to let her go to the funeral or wake?

(55 Posts)
MissMuesli Sun 20-Oct-13 15:41:30

I'm really not sure if I am being unreasonable on this one.

My DD is 2 1/2 years old, and I am separated from her dad. Sadly, there has been a death on his side of the family and the funeral is coming up- he wants to take DD.

I personally don't want him to at all, the person who has passed away is a distant cousin who my DD has never actually met, but he feels she should go as after all they are still family.

I also worry about how the day will emotionally impact my daughter. She is very good with speech and her cognitive ability is pretty good aswell. She defiantly is at an age in which she would notice and understand that people are sad and crying. That's not necessarily a bad thing I know, however I'm not sure she is at an age that she could understand even a simple explanation. I feel she would be thrust into an unknown environment with lots of adults upset which is something she hasn't witnessed before but without the ability to understand why or how to deal with it.

It's "my" day to have DD on that day, and I feel inclined to say it isn't appropriate, although I don't want to cause any more upset to my ex. Also, I do understand that children can help "lift" the atmosphere at funerals I'm not sure my DD should have the responsibility of that.

Am I being unreasonable? Please by kind..!

MissMuesli Sun 20-Oct-13 15:42:03

Ahh! Title should have said "To not let her go"

PedlarsSpanner Sun 20-Oct-13 15:43:33

Could a compromise be sought? DD goes to the after-event only for eg

Finola1step Sun 20-Oct-13 15:49:14

I wouldn't take a small child to a funeral. My dad passed away six months ago and even though he was very close to my children, my dc are only 2 and 5. No way were they going. Your dd is in your care on the day. Say no.

WhoNickedMyName Sun 20-Oct-13 15:52:37

My DH's niece who was 3 at the time was a total PITA at a family funeral, it's really not a place for young children. A good compromise could be that she can go along to the wake for an hour or so afterwards.

mrsjay Sun 20-Oct-13 15:55:23

I didnt take dds to their grandmas funeral although I regret not taking dd1 she was 9and we should have taken her but dd2 was only 4 and just out of toddler hood I dont think a funeral is a place for small children they dont understand you need to sit you need to be quiet and they don't understand coffins and sadness either I think the wake would be fine just not the service

FortyDoorsToNowhere Sun 20-Oct-13 15:55:28

If it was a member of your family and the funeral was on the day it was ex contact day how would you feel if he said no.

He is her parent just as much as you and can make decisions.

oldgrandmama Sun 20-Oct-13 15:55:35

Can't see why your ex should even want to take her? She doesn't know the dear departed and it doesn't sound as though your ex was that close to them anyway. Definitely UANBU - keep her with you.

CelticPromise Sun 20-Oct-13 15:58:01

I'd let her go. My mum died last year and I was just talking to DH this morning about how I'm glad DS (then just 3) was able to visit her in hospital, go to the funeral etc. I answered the questions he had and he took it in his stride. He understands that we can't see Gran anymore and that's why we are sad sometimes, and he understood the idea of a celebration to say goodbye. In my family, it is the done thing for children to be involved. DS had already been to a cousin's funeral aged 2ish and he didn't really ask questions about it. I think you have to be guided by what they want to know.

It must be tough if it is the done thing to take children on one side of the family and not the other. But I really don't think it does any harm.

ilovecolinfirth Sun 20-Oct-13 16:03:02

My husband stayed with our 2 and a half year old son when my grandmother died. It was too stressful an event for him to go to, however he did go to the reception afterwards, and he and his giggling 2 year old cousin brought some much-needed light relief.

MissMuesli Sun 20-Oct-13 16:03:06

"If it was a member of your family and the funeral was on the day it was ex contact day how would you feel if he said no"

It's hard because my experience of funerals are limited. I went to one where a family member had had a still birth. She sobbed until she was hysterical then literally had to be carried out. I hate to be so horrible, but the funeral service can go on without my daughter there (who didn't know the cousin- had not even ever met them) and as her parents it's her well being that I have to consider. I generally go by the rule that if it doesn't hurt her physically or emotionally then I leave ex to it, but I do genuinely believe this has the potential to upset and confuse her.

Also, to the member who said about a 3 year old being a PITA, my daughter would likely be that child. She comments on EVERYTHING, and that could either be really funny (and lift the mood) or really be inappropriate and cause more pain.

Can someone tell me more about what happens at wakes? The only one I went to (same family member) resulted in again hysterics and eventually very drunk. Maybe that would be option?

MissMuesli Sun 20-Oct-13 16:04:34

CelticPromise- I understand why it was maybe abit more appropriate in your case, but my daughter has never even met this person before, no relationship or recognition.

