us back into being selfish, complaining and attention seeking children. Or, on the other hand, we can recognize an emotional trigger for what it is; simply a signal your subconscious is sending to your conscious mind. It can help us to think before reacting, and make a conscious choice to speak, act and offer comfort in a giving way.

Allow Grief to Bring Out Your Best

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross once said ” When you look back at the anguish, suffering, and traumas in your life, you’ll see that these are the periods of biggest growth. After a loss that brings you dreadfully painful moments, you are a different man, a different woman. Many years later, you will be able to look back and see the positive things–togetherness in your family, faith or whatever — that came out of your pain.”

Families are where we came from, but not necessarily where we are going. We are bound to those we love and those who love us by shared experiences as well as our individual perceptions. It is important for us to be in a place where we join other family members to remember the good times and able to celebrate this passing of a loved one into the next plane of existence.

So, when the phone rings in the middle of night and it is news of the aunt, cousin, brother or other close family member who is dying or has died, know that you have a choice. This trial or suffering or sorrow is an opportunity for you to grow closer to the rest of the family.

It is a chance to reunite, forgive and let go of old wounds. It is a chance to allow your best side to show. Let this be your final gift to your loved one.

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