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Families In Crisis

View profile for Liz Headley
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Be you pro or anti Royalty, it certainly seems that our Royals have gone through their own difficult times of late. Life’s challenges can affect anyone, regardless of status or wealth and most of us will have to deal with one crisis or another throughout our lives.

Over the last few years, the Windsor family has faced a variety of difficulties, which, one could say, is an invitation to think they are as dysfunctional as the rest of us! There have been scandals, bereavements, breakdown in relationships, disparaging comments made publicly by one member of the Royal family about other members. One family member has relinquished royal duties and now lives abroad in a demonstration of their contempt and loss of relationship with some family members. More recently there have been statements about surgery, diagnoses and ongoing treatment for serious conditions.

Many of us have faced or will have to face similar situations, but for most, there is a choice of how much or little we want to share with others outside of the close family. The Royal family don’t have that luxury, so for them their grief, sadness, fear, anger, disappointment or embarrassment is very much in the public eye.

For most of the critical events that life presents us with, there is no training for how to manage the inevitable emotional responses. We have to improvise, using whatever internal resources we have available to us and rely on support and care from others to see us through difficult times.

I don’t think we can ever be prepared for loss, whatever form it takes, even if there have been signs that it is coming. Losing a loved one through bereavement can invite many different emotions and responses can vary enormously depending on the individual and the relationship they had with their loved one. Some individuals clearly demonstrate their emotions and are comfortable to speak about their grief. Others might hide their emotions away and not wish to speak about how they are feeling, and this can possibly invite others to think that they are hard-hearted or uncaring. Some use activity to manage their sadness and pain and can be found undertaking a whole variety of tasks to keep their minds occupied and distract them from dwelling on their distress. There is no wrong or right way to grieve, it will be a unique experience for all of those affected. Hopefully, they will seek the support and comfort most meaningful to them as and when they need it.

It is always sad if a bereavement is the catalyst to ignite or re-ignite family feuds. This can be the case sometimes and disgruntled family members can be fired up by decisions that need to be made after a person has passed away or the contents of a will. This can make a very difficult time even more stressful and upsetting. When families can find ways to work together, even when in really distressing circumstances, it can reduce tension and protect relationships.

When a family member is struggling with ill health and/or a recent diagnosis, it can be a testing time for those around them, maybe not knowing how best to support and care for them. Individuals can require very different responses in managing their health crises, so a willingness to listen to them and attempting to accommodate their needs can go a long way towards giving them the best support.

Separation and divorce can provoke quite extreme reactions in some families. Extended family members might be very shocked and saddened by news of a relationship breakdown. Other relatives might be more disapproving or judgemental of a couple’s decision to end their relationship, particularly if there are children involved. Those looking in on a relationship will inevitably only see part of the story and might have an opinion not knowing all the complexities.  In some cases, an objective view can be quite revealing. For example, sometimes controlling and coercive behaviours can be easier to recognise if you are not the recipient and I have spoken to many individuals who, post break-up, have had family and friends share their views with them, voicing how concerned they had been about the nature of the relationship.

The support of family and friends is crucial to the recovery from a relationship breakdown, and it might be more helpful not to voice too many opinions, unless requested, and just to offer kindness, empathy and understanding in the best ways that you can. The responses required of family might vary on a day-to-day basis, sometimes anger might have to be dealt with. On other occasions sadness or shame. If extended family can keep an open mind about reactions to relationship breakdown, it may be one of the most helpful things they can do.

In the main, those who come through Bretherton's doors needing legal expertise, will be going through their own crisis; be it separation and divorce, bereavement, ill health or catastrophic injury. Staff will be able to recognise how vulnerable these people are, the depth of their anxiety and be able to offer an appropriate approach to try and help in the best way they can.

For any individual seeking legal help from Brethertons, they can rest assured that they will receive a balanced, non-judgemental response. A supportive, confidential environment is offered with appropriate legal expertise and emotionally supportive services to those who require them. For any enquiries, please contact us. We have offices in BanburyBicester and Rugby, working with clients across Coventry and Warwickshire, the West Midlands, Oxfordshire and nationwide.