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To ask would you take young children to a funeral?

(185 Posts)
LinkyPlease Mon 15-Jan-18 23:21:10

Just wondering what the general view is on taking a baby and a 4 yr old to a funeral. It's my granny's, she is 93 and has been given just a few weeks more in all likelihood.

For some reason my brain is processing this by trying to work out if I should bring my children to her funeral. She's had a lovely long life, so while people will be sad it won't be a sombre tragic occasion, more a celebration of a lovely life by all her descendents.

Of her children one (my uncle) thinks children probably shouldn't attend, whilst the other (my mum) is more inclined to think children should be included so as to demystify and so they don't worry and imagine all sorts of weird goings on.

I'm not sure. I'm tempted to say baby can come but 4 yr old might be whingy and potentially make a scene by being bored. She's pretty well behaved compared to most 4 yr olds... but she is 4! Family we haven't seen for years will be there, and I'd like my daughter to meet them. But using a funeral as an excuse to show off my lovely children doesn't seem right.

Please don't flame me. I'm just wondering how many people think no and how many yes


BackforGood Mon 15-Jan-18 23:48:54

It is asked a lot on MN, and I'm often surprised how many would.
I've been to a lot of funerals that are outside my own family (I am a Church goer and sometimes facilitate funerals of people I don't know, as well as sometimes attending funerals of people I've known through a couple of hobbies, volunteering things, so quite a range of people) and I never see little children at funerals in any of these situations.

So no, I woldn't take them to the service. If it were practical, then I would, however, take them to the 'tea' afterwards, when the mood is lighter and the atmosphere less formal. That will, of course depend on the practicalities of the arrangements.

Aquamarine1029 Mon 15-Jan-18 23:49:23

Absolutely take them. ESPECIALLY the four year old. Death is a part of life, and being a part of a celebration of someone's life is a very important experience. The sooner the better. Feeble attempts to shield children from basic realities, that don't involve violence or improper behaviour, of course, does them no favors.

Viviennemary Mon 15-Jan-18 23:54:38

No I wouldn't. Personally I do not believe funeral services are the place for young children. If family are happy for them to attend the wake then fine.

SpacePenguin Mon 15-Jan-18 23:58:16

If they had a relationship with her, then of course they should be there. It's important for your older child to say goodbye along with everyone else. When celebrating the life and death of the oldest members of our family, the youngest generations are always asked to be involved in the ceremony in some way - it is comforting for everyone to see their descendants continuing the circle of life.

If course, the baby is not going to understand, but might bring you comfort. Bring a small colouring book/markers and some small quiet toys for entertaining your 4 year old, if necessary during or after.

If they didn't really know her well, and you will be very upset, then I could see why you might be better off not having to deal with little ones.

RyvitaBrevis Mon 15-Jan-18 23:59:33

I went to a grandparent's funeral as a 3 year old, and it was fine. I remember it a little but mostly have been told about because it was a very sad occasion and my family was grateful for the distraction of having me there. So, a bit different.

Gladiola44 Tue 16-Jan-18 00:02:18

Yes of course, it’s important to get them used to all different environments so they are prepared for later life.

SuperBeagle Tue 16-Jan-18 00:04:25

It's perfectly normal to take babies and young children to funerals where I'm from (not the UK, but one of the UK's off-shoots).

Death should not be a taboo topic.

Sorry about your grandmother. flowers

Jenijena Tue 16-Jan-18 00:08:53

I took my 4yo and baby to their GGrandmother’s funeral. It was a long way from home, but my niece and nephew (similar ages) didn’t come, and stayed in the wake venue with my sIL. We sat at the back, 4 yo was fine apart from needing the loo (and we’d sussed it out already) and baby slept through, which was VERY unusual and very welcome.

I’m glad I did it. I’d taken the 4yo when he was 2 to a funeral and spent nearly all the time outside but this time he was quiet, coloured in, and finally asked ‘but mummy, where is the box’. We didn’t go to the crem.

buntingqueen Tue 16-Jan-18 00:15:47

Yes, I absolutely would, and did recently. They were not the only children there, and I see no harm in them being there provided someone takes them outside if they are noisy. She is a relative of theirs too, so why shouldn’t they go? I feel very strongly that death should not be a taboo subject.

Tortycat Tue 16-Jan-18 00:22:59

Sorry to hear about your gm. My dc are 3.5 and 1.5 and youngest has sadly been to 3 funerals already. My fil died very suddenly earlier this year and dp attended but i just took children to the wake afterwards in case they disrupted things. It def helped lighten the mood afterwards. A very elderly friend/ neighbour also died recently and i took them both to the service, as i had no childcare and i know she wouldn't have minded (and she had no family in this country and other friends didnt mind). Luckily both were very good throughout and I'm really glad i went. As an alternative perspective though, my dc and nephews came to the interrment of my dad's ashes recently and i was upset as nephews (3 & 4)kept asking questions all the way through which was very distracting and i wish they hadnt have come. So i think it depends on the wishes of the main mourners and how you think dc will act, how much you can hold it together so as not to upset them, and a back up plan if it's not working out. That said i do think that in the circumstances of your gm, and if you think she would have wanted them there, it will be fine

squishysquirmy Tue 16-Jan-18 00:23:21

I've taken a 3 yo to two funerals which occurred in close succession.
I think it depends on how other members of the family feel, on the feel of the funeral and on the child. If you do decide to take her, it is worth having a back up plan and seeing how she is on the day.