SamG76 Sun 20-Oct-13 16:05:09

Agree with IlCF. Our family rule is that the kids go to everything. They often end up as a comfort to the other mourners....

DoJo Sun 20-Oct-13 16:05:22

Could you offer to go with them and look after her, so that she would have someone with her who wasn't as involved in the grieving process and could take her out if she was upset/distressed without feeling as though they were missing out on saying goodbye? That would be a nice gesture to your ex and would enable you to maintain some kind of line between being a comfort to those grieving and getting upset herself.

MissMuesli Sun 20-Oct-13 16:06:55

DoJo, I definitely wouldn't be welcome, although I agree that would have been a suitable compromise if possible!

my experience (again limited but including 2 for young men definitely dying well before their time as well as my grandad who died aged 86) is that the funeral can be horribly upsetting if they have died young or sad but heartwarming if it was just their time. In all cases the wake was mostly a positive celebration of their life and a chance for family members who might not see each other often to catch up.

Why not compromise and say you'll bring her to the wake and stay local so that if she is upset your ex can call you so you can come and get her.

This really won't harm her. She probably won't even remember. I'd try and support your ex to do this if it's important to him.

CelticPromise Sun 20-Oct-13 16:14:17

MissMuesli you must do what you think is right, but DS didn't know the cousin whose funeral we went to (had met her once or twice as a baby I think). It is just the way we do things in our family. Actually now I think of it DS has also been to a funeral of someone he had never met. It's just the way things are done in my family.

At a wake IME there is food, a sort of meet and greet by the guests to the immediate family, some people leave reasonably early and then the rest settle in to get drunk. So a couple of hours at the wake might be a good option.

halfwildlingwoman Sun 20-Oct-13 16:14:43

I think it's important that children, however young, go to the funerals of people who they were close to and who they loved.
I think it is ridiculous for a young child to go to the funeral of someone they didn't know. Tell him no.

tiggytape Sun 20-Oct-13 16:16:13

My children have always gone to family funerals from the age of 12 months onwards (DS was 12 months old when my DH lost a member of his family).
They’ve gone to more funerals than weddings over the years unfortunately.

I think your own experiences have been quite extreme so maybe that has put you off a bit? I have never been to a funeral where anyone has been hysterical to the point of being carried out. Some people cry but if she sits near the back she probably won't even see that.

Wakes vary from quiet shuffling around and eating sandwiches whilst talking in family groups to very happy celebrations of the person's life, telling stories about them, lots of laughing and a few tears.
Again I have never been to one that would have been an emotionally damaging experience for a child. Again, maybe your own experience has put you off - probably the worst that will happen if she goes to the wake is she will be a bit bored for an hour or two.

I know she didn't know the cousin who dies but funerals are family occasions and your exP may want to still include her in his family events. I would let her go to the wake at least.

LookingThroughTheFog Sun 20-Oct-13 16:16:33

I think it must be very difficult when your main experience of funerals has been fraught. Personally, I'd let her go. I think it's OK for children to see mourning, and to understand the worth of being allowed to say goodbye. I think this is a lot less confusing than people simply vanishing out of their lives. Funerals are naturally sad, but it's important for them to see that not all sadness is terrifying or destructive.

But, having said that, I think you have to exercise your own judgement as to which funerals to go to. Hell would freeze over before I allowed someone to prevent my children going to my Nan's funeral. She has a good relationship with them, despite being very old. She's an integral part of their lives. She would want them there.

With someone like a cousin, I'd be guided by their (the cousin's) closer family. If my Aunt or Uncle specifically said they'd like them there, then I'd take them. If not, I'd go alone - the children don't know my cousins well, so it wouldn't be a vanishing.

It is likely that there will be awkward questions to answer - but these will happen anyway. Whether you tell them that people die, and that's the end, or whether you say they've gone to heaven - these answers will have to be found whenever your child asks you. They will ask if you will die at some point. I'm not sure these questions can be avoided forever.

I think what I'm trying to say is that a funeral isn't always intrinsically bad.

justmyview Sun 20-Oct-13 16:17:33

If she might be a PITA on the day, that's your ex's problem not yours, if he's the one who wants to take her

The issue for you is whether your DD would be upset by going. Children of that age can be very matter of fact and interested, not really phased by other people being upset. I suspect she wouldn't be traumatised

My aunt encouraged us to consider taking my DD to my uncle's funeral, on the basis that it was better for DD to go to a more distant funeral first, where she's less likely to be upset

I don't think "it's my day to have her" should come into it - that sounds petty

ll31 Sun 20-Oct-13 16:17:58

He's her parent too. Yabu, let him take her.

