Community grieves after sudden death

Q: A short while ago, a man who played first base on our slo-pitch team was killed in a car accident. We are like brothers and sisters out there. We care about each other.

Our problem is that our friend’s family is not planning a funeral any time soon. He comes from a large family. His parents seem to have the upper hand in this thing and they have asked his wife to postpone the funeral until later in the summer. They are hoping that more of his family will be able to attend.

But that leaves those of us on his ball team sitting in the trench. We need some way to work this thing out and we were counting on the funeral to help us come to terms with the death of our friend.

Some players have suggested that we make our own memorial, kind of a community thing, to help us until his family organizes a funeral. I am not sure about this.

What do you think?

A: A memorial service might work, but I am concerned that you and your teammates are not going to get the satisfaction you seek from it. I suggest you don’t plan a memorial service without the support from his family. The last thing that your friend would want is dissension within the ranks of all those whom he loved.

No one can deny the pain and torture a family carries when it grieves a sudden death. Your friend’s parents are undoubtedly looking for their family to come together for support through their grief.

I wonder if by being too sensitive to the needs of the family, we do not forget that a whole community is out there searching for support as well. Your friend was young and still a vibrant member of the community and his community, in turn, deserves the opportunity to grieve and say goodbye to him.

I went through this when one of my sons died a couple of years ago.

The most beneficial process for everyone would be to have the funeral first, to acknowledge your friend’s community as well as his family who are able to be there, and to have a family memorial later on when the extended family is able to attend.

It is a bit of a two-way street where the community needs to support your friend’s family and your friend’s family needs to support the community. I am not sure that anyone has the right answer to your problem.

Jacklin Andrews is a family counsellor 
from Saskatchewan. Contact: [email protected]