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.

CailinDana Thu 23-Jan-14 23:24:39

Honestly I find it bizarre the way some people "shield" children from death. Where I'm from grief is a community thing and children are very much involved. Leaving them out just seems totally wrong to me. But I understand that's influenced by my upbringing.

livelablove Thu 23-Jan-14 23:27:54

I think you are being a bit paranoid to think that the minister is trying to "godwash" them at a funeral. Its not like one of those fun-filled kid's services. I'm sure she was sincere in thinking it helps to give closure.
But they are your kids and you know best if this would be likely to upset them. I don't think they will miss out by not going to the funeral at this young age.

thedogwakesuptoodamnearly Thu 23-Jan-14 23:31:24

Are you angry because you'd agreed something and now your OH is going back on it after hearing a third party's view? That would make me feel undermined.

6 is very young to have to deal with adult grief.

BackforGood Thu 23-Jan-14 23:32:11

Not sure where you get the 'guilt tripped' from.
She's made a suggestion, and presumably let it be known she's quite happy for them to be there and has come across families who have found it right for them. Don't see in what way this is 'guilt tripping' anyone.

For me personally, I'm with you all the way in them not going. My children didn't attend their first funeral until they were teens (well, the younger one wasn't quite). I totally agree with trying to look after young children can get in the way of your own grieving, and I personally would send them to school as normal / let someone else look after them.

ilikebaking Thu 23-Jan-14 23:32:16

Did the children know him?
I think not allowing them to attend the funeral may make them very angry in later life. I personally would be.
It does give you time to say goodbye and get closure. Even if you are not religious yourself.
I don't know what you think the minister is trying to achieve by having two boys at the funeral, except to help them and your family, it isn't a cult you know.

DisgraceToTheYChromosome Thu 23-Jan-14 23:38:35

My DN's (6) comment at my Dad's funeral: "I'll be alright as they don't open the box".

At 13, when DM died: "That was a really nice floral arrangement with the big willow basket".

"Er, that was the coffin".

"Yeah, pretty cool".

Possibly the wrong side of blasé.

chocladoodle Thu 23-Jan-14 23:39:05

Have you asked your sons if they want to go?

Winston's wish has some good advice for children and bereavement

Preciousbane Thu 23-Jan-14 23:39:33

I would take them, my DS has very sadly attended three funerals of very close family.

I agree dc should not be totally shielded against all the sad things in the world including death.

Alisvolatpropiis Thu 23-Jan-14 23:41:34

I think 6 is probably too young to attend a funeral. Not in the "shielding them from death" sense but in the being able to behave appropriately for a considerable amount of time sense.

So Yanbu not to take them.

Yabu to think the vicar was trying to "godwash" them though, in my opinion. She was just making a suggestion.

ClaudiusMaximus Thu 23-Jan-14 23:48:56

Please take them. I wasn't allowed to go to my grandparents' funerals as a child and to this day it makes me angry and upset that I wasn't allowed the opportunity to say goodbye.

Even if they don't totally realise what's going on, at least they can say they were there.

LeeLooLahLah Thu 23-Jan-14 23:49:00

Yes reading back what I said, it does come across a bit anti-religion. Didn't mean to offend.

Thedogwakes - you are right. I feel undermined but I suppose I deflected away from DH as I know he's hurting. He did tell the minister I had said no and she told him to give me her number if I wanted to talk about it.

Ilikebaking - my boys adored their Grandad. Which makes the decision about them going even harder. I wouldn't want them to regret not going later in life but right now they are just so young and innocent.

I was planning on arranging our own "service" for just DH, me and DT's. Something like going to release a balloon or put a message in a bottle or something so the boys have some sort or remembrance occasion.

I guess the emotion of it all is clouding my judgement.

thedogwakesuptoodamnearly Thu 23-Jan-14 23:51:47

" He did tell the minister I had said no and she told him to give me her number if I wanted to talk about it."

I think that's rude. Your own family ceremny to remember their grandad sounds lovely.