Gileswithachainsaw Sun 20-Oct-13 16:20:04

I can see both sides tbh. Yes I think it's a bit young but death is a part of life and you can't keep it from them. And yes children at funerals do remind people that it's not about mourning death but celebrating the life that person had.

However, in this instance with her not knowing the family member it does seem a bit pointless. She's not saying good bye to or celebrating anyone she knows and without that I don't feel that having her serve as the "cheer up squad" would be right.

MissMuesli Sun 20-Oct-13 16:23:40

Justmyview- it's not really the issue that "it's my day", more that if it was happening on a Tuesday (his day) then I probably wouldn't actually be told, therefore no discussion. Where as because it's on "my day" it does mean we have to discuss it and come to an agreement, as he can't just do it. That's what I meant by that.

And yes, as some one said, possibly my own experiences are clouding my judgement, I suppose I assume are funerals are as horrible as that.

Anyway, just had a chat with the ex, and decided that she won't go to the funeral, but she can go to the wake for an hour or so. Hopefully that's a good compromise!

justmyview Sun 20-Oct-13 16:29:17

Great compromise

she'll help to lift people's spirits

TallulahMcFey Sun 20-Oct-13 16:32:02

I strongly believe that funerals are not the place for children. My mum died when my daughter was 2 years 3 months and she went to nursery during the service but we collected her cat some stage during the wake that was in my dad's house anyway, which she was v familiar with and had her 2 cousins of similar age to play with. My husband's mum died when the same daughter was 15 and she stayed at my sister in laws house (where wake was to be held) and looked after my 2 younger children and other younger cousins. I didnt have a problem with the wake as people usually in better spirits at this point and to children must present pretty much as a party or any gathering but the service (particularly if a burial) I think is to be avoided. To be fair I think that nobody wants to go to funerals - they go cos they have to but a small child does not have to.

SheldonsMeeMaw Sun 20-Oct-13 16:32:31

When my dd2's great grandfather died she was 3. We decided that she would come to the wake only. I think if it was someone she wasn't close to, I wouldn't take her tbh. Or compromise and just do the wake.

I do see the point about her df having as much right to decide as you though. <sorry not helpful>

Squitten Sun 20-Oct-13 16:37:15

My Grandad died 2yrs ago when our two were 3 and nearly 1. I decided to attend the service and burial alone with my family and then DH brought the kids to the wake afterwards. It was a really good arrangement in the end - the service was very emotional and DS1 would have been upset. They were a great comfort and distraction for my Nan afterwards though and the mood was much lighter.

CelticPromise Sun 20-Oct-13 16:39:01

I disagree Tallulah. No-one wants to lose someone they love but since that is inevitable they may actually want to go to the funeral. I wanted to go to my grandad's, aged about 8 or 9 I think. That's the first one I was old enough to remember. I think funerals can be a part of the healing process. I have been to three funerals in the last year. I didn't want to lose the people, but I did want to go to honour and celebrate them.

Sparklymommy Sun 20-Oct-13 17:53:45

I also am of the opinion that funerals are not the place for young children. My father died five years ago. Dd1 was very close to him and at 5 was unfortunate enough to be with me when I discovered he had died. We were in the middle of town and I had phoned him to ask something, only to be told he'd died by my brother. I was hysterical. Extremely upset and distressed myself and I shudder to this day when I realise the effect my reaction had on my daughter.

However, I was still loathe to have her at the funeral. Instead we let her come to the wake for an hour or two as there were family members she hadn't seen in a long time and that was fine.

Now, she is ten, if my mother (whom she lives with, whom she has always been exceptionally close to) died then yes, I probably would allow her to attend if she so wished.

A friend of mine passed away leaving 3 young children. They did not attend their own mothers funeral as it was decided that they were too young. It's a hard decision to make, and some families have different views. But your compromise seems the best option to me.

bababababoom Sun 20-Oct-13 23:38:45

I don't think I'd let her go if she didn't know the person. However, would if it was someone she knew. I disagree with saying funerals are not a place for small children. I think they need to say goodbye, and understand death, and that in order to do that they need to be helped to deal with it, not hidden away from it.

TallulahMcFey Mon 21-Oct-13 05:18:12

I can see in some circumstances there may be a place for young children at funerals but I really cant see how the under 5's would ever benefit. My mum didn't let me go to my granddad's funeral at 11 and then my aunt's at 14 and to be honest, I would have liked to go. I did give my daughter the choice but did say to her that I didn't expect her to be there and felt that there was no need to go simply as a sign as respect. I think that all that is done in a person's life time. I think for me to think it ok for children to be present, it would have to be a close relative or someone they were close to and they would have to be over 5 and express a wish to go. But that is only my opinion of what I would apply in my family. I don't think other people doing different things are wrong.

