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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


SDTGisAnEvilWolefGenius Tue 23-Jan-18 13:44:20

I think it has to depend on the child and the circumstances. In our case, we feel it worked well bringing our children to my father's funeral, despite them being young - but we knew they would behave, and had brought my MIL with us, so they could be taken out if necessary. In the event, they all behaved very well (but as I said, we were regular churchgoers, so they knew how to behave, and we didn't need to bring books or toys to keep them quiet).

We had also talked it over with my mum and my sister beforehand, and both were happy for us to bring the boys, knowing that we would make sure they behaved and were quiet, or they would be taken outside.

Unless it is specifically decided in advance, and everyone is OK with it, I do NOT think it is acceptable to bring children in fancy dress costumes, as a previous poster described, or to bring anything to entertain them that would create a disturbance at the service - so a book might be OK, if the child is one who will sit quietly and read, but not a noisy toy, or a lot of different toys, the getting out of which will be a disturbance - if that makes any sense.

I also think that, if you know your child is likely to be noisy or disruptive, or to get upset at what is happening, then it is better for them not to go - for their sake and for the sake of the other people there.

I do also think that funerals vary - some are very sombre, quiet occasions, where any noise from a child would be noticeable and unwelcome, and others are less sombre, more a celebration of the person's life, and there a child's presence, even if not quiet and unobtrusive, would not be a problem.

So, in short, you need to know what sort of funeral it is, what sort of child you have and how they are likely to behave at the funeral, the views of the other close relatives of the deceased, and what support you will have - and then you can look at all of these factors together, and decide whether it is appropriate for this particular child to attend this particular funeral.

MuddlingThroughLife Tue 23-Jan-18 11:30:13

Sorry for your loss.

I would say that 4 might be a bit too young unless you had someone who could take her out if she gets upset and/or noisy.

We held my 10 year old son's funeral last week, so had quite a few children there who were mainly his age, some younger. They were all very upset.

Brighteyes27 Tue 23-Jan-18 11:23:52

No. Personally, I think the child needs to be old enough to understand and behave appropriately.
Last year at a family funeral my two 12 and 13 found it hard enough. Their nephews came the 4 year old was completely running a mock and understandably didn’t understand. His 6/7 year old brother was a bit better behaved but mid service he let out the most horrendous really loud crying sounds. It was an extremely hard day for him.

Hillingdon Tue 23-Jan-18 11:14:06

Here Here Pink. I agree with you. This isn't about teaching children about death at your expense.

Don't get me started on children at weddings but that is another thread entirely!

caffeine99 Sat 20-Jan-18 21:42:18

Mine are similarly aged and I was in a similar situation to you... when my grandmother died I sent the children to crèche as normal on the day of the funeral.

It would’ve been nice for the children to see all of their extended family but having them at the funeral would’ve been difficult for me as I would’ve been focussed on them instead of the funeral.

Would it be an option for someone to look after your children during the funeral but then bring them to you afterwards so they could spend time with the extended family? I’ve seen that option work well with children and families in the past

PinkSparklyPussyCat Sat 20-Jan-18 16:44:10

@FuzzyCustard I agree with everything you’ve said. DM was 86 when she died and I fell apart and I still struggle to talk about her without crying. I didn’t want some kid being brought along to be taught about death or, even worse, to provide some light relief.

Grief does make you selfish. My Mum’s funeral was about what I wanted and what I hoped she would have wanted (she left no instructions) and I make no apologies for that.

Megs4x3 Fri 19-Jan-18 00:01:14

Oops! Forgot to tag @YourVagesty

Megs4x3 Thu 18-Jan-18 23:59:39

Heavens! That sounds awful and really disrespectful.

TheClaws Thu 18-Jan-18 23:58:12

I wouldn't force anyone to take a child if they don't want to but I think it's sad we aren't prepared to allow children to be a part of the ritual, especially if they want to

Possibly taking GottaGetMoving out of context, but many posters, when discussing taking children to funerals, were having to keep them occupied with colouring, snacks, stickers, drinks, BF, reading, etc., so they wouldn’t make a fuss or get upset. How does that fit with “being part of the ritual”?

Branleuse Thu 18-Jan-18 20:54:39

At my nanas funeral, my mum got a lot of comfort from my 6 year old being there.

YourVagesty Thu 18-Jan-18 20:53:16

I agree Fuzzy, those who feel the children haven't exactly 'brightened up their day' are hardly likely to voice their opinion.

I've talked about it before on MN but one of the most jaw dropping things i've experienced was at the funeral of a friend of mine who died of cancer in his early forties. Terrible. Anyway, some friends of his saw fit to bring their children to the funeral dressed as fairies and pirates. They let them run riot playing with their wands and cutlasses etc. They wanted to teach them some lesson about death not being a bad thing etc. I considered it one of the most selfish things i've ever seen but I never said anything. The day was disorienting enough without more upset.

PourMeAGlass Thu 18-Jan-18 20:49:43

At my Mums funeral, my then 5 and 10 year old, told me they were going, I could never have told them no. On the day, however my 10 year old DD couldn't go into the crematorium and went for a walk with her Dad, I went in with my 5 year old DS and honestly couldn't of got through it without him, he was my rock and so brave, braver than me.