LeeLooLahLah Thu 23-Jan-14 23:53:40

Yes reading back what I said, it does come across a bit anti-religion. Didn't mean to offend.

Thedogwakes - you are right. I feel undermined but I suppose I deflected away from DH as I know he's hurting. He did tell the minister I had said no and she told him to give me her number if I wanted to talk about it.

Ilikebaking - my boys adored their Grandad. Which makes the decision about them going even harder. I wouldn't want them to regret not going later in life but right now they are just so young and innocent.

I was planning on arranging our own "service" for just DH, me and DT's. Something like going to release a balloon or put a message in a bottle or something so the boys have some sort or remembrance occasion.

I guess the emotion of it all is clouding my judgement.

Joysmum Thu 23-Jan-14 23:56:35

If your children go, you have to be parents first, thinking about your children rather than being able to put your own grief first.

My MIL's funeral was horrendous. She was religious and would have wanted a religious ceremony so that's what we did. The service was 75% about religion and didn't adequately celebrate who she was as a person.

You don't need to be at a religious funeral to grieve and say goodbye. Why not do something with just you and the kids that is more child friendly to encourage your boys to share their memories, celebrate their nan and ask questions. An adult funeral doesn't cater to the needs of 6 year olds.

Joysmum Thu 23-Jan-14 23:57:56

* sorry, grandad, not nan. Confusing this with my own situation their I'm afraid blush

TossedSaladsAndScrambledEggs Thu 23-Jan-14 23:59:33

I was very close to my granny who died when I was 6. I am still upset to this day that I was not allowed to the funeral. But it is up to you.

CailinDana Fri 24-Jan-14 00:03:44

You say they're young and "innocent." In what way would a funeral damage their innocence? Death is a (very sad) fact of life. I don't see how excluding your children from participating in marking the passing of a beloved grandfather is a positive thing. It won't make them any less sad, in fact, it's more likely to make them feel unimportant and forgotten. Funerals aren't nasty or evil their purpose is to honour the dead and your sons have a much right as anyone to be part of that.

LeeLooLahLah Fri 24-Jan-14 00:04:03

Thank you for your comments. It's hard to think clearly about it all as I just want to help them through it appropriately.
Joysmum - I'm sorry for your loss xx

msmoss Fri 24-Jan-14 00:04:34

I can still clearly remember being left at home when everyone went to my grandfather's funeral when I was five, I can understand why I was left but I would much rather have gone. It is a time for family to say goodbye and they are family.

K8Middleton Fri 24-Jan-14 00:04:54

My grandad died when I was 6. We went to the wake but not the funeral. I think that was sensible.

I don't think the funeral service is particularly accessible to young children, but I also don't feel a funeral per se is necessary to say good-bye.

Joysmum Fri 24-Jan-14 00:04:59

Tossed did anyone do anything for you to allow you to mark the occasion? wrong wording I know but I'm tired and struggling to find the right words

beanandspud Fri 24-Jan-14 00:11:00

I can only add my own experience but DFIL died when DS was 5. It was after a long illness and not unexpected.

We talked with DS in simple terms about the death and the funeral. My parents offered to stay with DS while we went to the funeral etc. (3 hours drive away) but in the end we decided that we were a family unit and that it was important to us that we went together and supported each other. Up until a few minutes before the funeral we gave DS the option to stay outside with me (we would have walked around the gardens and talked about his grandad) or to come in to the service. DS made the decision to come in and was as good as gold. We were very proud of him and a lot of people commented on how he was part of the day.

On reflection, I'm glad that he was there. He talks about his grandad and remembers a little of the day. For us it was the right decision.

ProcessYellowC Fri 24-Jan-14 00:17:40

Hmm it does sound tough and it must be so hard to deal with this question in addition to your grief.

I don't think the minister was being all that forward, and the offer of her number might be worth taking up once you have had a chance to sleep on it. I am sure she would be amenable to talking through your concerns, even those about not being religious yourselves.

