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To consider taking ds (4) to my grandfather's funeral?

(46 Posts)
LiegeAndLief Thu 02-Dec-10 13:08:12

Am really not sure whether I am mad to consider it or not. There will be a cremation, a church service and a wake afterwards.

We didn't see my grandparents very often but ds was fond of my grandfather and has asked fairly often when we will be seeing him next. I went up to see him in hospital last weekend and ds really wanted to come (obviously I didn't take him, he was very ill and really not appropriate for a 4 year old to be on the ward). He is familiar with the idea of death etc as we have talked a lot about dh's dad, who died just before ds was born, and I thought it might make it easier for him to come to terms with it and maybe be a nice distraction for my mum and grandma at the wake.

Reasons against: I'm not sure how well he would sit through what would probably be a lengthy service; I am probably doing a reading and dh would be at home with dd (17 months) so am a bit worried about who would look after him when I got up to read. My mum and grandma will probably be in a bit of state. My brother will be there but he is childless and a bit clueless with regard to kids.

Anyone done this? How did it go?!

Chil1234 Thu 02-Dec-10 13:13:33

My DS went to my grandmother's funeral (burial) aged 2. I don't have a partner so it was either we both went or find a babysitter. There were other children of various ages at the service and, although a lot of us grown-ups were upset, the children took it in their stride and helped to make the day a lot less solemn and gloomy than it might have been. My gran would have loved it. If I were you I'd take all your children and DH as well.

rastaClaus Thu 02-Dec-10 13:17:59

I'm sorry about your Grandfather sad

I took DD1 to my Auntie's funeral when she was 13 months old. It was fine. Lots of my family enjoyed seeing her. Someone actually said that my Aunt would have been chuffed knowing DD1 was there which was sweet.

Regarding the reading bit, I would pre-arrange with someone to have your DS during that time, and also explain to your DS that you will talk up the front for a little while but Uncle X or whoever will be with him until you get back to your seat.

DD1 is now 4 and we go to Chapel most Sundays and she will sit (reasonably!) quiet for an hour with a book/puzzle/little box of chopped fruit. She knows that it's quiet time and we have to whisper.

Hope it goes well for you.

Roastchicken Thu 02-Dec-10 13:19:14

I went to several funerals as a kid and would definitely take our children in the same situation. IME funerals of elderly people are not traumatic.

KERALA1 Thu 02-Dec-10 13:23:06

Sorry but think its a terrible idea. We had a funeral recently and didnt take our 4 year old or 2 year old. Personally just dont think its appropriate at all. There were no other children there, people were upset and crying which I know would have upset and confused my 4 year old. Not sure about the theory of your child cheering up other family members. They are the centre of our world but mourners will have alot to think about/deal with and may not welcome the chirrupings of a small child just then.

Then you have the stress of worrying whether he will make a noise, sit still etc when you really want to be focussing on the funeral/your reading. I actually cannot see any upsides at all to taking children to funerals, unless you are in Chil's position where you dont have a choice. And actually at least a 2 year old wont have a clue what is actually going on.

LiegeAndLief Thu 02-Dec-10 13:25:13

Oh well that's good that you don't all think I'm mad! Just to clarify, am not at all worried about ds being traumatised, am more worried about him disturbing the service, although he probably would sit quietly if bribed with snacks etc. I don't think there will be any other children there as there are no other small children in the family, and obviously my grandfather's friends are much older.

Just spoken to dh and he suggested we all go up but just take the kids to the wake, which maybe is a good compromise, although am still considering taking ds to the actual service...

geogteach Thu 02-Dec-10 13:25:19

I would take him and the younser one as well. I took kids this age to my grandmothers funeral, older one wanted to go and younger too young to understand, other guests loved having them there. I left 3 year old dd (at the time) behind as she didn't want to go and i knew she would find it hard. If dh is there he can have them when you read, and take them to the back if necessary (i had to do this with my younger one towards the end as he had had enough but it was fine that he was there.

muriel76 Thu 02-Dec-10 13:25:20

I would take him. As Chil234 says children do take these things in their stride, and it is nice to give him an opportunity to say goodbye (for want of a better phrase)

My sons' gt grandad is currently terminally ill. They are 5 and 7 and I expect to take them to the funeral when the time comes unless they really don't want to come.

