AIBU to think the church minister has guilt tripped my husband regarding children at DFIL funeral

(86 Posts)
LeeLooLahLah Thu 23-Jan-14 23:20:59

Short summary: DFIL fought cancer for a long time and sadly passed away on Monday. DH and I have never mentioned taking our 6yr old twin boys to the funeral and after going to organise the service with his family we agreed the boys wouldn't be attending.

So today, DH goes to his Mums and the minister who is conducting the service is there. Cut to DH walking in and telling me that the minister thinks children should be there as it is proven to help them understand and cope with death so he wants them to go.

I was like; Erm, These are my children. She has never met them and she has never met me. How does she know I am not helping my DTs understand and cope in other ways? DH got annoyed because I said it sounded like she was trying to guilt trip him into bringing the children.

We are not religious and I have been very careful with the way I have worded answers about the whole cancer/death/cremation topic so I am confident my 6 year olds understand and can grieve. I do not want them to get confused by a lady standing there talking about God and stuff when it isn't something I can back up if they ask questions afterwards.
Plus, DH and I will be handling our own grief that day and I don't think it is fair on children to see Mummy and Daddy upset or else it's not fair on us if we feel we can't get upset because they are there, it'll hinder our ability to release our own feelings

AIBU to think this minister was trying to guilt trip my husband into bringing the children to "godwash" them or am I being a bit emotional and overprotective of my boys?
Should I take them to the funeral? This is so tough.

nickelbabe Fri 24-Jan-14 00:24:35

the part I have most umbridge with is that you don't want your children to see you upset.
wtaf? you do realise that by pretending you and your dh never get upset, you are effectively telling your cgildren that emotions are a bad thing and setting them up for a life time of emotional.issues don't you?

nickelbabe Fri 24-Jan-14 00:26:32

ffs it's spelt

nickelbabe Fri 24-Jan-14 00:26:55

itms spelt umbrage!

Gossipyfishwife Fri 24-Jan-14 02:36:20

Us Irish generally accept death as a normal part of life and would include children at funerals.

However you know your own children best. They will pick up on your vibes so if you are not comfortable, they may not be either.

Kafri Fri 24-Jan-14 03:00:13

I went to my DF funeral at 6 and was able to behave myself.
Looking back now im pleased my dm let me go. Yes I had limited understanding of what was happening but it was an important part of my life
I wasn't forced to go but it's a rite of passage that happens to all of us at some point.
Slightly different but my DS is 1 now and has been to 3 funerals - one my dm, his dgm. It wouldn't have entered my head to leave him with someone so I could grieve 'properly'. I wanted him there with me.

Eastpoint Fri 24-Jan-14 03:31:30

My DCs have been to funerals, starting with my mother's when they were 4, 6 & 7 and various great aunts & uncles. We are not a religious family and so the services have mainly been celebrating the deceased's life. By attending funerals they have heard how their relatives touched other people's lives and had strangers tell them their granny was a special person & why. My youngest did ask 'If Granny has died why are her slippers still here?' which still makes me laugh (she had died completely unexpectedly).

Mikkii Fri 24-Jan-14 03:50:42

My husband's uncle, who we were all close to died when DS was 6, DD1 was just 4 and DD2 was 5 months old.

DH is Spanish and wanted the children to attend the funeral, I thought they shouldn't attend. The funeral fell on a day the girls attended nursery, so they went as normal. DS wanted to go to the funeral, so he did. He managed fine at the funeral, but did find the full Catholic mass rather long (as he normally does). When the church service had finished we decided attending the crematorium would be too much for him, so we asked a friend not attending the family only part at the crematorium to take him for a couple of hours, he was taken by the friend to the wake, where his sisters also joined us.

Sadly, my beloved father in law died within a week of his brother's funeral. My son asked not to have to attend the church this time, but asked to be allowed to go to "the party" we thought this was a good compromise for our family.

Euphemia Fri 24-Jan-14 04:14:20

My dad died on Hogmanay and I gave DD (11) the choice of whether to attend the funeral. My grandad died when I was 15 and I was given no choice, not allowed to go.

DD decided she didn't feel ready for a funeral, and we talked a lot about it. She seemed relieved in the end to be told that no-one would think any less of her for not going. smile I feel happy that she came to her own decision. At least she had the choice.

Could you explain to your DCs what happens at a funeral, and let them decide?

BillyNotQuiteNoMates Fri 24-Jan-14 04:45:43

My grandfathers both died when I was 5/6 and I wasn't given the option of going to the funerals. I can honestly say that it has never preyed on my mind. When my uncle died (I was 11) again, I wasn't given the option and I was very upset about it. When I was 15 and my grandmother died, I had to really argue the case to be allowed to go, and I'm glad I did, although I don't remember an awful lot about it tbh.
When my Fil died, my Mil and Sil didn't want the children there - and tbh they weren't that bothered about going so I didn't insist. I think that children should be talked to about the funeral and what is happening, and their opinions taken on board, not necessarily adhered to. As they get older, they should be given the choice.

BillyNotQuiteNoMates Fri 24-Jan-14 04:46:56

And I also doubt that the vicar intended "godwashing" them. She has probably seen children who benefited from attending a funeral.

EmmaBemma Fri 24-Jan-14 05:23:31

She wasn't guilttripping, just expressing an opinion, from the perspective of someone who has no doubt seen a lot of children at funerals. Her role entails giving that sort of advice, I should think. And I'm not religious.