It's not clear how your DH is doing either and what his thoughts are. It sounds like he is grief stricken and going with what the last person he speaks to says. Can he talk openly with you about whether he really wants the children there or not? Not trying to be rude, but it does sound like the views on their attendance, and the alternative small-family service (which does sound lovely - in addition to a funeral) are led by your own views. I don't see why you would have to hide your grief if they were at the funeral - surely it would show them that it is ok to be upset if their mum and dad are upset. I come from a family that hid emotions away under lock and key, and trust me it is not great.

I am surprised you haven't had to deal with your DCs picking up on religion at school (even if not taught). DS seems to buy my line for the moment when he comes home with a "new" religion, when I tell him that some people believe in that, DH and I don't, and when he is older he can choose whether to believe or not.

Caitlin17 Fri 24-Jan-14 00:24:18

I dont think not taking 6 year olds to a funeral is shielding them from death. Taking 6 year olds to a funeral where they are likely told their gf hasn't really died/will be with god /whatever might be, especially as it's not what their parents believe.

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.

LeeLooLahLah Fri 24-Jan-14 08:27:58

Wow. Lots of wonderful advice and experiences. Thank you

loisismyhero Fri 24-Jan-14 08:52:32

I think personally that it can be helpful for the children to attend the funeral. My children attended my father's funeral - they were 9, 3 and 1 at the time and they were fine. On the flip side my grandmother died when I was 9 and I didn't go the funeral - I went on a pre arranged school residential instead. It still rankles, to be honest. Having said that, they're your children. I'm Irish, and like others have said, Irish death culture is very different to British death culture, from what I can see. In Ireland a six year old would probably be very much part of the ceremony - my nine year old brought up the gifts at my father's funeral and you would often see children reading the prayers of the faithful at funerals here. It's not really about religion for them - it's about being part of celebrating and remembering the life.

StanleyLambchop Fri 24-Jan-14 09:18:45

I did not take my children to my Dad's funeral. We are a religious family , but it was more that I knew I was going to be crying my eyes out through the service, and I did not want them to see that. They were Ok with the decision. I also think it is hard for children to sit through funerals, and this often leads to conflict with other family members who may disapprove of what they see as 'inappropriate behaviour'. So YANBU to make your own decisions about your own children, but you did come over as being anti- religion in the OP. I see you realised that in your update, so fair enough.

hiccupgirl Fri 24-Jan-14 09:28:50

I don't think not taking 6 yr olds to a funeral is going to make them angry or scar them for life tbh. If they were 8 or 9 I would give them a choice of attending or not but at 6 they are still too young I think and I don't see what is wrong with you and your husband having the chance to think of yourselves that day and grieve more openly. I also don't see what is wrong with wanting to protect young children from the whole reality of death where possible.

My great grandparents all died when I was 6-8 and I was quite close to them and saw them regularly. My parents just told me they had died and there was no question of going to the funeral - it just wasn't considered appropriate to have young children there. As an adult I think this was the right thing to do and I would do the same with my DS.

unlucky83 Fri 24-Jan-14 10:03:36

It is your decision but I think you should take them. Otherwise you create a mystery and misunderstanding - what is so terrible that they can't see it?

DD1 didn't go to my grandmother's funeral (crematorium) just the wake - she would have been 3. She was too young to remember anything really - except she played with playdough with my sister's friend (and she was scared of my grandmother anyway) .

She did go to my Great aunts funeral at 6 (with Dd2 at 5 weeks old) - that was a church service and burial. We were worried about her seeing the coffin being buried but actually it was good thing - she thought they took the body out of the coffin before they buried etc and was a bit scared by that. Her greatest memory is the cream cakes at the wake.