The funerals my dd attended were both of elderly in laws, and the close family had said they didn't mind dd coming. I sat near the back on an aisle seat to make a quick get away if she started making noise. Could your dh do the same?
For the first, she sat perfectly still and quiet throughout. Not a peep. It had been mentioned that there may be chocolate cake after for those who had sat quietly Although the funeral was sad, it was not traumatically so iyswim - it was the celebration of a long, full life and dd was fascinated by the picture of her ggm on the order of service as a little girl. I think the atmosphere would be different if the funeral was for a younger person, or where the death had come as a shock.

The second funeral I took her to, also an elderly in law, dd started making noise about 2 minutes in. (She was complaining that she wanted to sit near her daddy, who was seated near the front).
She wouldn't be shushed so I swept her out as subtly as I could to minimise the disruption to others, and after a short temper tantrum in the car park we went for a walk around the grounds.

If you have a partner or dh who could do this for you, I would ask them to. It is a shame for them to miss out on the funeral too, but unless they were very close to the deceased I think its a reasonable thing to ask. I think it is entirely appropriate for children to attend wakes, even if they are a bit noisy and boisterous.

squishysquirmy Tue 16-Jan-18 00:24:01

flowers for your loss.

mummmy2017 Tue 16-Jan-18 00:26:11

Take them both, we had my niece and nephew go, it means you can relax and everyone will love to meet your 2, the 4 year old may well become shy, but it's alwasy nice to see the new family memebers, when saying goodbye to the old.

RideOn Tue 16-Jan-18 00:30:15

I would, I think little children are a positive distraction. I think particularly as it is an expected death.
I think it’s ok for her to meet your other relatives at a funeral.

OhBeggerItsMorning Tue 16-Jan-18 00:43:58

We had a funeral service for my MIL last week and took our boys, they were 16, 14, 10 and 7. In our circumstances we felt it was important they had a chance to say goodbye to their gran, and to remember her life from the memories that were spoken about. They knew I would take them to a different room if they couldn't 'handle it' (DH couldn't as he was officiating) and we'd explained beforehand about what was to happen so it wasn't a surprise.

We knew they would probably be OK with it, so took them. Their 6 year old cousin also went. I had been told by FIL a few days beforehand that he wasn't going, that he'd only be at the wake, but I think BIL and his wife gave him the chance to go because we were taking our boys, he wouldn't have gone if our DC hadn't.

I think it is totally up to you (and their dad) if you take your children. Also, if you don't take them would you be able to leave them with a babysitter or will you not be able to go? If not, that would be another reason to take them. If they go and 'cause a fuss', you would miss the service if you took them out, therefore it's a waste of time going; same goes for someone else at the funeral taking them out. What about finding a babysitter that would sit at the back with them and take them out if needed so a family member or friend wouldn't need to leave with them if the need arose?

Also for us, we live in the south west, the funeral was in the north east (so took 3 days in total) and family are all over - Midlands, London direction, Scotland etc. so it was also an opportunity to catch up with family we haven't seen for years. Some had only met one or two of our boys, some had met none (or me, we've been married 21 years!), so it was also a rare opportunity to get together with family we hadn't had a chance to see for ages. It's not a problem 'showing off' your children, as long as you don't detract from your GMs memory.

OhBeggerItsMorning Tue 16-Jan-18 00:46:31

We were also in the front rows so couldn't extract ourselves without being noticed!

(They were the only children there apart from a couple of teenagers).

DunedinGirl Tue 16-Jan-18 00:57:29

I would take them, though I would perhaps ask the 4 year old whether they wanted to go.

Youngmystery Tue 16-Jan-18 05:55:44

Yes take them. I went to my grandads funeral as a 4 year old. Understood what was happening and yeah I cried but better to educate early about death than to hide it.

Rinceoir Tue 16-Jan-18 06:04:08

I’m Irish where it is perfectly normal and expected that children will come to funerals. I think it’s a good idea to demystify death as early as possible (as someone said upthread). As long as they are removed from the service if they are acting up obviously.

ElizaDontlittle Tue 16-Jan-18 06:05:29

Most of those who work with bereaved children or in end of life care will say yes, the younger the better. It's part of life and it's good for them as they grow up and it's good for everyone else too.
Shielding older children as per a PP can be particularly damaging and makes them likely to inherit your hang ups regarding death. This is a celebration of a long life well lived.
If you want to read more, Winston's Wish is the best place to start, they have an excellent website and bookshop.

Shineystrawberrylover Tue 16-Jan-18 06:07:26

It's usual for those organising the funeral to decide and to respect those wishes.

LolitaLempicka Tue 16-Jan-18 06:11:05

What would granny have thought? I bet she would have felt joy at your children under any circumstances. I think it is natural and healthy to have children at funerals

Wallywobbles Tue 16-Jan-18 06:11:22

I'd say yes. But you need a friend on Point to help keep them occupied if you are part of the readings. I think your mum is right. Funerals to my family are a celebration of someone's life. They are for the living and can be joyful as well as sad.

LolitaLempicka Tue 16-Jan-18 06:12:23

Oh and I bet your granny would want you to show of those babies. It is a final act of love for her.

BeingATwatItsABingThing Tue 16-Jan-18 06:13:37

I took my 18 mo to my DNan’s funeral. She was a delight and she cheered everyone up afterwards.

She also provided me with comfort during. She could see I was upset so gave me plenty of cuddles. I had a staff of cheddars in case she got restless.

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