They have been to see him very poorly in hospital too and they took that in their stride. They didn't seem to notice how awful he looked they just enjoyed chatting with him/at him! Luckily when the man in the next bed died during the visit they thought he had simply fallen over, I think that might have been a bit too much!

Someone in my family took their 4 yr old to see his grandma in the chapel of rest. She died very suddenly and had cared for him 3 days a week so they felt strongly he ought to be involved in the whole goodbye process. He was totally unphased and just kissed her and said goodbye apparently.

Can't see myself doing that! but we all have to decide what is best for our own family.

LiegeAndLief Thu 02-Dec-10 13:26:22

Sorry Kerala cross posts, actually those are all my concerns too! I suppose I am really thinking about it from ds's point of view which is probably not the right way.

LiegeAndLief Thu 02-Dec-10 13:28:07

Oh by the way would definitely not take dd, she sill not sit still and quietly at all and I think would be a distraction, especially as there will be no other children.

LiegeAndLief Thu 02-Dec-10 13:28:27

will not sill...

KERALA1 Thu 02-Dec-10 13:31:38

Surely that is the right way though? Not sure others are really going to be affected strongly by whether he is there or not? I know dd also 4 would have been unsettled by going - particularly by seeing trusted adults who are usually "in charge" upset and crying. Sorry to go against the other posts but really disagree there is anything to be gained by taking a 4 year old to a funeral.

Chil1234 Thu 02-Dec-10 13:36:41

But surely death is part of family life? We're happy to include children in all other aspects, but death seems to be the last taboo. Why should children be excluded simply because they might make a noise, fidget or because people they look up to will be shedding a few tears? If we were more inclusive and open about all our feelings with children right from the start - rather than always presenting a brave face that never flickers - we might be a little healthier emotionally.

muriel76 Thu 02-Dec-10 13:38:11

I think if the child feels they would like to go, that is a good reason. If they have been close to the deceased when they were alive then shutting them out and denying them the goodbye that the rest of the family have is unfair in my book.

Of course some children would not want to go. I know some adults who avoid funerals too!

Plumm Thu 02-Dec-10 13:38:49

I took DD(4) to my nan's funeral - she was fine with it all, and I think the family liked her being there

JoBo69 Thu 02-Dec-10 13:39:07

I think it's absolutely your decision and is so personal.

My lovely grandmother (91) died a couple of days ago and I've given my 2 dds - who were very close to my nana - the choice about whether they come to the funeral (church service not cemetery):

DD1 is 12 and adamant she wants to come, I happy for her to do this and have told her that she needs to prepare herself for seeing the coffin - which I remember being a shock for me at a similar age - and I will talk to her lots about this.

DD2 is 10 and really undecided. I would never want to push her into coming if she doesn't want to, but in discussions it's transpired that she has a rather macabre 'tv' picture of funerals in her head. She's imagining open coffins, veiled mourners and much wailing/gnashing of teeth etc (poss even a family argument and someone toppling into the grave Eastenders-style??!!). So because of this part of me think that coming to a sedate, family-filled, church service funeral, where we will all be sad but not tragically-distraught (as she was 91 and had a fab life!) might dispell these images once and for all.

Should I try and persuade her to come? Or is she still too young/the wrong age (ie old enough to understand somewhat but young enough to be scarred by it)?

Sorry LiegeAndLief have just realised I am hijacking..... blush

PeppermintCream Thu 02-Dec-10 13:43:23

So sorry to hear your new sad

We've been to two funerals recently. The first was my grandad's, we decided to just take the dcs (aged 1,3 and 5) to the wake. It was a longish church service and a burial. Main reason we didn't take them was because my grandmother felt it was not appropriate, and I was concerned they would be disruptive.
The second was my dad's, we took all three to the service and the wake (cremation, no church service). I had my cousin help, the children behaved really well (along with bribery and snacks) and they asked questions about some of the things that were said.
Although we did different things for different services they both seemed right iyswim.
For me it felt right having the children near by.

zeno Thu 02-Dec-10 13:44:28

Liege, have you asked your other close family how they feel about your taking ds? It may help to sway you in one direction if one or more of them feels strongly about it.

yama Thu 02-Dec-10 13:45:50

Agree with Chil1234. Death should not be hidden from children (I believe).