They both went to my uncle's funeral (crematorium). DD1 (just 11) and DD2 (just 5) and again it was fine. DD2 cried at one point too and I gave her a cuddle. We didn't view my uncle's body and I really wish we had as DD2 has asked lots of questions.
(She also didn't see me bury her sister's hamster at about 3 and she wanted me to dig him up the day after to see)

They both said they don't like when they see me (and other adults) cry, it frightens them - but they saw that as he was dying as well. And it is a fact of life.
What they imagine is scarier than the reality.
And as to the religious bit - both mine go to Sunday School - I'm an atheist and the minister knows that. Sent DD1 because religion is so important in the world that I thought it would be good to know about it and how churches etc work. They know I don't believe but some people do etc - they can make their own decisions.
I went to Sunday school etc but I don't believe. If I can make that decision - as an adult and armed with the facts - surely I can trust them to make the right decision for themselves too.

ghostofawasp Fri 24-Jan-14 10:15:18

I took my DS to the funerals of my grandparents - but when DFIL died we had two aged 2 and 4, so we didn't take them into the church but took them to the wake afterwards. The only reason we didn't take them was because they would have struggled to sit still and not fight/shout/be raucous for all that length of time. I generally think though that kids should be exposed to adults going through a range of emotions, I let my children see me cry at films, or when pets die, they see me and DH argue and express anger... Obviously not in a shouty sweary way, but they see that two people can disagree, resolve something and still carry on afterwards. I was brought up in a house where emotion was not tolerated and was kept behind closed doors, it took me years to realise how utterly unhealthy that was.

I agree with littlewhitebag - you know your own children, but they might surprise you with their take on the situation.

OTheHugeManatee Fri 24-Jan-14 10:21:43

When FIL died 2 years ago everyone would have been appalled if his two youngest GC (then 1 and 5) weren't there. Particularly because the 5yo lived with them and absolutely needed to be part of the big collective farewell to him, not some anodyne 'child friendly' version.

They didn't attend the actual interment but the funeral? Absolutely.

BlueSkyandRain Fri 24-Jan-14 10:24:47

I'm sorry for your loss lee . Just to add my own experiences in case it helps - last year our son was stillborn at 36 weeks and a few months later my grandad died. Our dcs who were 8, 6 and 4 went to both funerals. With our son, it was absolutely necessary that they went - they were so upset that they had never seen their brother or held him or anything. We were given a booklet by the funeral directors that was really helpful and explained that children can often be helped by being involved with a funeral and cremation service - often if things are hidden from children they fill in the gaps themselves and get much more scared by the things they imagine than they would be if they knew the truth. It explored things like whether you have the curtain close around the coffin at the crem and what children think about what happens after that, etc.

I can't find a link to anything similar but it might be worth asking the funeral directors you're using - especially as you feel uncomfortable with religious approaches and they'll be more impartial. But the gist of it was to be honest, open and straightforward with them, whatever your choices in terms of the service etc. To answer their questions as best you can and if the answer is 'I don't know' then that's ok - the worst thing is hiding things as they notice but then can't trust you, they hide their worries and it feeds their fears.

Obviously you know your dcs best, but mine would have been upset and angry if we'd not let them come in either case - their grief is as real and strong as anyone else's. I know very well the feeling of wanting to shield them and protect them, and I still wish I could. But death, unfortunately, is a part of life and learning how to walk alongside others in their grief rather than expecting them to hide it away is something I wish more people would do. One of my hopes in my dcs having had to experience all this is they will grow up more able to do just that.

I don't think my dcs are particularly more able to 'behave' than most, and funeral services aren't usually very long so unlike previous posters I'd totally disagree with the view that it's inappropriate for that reason. At 6 they are used to assemblies etc. at school. I suppose I ought to say that for us there was no concern about different approaches as both services were Christian, and we are too. But if that hadn't been the case, I think we'd just go along the lines (that we have at weddings etc) that different people believe different things, and you make your own choices when you're ready. Maybe it would be worth talking to the vicar about your worries? It does sound as though she was trying to help, and I really don't think many these days would use a funeral as a time to deliberately try to convert anyone.

Most of all I really echo what others have said that it is a good thing - if considered odd or wrong in our culture - for children to see their parents grieving and sad when they are. It validates their own feelings, means it's ok to express their own sadness rather than teaching them to bottle it up. So whatever you decide is best, please do let them see you being sad at times. I wish you all the best whatever you end up doing x

Scholes34 Fri 24-Jan-14 10:36:50

DD went to the funeral of her friend's father when she was 7. I felt it was important for her to go. Took the children out of school for my aunt's funeral when they were 10,12 and 14.