If you want them there, let them thanks

seven201 Thu 18-Jan-18 20:40:32

I took my dd to my grandfathers when she was about 10 months. She was actually fine but I couldn't relax as I realised half way through her fire engine was in my bag and I was terrified it would start shouting about putting out fires. It didn't luckily. My sister brought her 5 1/2 and 3 year old. 5 1/2 fine, 3 year old (who is prone to some tantrums) had had a shit journey and was not in the mood for coming in. So he stayed outside and screamed with his father looking after him. Thing was the dad thought they were far enough away for the funeral not be able to hear but he was wrong! My sister went and got him and he was ok once in the room. My sister was very stressed though.

I personally like children at funerals, but if your uncle doesn't want them there then you should probably respect his wishes.

savingmysanity Thu 18-Jan-18 20:31:24

I go to a lot of funerals through work (Elderly care). If you think your child can behave for what will likely be half an hour of sitting still I see no reason not to. As you said demystifying something that should not be a taboo can only be positive.

Side note: The nicest funeral I've ever been to was for a client who had 10 great grandchildren (spanning about 18 months to 9/10), the kids were a bit mithered about sitting down for so long for 5 minutes but it was nice to see the whole family come together to say goodbye.

FuzzyCustard Thu 18-Jan-18 20:28:29

And thank you for the good wishes Megs

FuzzyCustard Thu 18-Jan-18 20:27:25

I'm not commenting on your circumstances ska, only on my own and on my own feelings.

Grief IS selfish.

SkaPunkPrincess Thu 18-Jan-18 20:23:49

fuzzycustard not everyone has someone to leave children with or can afford a baby sitter.
Are you saying I should have left my deeply grieving husband to travel 2 hours away by himself when he needed me because I might have offended someone else? It's quite selfish to decide your grief is more important than another's and that they should stay away no? surely you would only be going to the funeral of a very close friend or family member anyway?

Deciduous Thu 18-Jan-18 20:20:45

Yes, wouldn't even be a question for us. But it's the norm in my family and culture/wider community. I've learned from MN that some others feel differently.

Megs4x3 Thu 18-Jan-18 20:18:51

Of course we can agree to disagree and I wasn't suggesting that a 4-year-old's grief was more important than yours. I was thinking more in terms of accommodating the adults. I'm so sorry to hear about your DH. Badly behaved children are a different thing altogether and I would hope the parents would ask for and respect your wishes. Perhaps thats what is influencing me - I was asked my opinion and was able to suggest that chikdren come to the evening service and not the long one the next day. Everyone was able to arrange child care for the funeral and people who wanted to bring children came the previous evening and remained child free the next day. I know not everyone has that option. I do hope your DH gets better soon. flowers (I think if I knew children could not behave I'd be much less ambivalent about saying that they needed to be kept away.)

FuzzyCustard Thu 18-Jan-18 20:15:10

Still despairing at the number of people insisting their children have brightened up a funeral. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but I know it wouldn't work for me and I can't be the only one. And I imagine that those who don't want to see kids running about (and look at how many people like a child free wedding as an example) aren't going to say. You'll only hear the positive feedback.

ArcheryAnnie Thu 18-Jan-18 20:11:46

Aren't funerals public events that you can't stop someone from coming?

(I've had friends die who were estranged from their parents, but because they died intestate, their parents controlled the funeral and tried to exclude everyone that the deceased actually loved.)

Needmorehands Thu 18-Jan-18 20:07:43

Dh's lovely Grandma dies when DS2 was a couple of months old so he came to the funeral with me, drank his boob quietly and fell asleep for teh bulk of it. My mum had the older 2 (aged 2 and 4) and met us at the bunfight afterwards where they brightened people up brilliantly!

SkaPunkPrincess Thu 18-Jan-18 20:04:01

I had no choice, had to take my 4 year old and my baby to a funeral in April 2017.
We talked a lot in advance to my 4 year old about what he would see and what would happen and that some people might be sad.

It was fine. He had lots of questions for a while after and I answered them as best I could. He was unscathed and very well behaved because I had laid the ground beforehand and he knew what to expect therefore how to behave.

People generally like little children at funerals, they bring not and a reminder that life continues on. My baby brought much comfort and had non stop cuddles all day. It was Fine, I would recommend having someone that can be there to help you though if you can. It alleviates the worry in case they do play up.

FuzzyCustard Thu 18-Jan-18 19:28:07

I considered my mother's grief to be the most important, probably followed by that of my sister and me. Honestly, not a 4 year old to whom it meant nothing.

I worry at the moment as I have a sick DH and I know that his family would take your view and small people (who I know do not know how to behave) would imagine they would be welcome at his funeral. I shall have to think of how to handle that if it all goes pear shaped, which is perhaps why I am thinking so much about it.

But we can agree to differ. I'm happy with that!

Megs4x3 Thu 18-Jan-18 18:58:50

I see what you are saying, FuzzyCustard, but as a daughter who buried a parent recently, I was also thinking 'what does everyone else need to do here?' I wasn't the only one saying goodbye and my grief and how I wanted to handle it wasn't more important than anyone else's. Others younger than I had just as close a relationship to grieve the loss of. Ideally, everyone in the family should be considered, I think.

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