Nothing like a funeral to tear a family apart.
My family may be the outlier. I'm doubting it, though. This sort of thing probably goes on in a good number of families.
Before my mom passed, the seven of us siblings revealed ourselves in actions and inactions regarding our care for her. The players in this sibling dramedy became defined:
The Giver: the sibling who sacrificed everything personal including job, lifestyle and personal time to care for my mom.
The Taker: the one who decided that since my mom was incapacitated, she wouldn't need this or that, so he took things from her house.
The Doer: the one who was always on call, took care of emergencies and details such as financial decisions.
The Avoider: the one who was in position to be on call and help, but avoided anything that would remotely cause him to be involved.
The Advisor: the one who always had an answer or solution for everything, even if he had no inclination to put such solutions into motion.
The Outsider: the one who visited and helped intermittently, and emitted the vibe that he helped more than he did.
The Pontificator: Always handy with, not necessarily advice, but a word to the wise. Decisions weren't his mastery, but had plenty of food for thought to offer.
Before the funeral, these bit actors' inclinations in the Todd family play were noticeable, but not pronounced because a five-year period can dilute involvement. But put it all in the compressed time-frame of a funeral, sprinkle in other elements such as being self-centered, alcoholic or controlling, and suddenly the saying "funerals are for the living" rings as clear as a funeral bell.
We all deal with grief in different ways, and it's important to remember that death can bring out the best in a family. Even so, there sure is a lot written on how it brings out the worst.
But going forward is the only direction now.
Sorting personal property. Photo albums. Retrieving appropriated items. Care for my sister. Money. Money. Money.
Cutting each other slack is the principal job. Grabbing at a piece of the estate is not. If all us siblings had a nickel for every time my mom exclaimed “Stop fighting with your brother!" then we'd have more than we need to fight for.
The fighting hasn't begun yet. But it will. That's a universal Todd truth.
I'm reading words of wisdom that say just because so-and-so tries something shady or thoughtless, I should try my best not to suddenly cloud everything this person does as shady or thoughtless. In other words, death and how it alters the family structure have an effect on us all, and it's not always a desired effect.
But not letting these behaviors override the 50+/- years of good things is the principal job.
Death is hard enough on the deceased. It shouldn't kill those left behind.
Alan Todd is co-publisher of the Ouray County Plaindealer. He can be reached at email@example.com.