We were especially tearful when the hearse and coffin arrived at my uncle's home and we all followed in our cars, led by one of the funeral directors walking slowly down the road in front of the hearse. As we turned into the main road we picked up speed and eventually were on a dual carriageway. At this point, DD asked "How fast is that lady running?" not realising she'd obviously got into the car as we turned into the main road. This was a lovely tale to tell at the "party", bringing laughter through the tears.

IME, children at funerals bring a joy and celebration of life, and I feel it's good for them to see adults cry and show their emotions.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Fri 24-Jan-14 10:41:05

My DH has lost his grandfather and his father in the last year or so. My DCs were 4 and 2 when their great-grandfather died and 4 and 3 when their grandfather died. We didn't take them to either funeral or wake. It just didn't seem right and we were able to leave them in familiar places (nursery or school then a friend's) while the funerals took place.

What we did with them was light candles for the grandfathers and also say goodbye to them. In the case of FIL this included going along to the church to see his funeral flowers and attending his ashes being put into the ground at the churchyard. Both of these things were private with only a few family members there. To me this seemed a more age appropriate way of remembering their grandfathers. If they resent not attending the funeral in future it will break my heart as I put a lot of thought into this and honestly thought it was the best thing for the children.

I realise my DCs are a bit younger than the OP's but my daughter will be 5 in a few months and I don't think that would change my decision to be honest. I also think answering curious children's questions on death is very hard. It would complicate things for the child to be told contrary to what your parents have said your grandfather is with God.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Fri 24-Jan-14 10:43:09

Sorry DD will be 6 in a few months not 5.

Scholes34 Fri 24-Jan-14 10:55:18

I don't think the minister has guilt tripped your DH. I think a good and supportive conversation has taken place, and had you been party to it too, it's quite possible you would have felt the same as your DH afterwards.

My sister, brother and I went to my grandad's funeral when I was 9, she was 6 and he was 1. I took part in the offertory, I wanted to help and my widowed gran wanted me to take part. We had been to several others before and after that (large extended elderly/sickly family), and the only thing we were ever excluded from was the graveside bit. The only funeral we didn't go to the mass for was my mum's dad, because we didn't know him (my parents went, we waited in the car). Every single one of them was fine, and the wake afterwards was always a good laugh, never been traumatised. As far as my family are concerned the whole family mourns together, and children lighten the mood.
The only funeral I was ever really bothered by happened when I was 21 and my ex's cousin who died after a long illness at the age of 20.

Sirzy Fri 24-Jan-14 11:20:26

The minister has expressed her opinion based on presumably quite a vast amount of experince of bereavement.

I think the important thing is what your children want, if they want to go take them if not make alternative arrangements.

OldBeanbagz Fri 24-Jan-14 11:35:08

I took my DD to her Grandad's funeral when she was 5 years old. He was a huge part of her life and there seemed no reason not to take her. She wanted to go (despite being the only child there) and the vicar gave her the very important job of lighting a candle.

Neither DH or me are religious but the service wasn't about us. It was about FIL, his wishes and we were merely there to say a final goodbye.

I would ask your DT whather they want to go. Explain to them what's going to happen on the day so that they know eveything in advance. And have a look at the Winston's Wish site. There's loads of good advice on there.

MrsMoon76 Fri 24-Jan-14 11:53:56

I do think children should go to funerals. As mentioned by a pp children are welcome at funerals in Ireland. We learn to see death and funerals as a part of life, as a part of family life. We also do a lot of open coffins at the wakes which horrified and upset my 38 year old husband who had never seen a dead body up to that point and never been to a funeral as a child. He has a real fear of death and I think part of that issue is due to it being hidden from him growing up. I have a very sad memory of hugging my dad at a funeral (his brother's) as a small child. He was bawling and my brother and I hugging him for dear life. It was upsetting but I was so glad I was there with him to comfort him.