I'm sure your ds will 'get' what is going on and behave appropriately.

rastaClaus Thu 02-Dec-10 13:46:34

Very well said Chil

KERALA1 Thu 02-Dec-10 13:55:44

Totally disagree Chil but there you go! Its not hiding it from children its taking the decision to avoid a situation you know will upset them. Plenty of other times in life when they will be faced with sadness why thrust it on them? I wasnt taken to my grandfather's funeral (I was 6) and I still have a clear and disturbing memory of my usually cheerful granny sobbing in the kitchen. Was so glad my parents didnt take me to the actual funeral that was hard enough to see and process at that age.

Plus as an adult selfishly I want to be thinking/focussing on the funeral/person who has died rather than being distracted by small children. As we all know everything is all about them if they are present and at a funeral I want some space to think of the deceased. But horses for courses.

Elk Thu 02-Dec-10 14:00:08

Hi, sorry about your grandfathers death.

In case it helps you this last year I took my dds, then 3 and 6 to my grandfathers funeral. There was a service, a burial and a wake at a hotel. I took books for them to look at during the service and the funeral directors provided lollipops for them!!

They were well behaved during the service although dd1 thought the hymmns were sad (I've never like all things bright and beautiful either).
DD1 was very interested in the coffin going into the ground and by that point dd2 was humming in my ear to the amusement of some people close to us.

I know that my mother liked seeing her grandchildren there and many other people commented it was nice to see the the great grandchildren at the funeral.

However, this is a very divisive issue and people will be very vocal on both sides (and are unlikely to be persuaded to change their minds).

I believe that my dd's now know that funerals are sad but not scary, it is alright to cry and that family and friends will be around to support you. IMO these are very important lessons.

LarkinSky Thu 02-Dec-10 14:07:42

Hi, I'm sorry about your grandfather's death.

I too would take both your children, and certainly DS. I remember going to funerals from that age, and I think it is a good and healthy thing, and also a boon for the rest of the family.

Funerals of elderly people are usually a celebration of their life.

Seeing children at them reminds people of the circle of life, of how the deceased lives on in his great-grandson (in this case) and of the fact hope always lies with children and the next generation.

I've seen adults behave badly at funerals (talking in loud whispers through readings, for example), so I wouldn't worry about your little boy innocently making a squeak or two, he probably won't anyway.

I think he'll get a lot of smiles, and probably cuddles, after the service, and your Gran and Mum will be proud to have him there.

ISNT Thu 02-Dec-10 14:15:47

We have done this recently, DH's mother passed away after a long illness.

We asked DH's father and he said he absolutely wanted the children there (their only grandchildren, DD1 was 3.5 and DD2 was 1.5).

Explained to DD that grandma has died after she was very ill (DD had seen her in hospital so she knew about that) and that it was sort of a party for everyone to think about grandma and remember how nice she was but that people would be sad and maybe crying.

They were fine on the day although they both ended up being taken out of the service after 20 mins or so by my parents who weren't close to MIL so that was OK. Then we stayed at the church rather than all going to the crematorium and back (DH went) and when everyone got back there was the food and stuff. I think it takes the edge off if there are young children there - sort of highlights the circle or life and all of that kind of stuff - and a happy child perks people up no end. And the children were fine - children are pretty resilient about this sort of stuff I think.

So from me it's a definite yes, if you want to. But maybe see if there's anyone who can go to take DD out of the service if needs be (if you don't want to have to step out).

ISNT Thu 02-Dec-10 14:21:10

Why not ask your parents and grandparents if they want the children there?

If so, one or both.

If they want them there then take DH and both children, then DH will be there to take them outside etc if they get too noisy.

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