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To Say No to DSs Attending FIL's Funeral?

(55 Posts)
Highlander Thu 22-Sep-11 14:49:22

he's dying as I type, from dementia. Although nearly 94, it will not be a 'happy' elderly person's funeral as poor FIL has suffered tremendously in the last week. SIL and MIL have been by his bedside constantly and they are absolutely traumatised by having to watch FIL die so slowly. He is very comfortable, but doped to the eyeballs with sedatives and morphine.

We have to fly to see them and DH has been back and forward over the week. He's there now and will stay until FIL dies, hopefully in the next 48 hours.

There will be a wake, which DH doesn't think is appropriate for the DSs, more because it goes on for a few days and we'll be expected to stay in the house to receive visitors.

I don't object to the DSs going to a funeral, but MIL says it will be over an hour and she wants us there.

I'm a bit worried about the hysteria; DH says SIL is in orbit at the moment and we'll be under the same roof.

aldiwhore Thu 22-Sep-11 14:50:31

How old is DSS? That would make the difference for me.

Highlander Thu 22-Sep-11 14:50:33

I really,really don't know what to do. The DSs are 7 and nearly 5 and I think us all cooped up in the house and then an emotional funeral will be a bit much.

Ooopsadaisy Thu 22-Sep-11 14:51:15

How old are DSs - surely it's their decision?

thisisyesterday Thu 22-Sep-11 14:52:45

well, i went to my grandpa's at 5, and my grandma's at 8 and I am really glad I was allowed to go.
in fact i was very, very upset at my grandma's because i was taken to a friends house after the service and not allowed to go to the wake... i really wanted to be with my mum

obviously you know your kids better than me, but don't rule it out simply because of their ages. if they would like to go then I would take them. iot's horrible being left out of something important to your family just because people think you're too little

Mandyville Thu 22-Sep-11 14:53:07

Can you stay in a B&B to give everyone some space? Or would that cause ructions? You could sell it as 'leaving space in the house for relatives who really need it'...?

Ooopsadaisy Thu 22-Sep-11 14:54:31

X posted!

Age 5 & 7 - then I guess it's your decision then.

I wouldn't want my dcs to have been at this type of funeral at that age.

My dcs went to their first funeral aged 9 & 6. It was a very happy "celebration of life" type funeral and the coffin wasn't moved "behind the curtain" until we'd left the room.

Are your dcs used to this type of formality?

Highlander Thu 22-Sep-11 14:54:34

The wake is before the burial; FIL will be brought home for 48 hours so that his body can be viewed by local rubberneckers.

aldiwhore Thu 22-Sep-11 14:55:13

Ah right, that's a bit long isn't it? Though do you have to be there 24/7? Could you take the boys out for a few hours each day?

I don't think it will disturb them NOT to go. I think maybe that given the length of the wake then that wouldn't be in their best interests or fair on the rest of the family.

I'm so sorry to hear about your FIL, dementia is a foul illness, I'm watching my own FIL fade too, the wake and funeral may not be as hysterical as you fear though, I remember thinking my Grandpa's funeral would be awful (again long slow dementia death) but actually it was a huge sigh of relief and a chance for the first time in years to remember the man he was, not the shell he became.

I don't think the kids will be damaged by attending IF you are able to take them out of the environment at times, provide distraction for them and comfort them. My concern would be everyone else. Would your DH feel able to grieve if he's constantly trying to hold it in for the kids' sake?

Tough call. x

AMumInScotland Thu 22-Sep-11 14:55:58

Normally I'd say its important for them to have thie chance to "say goodbye" to a grandparent, assuming they've had some level of relationship with him.

But if you have to be cooped up in the house and everyone is beside themselves, then that's maybe not the best environment for young children. Could you not just stay somewhere nearby and only go for the funeral itself, or is that not an option? One hour of seeing people very upset (which they can understand as a concept) would be better than a couple of days of it non-stop.

Highlander Thu 22-Sep-11 14:56:58

They are not used to church, but obviously can sit for school assembly etc (well DS2 has just started school).

I did think about a hotel but I think MIL would be offended.

Aaaaargh, what's the right thing to do.....

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 22-Sep-11 14:58:03

I'd take them along. Children don't view things quite the same way as adults do. They are generally a lot less sentimental than older people. Yes there will be people crying but that's normal and, if you think about a child's average day, they're quite used to tears and tantrums. You never know... SIL might calm down if there are children present. I know the presence of all the children at my gran's funeral a few years ago seemed to elevate the mood and make it far less miserable than it might have been.