Dubjackeen Fri 24-Jan-14 12:18:01

OP, my condolences on your loss. Lots of good advice here already, and some lovely stories. It's a tough one to decide what is best. You can only try to figure, with your husband, how you think it would affect the children, as you are the ones who know them best. Practicalities also are important, of course, in your decision, e.g.if there are long journeys involved, long ceremony, etc, all of these need to be taken into consideration.
Personally, I think it's nice for children to attend, if possible, especially when they knew the person. It's the circle of life, and children often surprise adults, in their take on death. Lovely story upthread of the child saying goodbye to their own relative, and then at the other graves. I think that can help a child to understand and accept death, rather than be fearful of it.
I would think the church minister meant well, and while I understand your initial reaction, it might help to have a chat with her.

treas Fri 24-Jan-14 12:46:29

My mother died last summer. My dc were very close to her but didn't attend her funeral, DM did not agree with children at funerals herself.

However, they do not feel that they haven't said their goodbyes because we went out as a family (DF, DSis, DH, DC and myself) for a meal where we remembered and talked about DM.

DM often pops up in their conversation in fond remembrance and when we visit my dad we are going over to DM's according to them.

People say goodbye in different ways - not attending a funeral does not mean dc are being shielded from death.

wowfudge Fri 24-Jan-14 12:51:16

OP - it's up to you. If your decision is for them not to go, that's fine. You know how close the relationships were and can best judge whether your DC should go. Now if you are not sure, then maybe a chat with minister will help.

I don't think it's nice to attend any funeral. That's my view. When one of my grandmothers died I was about 8; my younger sister and I didn't go to the funeral. We did, however, attend a memorial service for her a few weeks later. Our much younger cousin, who was 3 or 4 at the time did the same. Having attended funerals later in life, I don't think we missed out.

A couple of years ago, a friend's father died and her DC (3 under the age of 7) attended. They were, frankly, bored, couldn't sit still and didn't understand what was going on (they were sitting behind us; not at the front so they couldn't run around). After the church service they then went to the burial. I don't know what they made of that as I left after the church service.

Gladvent Fri 24-Jan-14 12:58:56

I am sorry for your loss.

My DC have been to funerals since they were babes in arms. When my Nanna died we had open casket at home and they saw her, they were 5 and 7 at the time. DS stood alongside me as I read tribute at crem. Death is nothing to be shielded from. That said it is different for everyone. The best I can advise is to go with your gut instincts.

JackNoneReacher Fri 24-Jan-14 13:00:34

I don't think there is a right or wrong about them going although if they go I think they'll be fine.

However I do think its for you to decide, not the minister who is entitled to an opinion but certainly doesn't have all the answers.

Also, as she doesn't know the boys, and presumably hasn't been asked for her thoughts on the matter I think she'd be better to keep her opinions to herself.

Meow75 Fri 24-Jan-14 13:06:20

I agree with other posters that the idea of shielding your children from your grief is wrong. Do you want them to think that your DH/you didn't love or like their DGF? Is it so awful that your kids see you cry and realise the emotions that you are capable of? I think that's really sad.

Why do you think attending the funeral will affect their "innocence" whatsoever?

I was 18 before I attended a funeral, and I find them extremely difficult, even when - like the last 2 I've been to - they were for the parents of my very close friend, who I love very much but thought her parents were utter fools - mainly for the shit they tried to pull on their daughter - but I still wept.

BrunoBrookesDinedAlone Fri 24-Jan-14 13:12:10

To go back to your original annoyance at the minister's comment OP - I think it is entirely understandable and would REALLY have got my back up as well.

Basically you have/had a situation where you and your DH had carefully discussed how to parent your DCs in a sensitive situation - based on not only your own experiences but your knowledge of your own children. To then have a person who is a complete stranger to your family then inform either of you that in fact you 'should' do things differently is completely inappropriate. Doesn't matter what the situation is, and the minister would be well placed to avoid using that language in future - there is no 'should' with a grieving family, and they should know that.