ProudAS Mon 21-Oct-13 06:40:50

I attended a family funeral at weekend and deceased's 2yo GS wasn't at service but was at wake. It was lovely to have him there and he had a positive effect on the mood.

Dubjackeen Mon 21-Oct-13 07:00:10

Sounds like a good compromise OP. in my view, there is no right or wrong in deciding whether children attend funerals. For small children, the parents can only try to make the best decision they can, based on how they think the child will be able to deal with it, and how the child will behave, particularly if there is a long ceremony involved, for example. When it is a relative who was a part of the child's life, (which I know is not the case here),it is a decision for the parent(s) to make, as best they can. It can be good, to help the child to understand why that person is no longer around.

Chunderella Mon 21-Oct-13 07:59:09

I think that's a good compromise. Based on what you've mentioned, it sounds like XP is from a cultural background where it's customary for everyone to attend funerals. If so, this is DDs culture too, and it is a good thing if she can be included. But the whole day maybe would be a bit much for her. Hopefully there'll be other children around at the wake, there usually are, and she can enjoy playing with extended family.

ebwy Mon 21-Oct-13 09:54:12

my son was nearly 2 when my nan died. He waited in the car with his uncle (not one who new my nan) while we were at the funeral, and then they came in for the food and socialising at the house where he did seem to lighten everyone's spirits a bit. I never even considered taking him in to the actual funeral, he'd have been bored at best, and at worst he'd have been distressed at seeing me so upset. bored or distressed toddlers certainly wouldn't be appropriate in the crematorium!

I took my 2 and 3 year olds to a family funeral last year. Oldest told me afterwards she had had a wonderful day! I think they are more matter of fact at that kind of age, although I have to say it was an elderly relative and there wasn't masses of crying so I guess if it was an unexpected death or someone younger it might have been more upsetting.

FlapJackOLantern Mon 21-Oct-13 10:55:00

but I do genuinely believe this has the potential to upset and confuse her.

I doubt that very much (not unless her father starts wailing and gnashing his teeth). She will find, honestly. And you would not want your Ex to be telling you what to do, would you?

MissMuesli Mon 21-Oct-13 21:23:08

FlapJack- my ex tells me what to do plenty but that's a thread for a different day! :-)

Heartbrokenmum73 Mon 21-Oct-13 21:30:32

Maybe I missed it (and sorry if I did) but what are his reasons for wanting her there? She never met the deceased, so what on earth is the point of taking a toddler to that funeral.

I don't believe in taking children to funeral's either. Every funeral I've attended where there have been small children present, they've got bored and fidgety and LOUD.

There have been two funeral's in exes family that our dc were 'invited' (for want of a better word) to, as apparently 'everyone takes their dc to funerals in this family'. Erm, no they don't actually, and we didn't. Dc were too young to understand what was going on or to behave appropriately.

And I'm also a bit hmm at kids being used to 'lighten the mood' at wakes. They're not performing seals, there to entertain people. And the wakes I've been to (and the ones ex has attended without me) there has ALWAYS been a punch-up. Just my own experience though.

DameDeepRedBetty Mon 21-Oct-13 21:39:10

So pleased to see you've gone for the compromise OP.

The 'wake' after a funeral is a very important time in our family, as births, deaths and marriages are the only times we all get together. Totally understand why ex wants his dd to be present, and it is right and proper that she should.

Well done OP - and OP's ex too!

DameDeepRedBetty Mon 21-Oct-13 21:43:16

Forgot to say - I wouldn't have taken dds to a funeral service at that age anyway. Five or six is the minimum (or tiny babies who can't be left, rather like weddings....) - when they've started school and have got used to being told they have to be quiet now. But the tea and buns bit afterwards - before serious drinking starts if it's THAT sort of wake - children are part of the extended family and should be present for.

JoinYourPlayfellows Mon 21-Oct-13 21:49:40

She's a toddler, she'll go to the funeral and make a bit of noise and people might have a bit of a giggle at her.

Really, this is HER family.

If they have children at funerals, then I'm not sure it's really your place to refuse her father's request to take her.

There's nothing harmful at a funeral. Just adults being a bit sad and then sitting around talking about someone they loved.

I was at my Granny's funeral recently and my 3 children (5,3,1) were all with me.

I didn't bring them to the wake, or to the grave, but they came to the funeral and the meal afterwards and had a lovely time playing with their cousins and being admired by the extended family.

squoosh Mon 21-Oct-13 21:57:45

Wow, I've been to lots of wakes, they've all had children present but certainly never had punch ups!