Highlander Thu 22-Sep-11 14:58:28

Have to collect sprigs. Will be back

Highlander Thu 22-Sep-11 14:58:45

Sorry, sprogs

aldiwhore Thu 22-Sep-11 14:59:33

What does your DH want to do? His call maybe?

Look either way, I do not believe that your SS's will be 'damaged' though they may be upset.

I feel greatly for you that this decision has been left on your shoulders. I would ask your DH exactly what he wants you to do, and that you will do it. I think the boys will need you whatever you decide.

GingerWrath Thu 22-Sep-11 15:00:32

My DD then age 4 didn't go to the service but went to the wake, but that was in a pub.

loudee Thu 22-Sep-11 15:01:28

Do your DCs know him?

AMumInScotland Thu 22-Sep-11 15:02:57

Obviously you know what your MIL and SILs normal personalities are like - do they tend to be a bit "dramatic" in their reactions to things? Obviously they have the right to grieve however they want, and I don't mean they'd be in the wrong to express it! But if they aren't usually like that, then you may find they've already done the worst of the grieving before he finally goes, and may be more "quietly relieved" once it's actually happened IYSWIM?

lesley33 Thu 22-Sep-11 15:05:21

I think it would be good to let them go to the funeral if you think think they will behave fine. Just warn them that people are very very sad because FIL has died and so some people might cry. And be aware that if your DC were very close to gf they might cry - which is fine.

Unless your family are prone to hysteria and drama, I think this is very very unlikely at the funeral. I have been to a number of funerals where people's death has been traumatic and slow as well as young people who have died sadly without warning. Nobody has been hysterical at the funeral. Crying yes, but not hysterical.

My OH has said many times that the family thought her too young to attend GF's funeral at 6 and really regrets not being allowed to go.

However if you think your DC won't behave - have they been to church or a service before, for example - then you shouldn't take them.

Ifancyashandy Thu 22-Sep-11 15:05:24

I went with my friend to her fathers funeral when her kids were 7&9 - my role (apart from supporting friend) was to take the kids out if it all became too much. But it didn't and when asked, just before the service, if the wanted to go in, they did. Personally I think it's important that kids learn about cycles of life and death and see mourning as a natural part of being a member of a family - think it normalises grief. And as others have said, they process emotions differently to adults to a certain extent.

Could you arrange with a friend / less involved family member to take them for a walk if it becomes too much for them?

lesley33 Thu 22-Sep-11 15:07:50

I would agree as well that by the funeral generally the more dramatic displays of grief that are a result of shock, tend to have gone. And dc's will be fine with a few people crying quietly. Just make sure to warn them.

greenzebra Thu 22-Sep-11 15:15:43

Do the kids know? If they do when it happens I would ask them do they want to go to the funeral. My paternal grandad died when I was 7 and my brother was 5, and I remember we really wanted to go, but our grandmother wouldnt allow it, my brother and I had to stay at our neighbours while mum and dad went to the funeral and wake we played in the garden but most of the time we were talking about what was going on and crying. Two days later I went to school and was found in the bathroom crying my eyes out, I had to be sent home. The only way to console me and and my brother was to take us to the crematorium where he was cremated and to see the flowers and the garden that his ashes were to be spread. On mymothers side of the family children always go to the funeral, I went to my great grandads at the age of 15 months and my mum was told by many relatives what a joy it was to see a baby at such a sad time.

I think though if you dont want to stay at the house then that is your choice and I think it would be better for the kids not to see all that it might make their grief worse to bare.

catsrus Thu 22-Sep-11 15:24:47

I wasn't allowed to go to my grandfather's funeral when i was 5 - I still remember how upset I was and I'm 56 now!

Sounds like the funeral will be in Ireland(?) or somewhere like Italy with lots of emotion and coming and going - might be a bit of a culture shock but also might be a really positive experience for them of how communities deal with death.

TBH while the whole 'death watch' thing is difficult when it goes on like this it is more difficult watching someone struggle, the fact he's doped up is a blessing really.

You say your MIL wants them there - so I would say go, but they will take their cues from how you react to this strange new environment, so if you think you won't cope well with it then maybe not - you really will have to enter into their culture to some extent.

Crosshair Thu 22-Sep-11 15:26:21

I didnt attened a furneral till I was in my 20's. My parents went without me to my grandparents furnerals. Personally Im glad but everyone deals with things differently.

Highlander Thu 22-Sep-11 15:55:15

DH is a bit clueless, he has no strong opinions either way.

I don't think they will be upsetbby the funeral at all, it's the hanging about the house with a dead body and accompanying hysteria that isn't appropriate in my mind.

There is a solution somewhere......

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