The advice might indeed be sound, but all she succeeded in doing was getting your back up to the extent that you suspected that she was only interested in her own 'gain'. That says it all!

Some of the experiences folk have shared on here might now be leading you to come to a different decision - again, says it all. Sympathetic folk saying 'Well, when we had this situation we found xx really helpful for our dc' - very useful. Someone saying 'Oh NO you should do it THIS way' - err, back off lady - I'm the parent thanks!!!

underachievingmum Fri 24-Jan-14 13:35:27

I am also not religious but it may be worth taking the minister up on her offer - she will have experience of children at funerals.

Just to follow something said upthread.... My grandfather died just over a year ago when DD1 was 4 (in reception at school). We had much debate about taking her to the funeral and in the end didn't. She was struggling enough with the concept of death. This was not helped when a few months later the vicar took an assembly at school (church school which also happens to be our catchment school hence the reason she goes there) during which he said that people who have died don't really leave us and live on in heaven...... Cue an absolutely distraught 4 year old at bedtime wanting to know why she couldn't go to heaven and visit great grandad sad

SparklyTwinkleGlitter Fri 24-Jan-14 13:46:17

I took my DS to his DGM's funeral but he was only 9 months old so not an issue really, especially as he slept through most of it. If anything, his being there looking cute and smiling helped some of the mourners cope with the funeral, or so they told us afterwards.

He's a bit older now and I wouldn't consider taking him to another funeral until he's in his teens because I think it would be too distressing.

I didn't attend either of my grandparents funerals, so the first one I attended was my father's when I was a teenager. Bloody awful seeing my mother and older siblings so distraught. My mums funeral wasn't much better but at least I was a bit older.

I've been to many funerals and find them all quite harrowing and given the choice, I'd happily choose not to attend any in the future. Unfortunately other folk expect/guilt trip you into attending. :-/

I'm happy to remember people in a way that suits me and I don't need to attend a formal funeral to deal with my grief.

I really like the OP's idea of having a special family occasion to remember DGF. In her shoes, I'd do exactly the same thing.

sixlive Fri 24-Jan-14 14:02:32

I was taken to a couple of funerals when under 10. I think it did harm me I was very upset and bewildered that so many of the people I loved were crying and very upset. Funerals can be long and boring for kids at best and harmful at worst. I think people want kids to come for their own adult needs rather than the kids needs. My overwhelming memory of my grandfather over 40 years ago was the funeral.

skaen Fri 24-Jan-14 14:46:57

I went to my sisters funeral when I was 4. Tbh, the fact that my parents were upset was a fairly minor thing for me then - my sister had died very suddenly and they were utterly bereft. They weren't saving their grief for the funeral.

I still remember though feeling that it finally made sense of what had been going on and gave me a feeling of finality - I knew she wasn't coming back. I am still very glad my parents took me and I fully intend to take my DCs to any close family funerals.

EmmaBemma Fri 24-Jan-14 18:50:45

"Someone saying 'Oh NO you should do it THIS way' - err, back off lady - I'm the parent thanks!!!"

You have absolutely now way of knowing that's how it went down. I highly doubt she said that, or anything like it. It's at least as likely that the OP's husband expressed some doubt about whether their children should go, and she gave her opinion. The OP herself said that she and her husband haven't talked about it between themselves very much, even.

EmmaBemma Fri 24-Jan-14 18:51:10

"no way of knowing", not "now way"!

ukatlast Fri 24-Jan-14 18:54:52

YANBU my parents kept me away from a Great Grandparent's funeral at age 8 when I said I wanted to go...they made the right decision.

The adults need to be free to grieve without worrying about the effect their tears could have on their impressionable 6 year olds.

Yika Fri 24-Jan-14 21:04:15

I tend to think its important for children to attend funerals. They also experience loss and they also feel grief, just like adults. I think the expression and acknowledgement of emotional truth is extremely important for children.