CrohnicallyFarting Fri 24-Jan-14 06:48:23

I went to my aunt's funeral aged around 8. However, in the church there was a kind of Sunday school for the children which we went to instead of attending the whole service. And at 8, I was able to appreciate that some people believed in god and some didn't and wasn't confused by any of it (might have helped that I attended a c of e school). I do remember standing by the graveside and I had drawn a picture for my aunt which went into the grave with her, would your boys like to do something like that?

I didn't take DD to her greatgrandma's funeral last year, she was only 1, but she did attend the scattering of the ashes. It was all completely over her head of course, but when she's older and she asks about her greatgrandma I'll be able to tell her about that, in the same way that you will be able to tell your sons about your own family ceremony if that's what you choose to do.

Morgause Fri 24-Jan-14 06:53:06

The tradition in our chapel in Wales is that children don't go to funerals. There is a memorial service a couple of months later that children went to. This worked very well for me as a child.

I carried it on for my children. I wanted to be able to concentrate on my (or DH's) grief not worry about them who were happily playing at the home of a friend.

Your children, your decision.

SanityClause Fri 24-Jan-14 07:00:30

I'm sorry about your DFIL. flowers

I think it's important to remember that the children are also your DH's, and given its his father, he perhaps should get the casting vote.

I was 14 when my DGF died, so older than your DTs. I do recall vividly how much it helped me to realise how many people cared so deeply about him. I saw and spoke to people I didn't even know, with tears rolling down their faces.

I was really moved by how much he meant to so many people.

ZillionChocolate Fri 24-Jan-14 07:01:18

My grandfather died when I was about 9 and my sister was 5. We went to the wake but not the funeral. I don't feel at all cheated. I think my mum has explained it to me and has I been desperate to go, she might have let me.

ithaka Fri 24-Jan-14 07:02:53

Sadly, we have had a number of funerals in my immediate family. How we have tended to handle it is that the children don't attend the service, but go to the wake. There is usually a more distant family member or friend who will entertain them through the service and meet us at the wake.

This works well as it means DH&I have space to grieve together and it is wonderful to see the children afterwards - it lifts everyone's spirits. The children are still part of the day and feel included and they get to see distant family - my youngest still remembers being at her grandad's funeral even though she wasn't actual present at the church bit.

Once they get to about 11-12 they have a choice whether to attend the service. At my dad's funeral last year my 11 & 15 year old attended the service in church but not the committal.

The minister was probably just trying to be inclusive, but you know your children and are best placed to make the decision.

Grennie Fri 24-Jan-14 07:03:28

My partner was not allowed to attend GF's funeral as a child. They were very close. My DP massively regrets this. Ask the children about whether they want to go.

WitchWay Fri 24-Jan-14 07:14:37

I was 8 when my Nana died, my brother 6 & we didn't go to the funeral. Looking back I wish I'd gone but it isn't a great source of regret. When my father died my son was almost 14 & he went - if he'd been younger I still would have taken him. Very small children (toddlers/babies) at a funeral often provide a little "light relief" from the grief & are tangible proof that life goes on.

CouthyMow Fri 24-Jan-14 07:15:58

As a person who didn't attend their own DF's funeral when they were 10yo, for very similar reasons that you are setting out, I would say that if they were close to your DFil, then please let them attend. A funeral is as important a form of closure to a child as it is for an adult. I will always be upset that I wasn't allowed to say my own goodbyes to my Dad.

TraceyTrickster Fri 24-Jan-14 07:21:11

I took my 5 year old to my mother's funeral- partly because I had no alternative care for her and partly because she knew nanny was ill and had died.
I told her I would be very upset and cry but that's what happens.
The god bit I explained with 'some people believe xxxx but I don't. You can decide what you believe as you grow up'.

She behaved wonderfully during the funeral and was a great comfort and knows now sometimes I am sad because I miss my mother.
For us taking her was absolutely the right thing.

WitchWay Fri 24-Jan-14 07:23:35

Tracey - good explanation of "the god bit"

DinoSnores Fri 24-Jan-14 07:30:11

I was very upset not to attend my great grandparents funerals, although I must have been a bit older, around 9 & 13 perhaps.

I think the vicar is trying to be helpful saying that your DH can pass her number on. She sounds like she wants to help support you if you want it.

CailinDana Fri 24-Jan-14 07:38:52

I wouldn't put it in such strong terms but I agree with Nickelbabe about not wanting your children to see you upset - that is not healthy. Emotions are normal, sadness at a death is totally normal and hiding it from your children as though it's something shameful is not wise. When my sister was very ill after she was born (I was 7) my parents tried to hide their worry and sadness. All that did was to make me feel scared and left out. Pretending you feel one thing while clearly feeling another is so confusing for a child. It just tells them they can't trust their own perception of things. They see Mummy and Daddy are upset but they say they're fine - so they conclude that's what they should also do. The only lesson is "Mummy and Daddy prefer not to talk about being upset." Not a great lesson.

SantasPelvicfloor Fri 24-Jan-14 07:40:22

I'm generally in support of children attending funerals as they are part of life. Hiding death from them doesn't make it go away nor does it stop them grieving. It stops you seeing them in that situation. That's all.

Godwashing at a funeral...if your child attended a Muslim ceremony would you feel they were being tainted or infected with it? It's incredibly paranoid. People have different faiths and want their spirituality to be part of their passing. Recognising that it's part of their belief and won't taint you is also healthy.

littlewhitebag Fri 24-Jan-14 07:40:26

My DD was 3 when her sister died age 5. We took her to the funeral party to see her dead sister so she could say goodbye and she and my niece who was 4 attended the funeral. They brought a real sense of joy to an otherwise horrendous day and she has often said how glad she was we allowed her to go to the funeral. She is now 21 and a very well adjusted young lady.

That said, they are your children and you know them best. Do what you think is right.

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