Children 'lightening the mood' doesn't mean they're 'performing seals', it means people enjoy children's carefree and lighthearted presence.

JoinYourPlayfellows Mon 21-Oct-13 22:05:32

Yeah, I've never witnessed a punch up at a wake.

IME they are lovely family occasions where people reminisce and tell a lot of funny stories.

MigGril Mon 21-Oct-13 22:13:56

I feel very strongly about this. Probably as I was never allowed to go to my grandparents funerals as a child. All children no matter what their age should be allowed to attend family funerals. and better it be someone she isn't too clos,e to the first time. Its part of life why hide off from them.

Took me years to accept my grandfather's death as I never got to say goodbye. I was left confused as I'd seen him last happy and alive. Then told he was dead, I had no closure at all. I don't know how anyone could do that to a child, my parents where trying to protect me but it just left me confused and upset. In the end the first funeral I got to attend was my mum's, I wish I'd been to others first. I didn't know what to expect.

Children are very matter of fact when that young it won't have any negative effect on her.

CelticPromise Mon 21-Oct-13 22:28:34

I'm intrigued at what should be done with the children who are not going to funerals. I've had to travel to all three of the funerals I've been to in the last 12 months, and all the people I knew in each place were going to the funeral. My DS would have been much more confused at being left for the day with a stranger than being with me albeit in unfamiliar circumstances.

JoinYourPlayfellows Mon 21-Oct-13 22:30:26

When you're a child many circumstances are unfamiliar anyway.

Because you haven't been alive long and so you have to do loads of things for the first time.

Ds3 was 3 when my dad died - he came to the funeral and the wake, but didn't go to the crematorium - and he was just fine.

I went to my brother's funeral at the age of three - I have vague memories of my brother, but I know that if my parents hadn't let me go, I'd have been furious when I grew up and found out. To find out that everyone in my family was there but me would have been awful.

As it was, my family were glad I was there as I provided the light relief - halfway through I piped up "Do we get to have sandwiches?", because my cousins were there and whenever I saw my cousins was usually for football matches, and we'd have cheese spread sandwiches grin

According to my parents, my understanding of what was happening was very good and I was sad, but not traumatised, and - with the exception of my innocent question, I was very well behaved. To this day I've always been better-adjusted to death than friends of the same age, and I credit this to my parents for teaching me that it is something that happens, and to being allowed to attend my brother's funeral at 3, and my great-uncle's - I was very close to him - at 5.

Arudonto Tue 22-Oct-13 00:08:39

is your xp Irish or from Irish backround by any chance OP? it would be fairly normal for fairly young kids to be at wakes removals and funerals esp family ones over here....I cant even remember the first funeral I went to.I used to go with my dad to loads! I swear he used to go to a funeral a month!there was usually a gang of kids around at the wakes to keep each other company while the adults chatted.I dont really have any bad memories of funerals death was never a unspoken thing...close family funerals were still incredible emotionally charged times but going to less close family funerals and wakes is usually a good way to meet up with people you havent seen in a while...

BackforGood Tue 22-Oct-13 00:19:38

It's definitely a cultural thing. I've been to loads and loads of funerals over the years, and can honestly not remember any child younger than a teen being at any of them - Oh, no, wait - one I can where the youngest brother was 9 and it was his Mum's funeral. But, him aside, IME children just don't go to funerals.
However, as I've read on MN before, apparently in some families they do. I really agree with OP, but I'm probably very much influenced by what my own experience has been.
Sounds like a good compromise though.

Heartbrokenmum73 Tue 22-Oct-13 00:20:35

Wow, did I actually write 'performing seals'? Sorry for that - obviously need to read what I've written before I post!

I'm massively projecting here. Ex is Irish descent (can you tell?) and all social events involve huge amounts of alcohol in crappy little pubs and social clubs, usually followed by some lovely violence. I backed out of these gatherings some years back and have tried to keep dc out of it as much as possible. And have had some real spite back from it too - apparently I'm a snob!

Sorry, didn't mean to derail the thread or cause upset - didn't have me thinking head on!

MissMuesli Wed 23-Oct-13 15:55:40

Hello, just thought I would update. Ex isn't Irish by the way. So the funeral was today and we stuck to DD just going to the wake. Turns out quite alot of families did the same, adults at funeral, children join after. I'm pretty glad we agreed that as, as I dropped DD off her dad was visibly upset (understandably obviously) so think it was the right choice, and one that other members of his family chose aswell. DD skipped off to play with with cousins, so the day worked out really well after all!

CelticPromise Wed 23-Oct-13 20:30:43

Glad to hear it MissM, sounds like it was the right choice for you.

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