But I also like the OPs idea of a private family goodbye ritual and this may be enough. The children I think must have the opportunity to express their own feelings, to share in the collective grief (this feels very important to me after my own experience this week of the sudden death of a young colleague) and to say goodbye.

I hope no vicar would try to 'godwash' at a funeral. I have a vicar in my family who, yes, of course has their own strong faith, but also believes very much in the role of the priest as a facilitator of the rites of passage of the whole community - religious or not.

bluesky what a moving and sensitive post. I fully agree and am sorry for the loss of your son.

deakymom Fri 24-Jan-14 21:50:02

i took my daughter to my nans funeral as they were close she cried her heart out and started everyone else off a few weeks later my uncle died and she couldn't attend because she was ill there were a lot of comments saying they wished she was there so they could cry as they felt better the last time (after they had a good cry) kids emotions tend to be on the surface if you think they will get something out of it eg say goodbye have a good cry etc by all means but if you think its going to confuse or upset them find a sitter? xx

Pilgit Fri 24-Jan-14 22:01:12

I took my DD's to my grandfathers funeral. It was a big church affair - coffin in the middle. DD1 was 3, DD2 - 5 weeks. My 3 year old nephew was also there. For them, it helped them say goodbye (he was much loved by both of them) BUT we are religious and it was something that helped my mum and my aunts (they were a source of amusement and comedy at various points). However we did not take them to the graveyard (although this was more because it was January and bitterly cold). When they are older we will take them to the graveyard to see both my grandparents. There is more than one way to say goodbye to a loved one and it is down to you and you DH to decide between you what is best.

They can be helped to grieve and accept it in different ways. DD1 and I had a beautiful chat about my grandfather at Christmas - we have some of my grandparents tree ornaments (they are special as they were made for them by a glass blower friend in the 50's - they look old and tatty!) and putting them up made me cry (having DD2 10 days before his death - I didn't process it all). DD1 came up to me gave me a hug and said 'this is how we remember him, how much he loved us and how much we miss him.' Unsurprisingly, I couldn't speak for tears! I suppose the point is - she didn't deal with it because of going to the funeral but because at all points where it has come up we have talked about it and discussed it. Just as the OP is with her sons. It's how it's dealt with in the round that matters.

LeeLooLahLah Fri 24-Jan-14 22:44:59

Thank you for all the replies. I have been really touched by some of your comments and have taken on board others.
So I've just had a discussion with DH. Turns out he feels stronger about the boys attending the funeral than he first let on. He asked the minister for her opinion and then left that detail out when he told me what she said.
We both have reasons for feeling the way we do but have agreed to discuss it with the rest of the family including DT's and make a decision that is appropriate.
There have been lots of posts that included things I hadn't thought of so I am torn.
At the end of the day, my boys are my priority but your posts have helped me to open my mind on how to help them through this.

LeeLooLahLah Fri 24-Jan-14 22:46:09

Thank you for all the replies. I have been really touched by some of your comments and have taken on board others.
So I've just had a discussion with DH. Turns out he feels stronger about the boys attending the funeral than he first let on. He asked the minister for her opinion and then left that detail out when he told me what she said.
We both have reasons for feeling the way we do but have agreed to discuss it with the rest of the family including DT's and make a decision that is appropriate.
There have been lots of posts that included things I hadn't thought of so I am torn.
At the end of the day, my boys are my priority but your posts have helped me to open my mind on how to help them through this.

LeeLooLahLah Fri 24-Jan-14 22:46:10

Thank you for all the replies. I have been really touched by some of your comments and have taken on board others.
So I've just had a discussion with DH. Turns out he feels stronger about the boys attending the funeral than he first let on. He asked the minister for her opinion and then left that detail out when he told me what she said.
We both have reasons for feeling the way we do but have agreed to discuss it with the rest of the family including DT's and make a decision that is appropriate.
There have been lots of posts that included things I hadn't thought of so I am torn.
At the end of the day, my boys are my priority but your posts have helped me to open my mind on how to help them through this.

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