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Taking children to the Chapel of Rest. I don't know what to do.

(18 Posts)
LadyDamerel Thu 14-Jul-11 09:41:55

My lovely Grandpa died on Monday. He's the first person the dcs have known who has died so they are full of questions (they're 7.6, 5.11 and 4.6). They were asking where he was between now and the funeral so I explained about the chapel of rest and how people could go and see him if they wanted.

All 3 asked if they could go and see him.

I'm torn. DH thinks no, I'm tending towards saying yes but don;t know if it will be too much for them. It's not something I've ever had to think about and it's so far out of normal that I have no idea how they may react. They are all coming to the funeral, Grandpa would have wanted that but the chapel of rest is just a bit different.

Part of me thinks it would be good for them to see what being dead means because they don't understand it all, but part of me thinks it may freak them out and I don't want to cause more upset and stress than I'm already dealing with.

Has anyone ever taken their dcs and what happened, or, if you haven't, what is your gut instinct over the right thing to do?

yellowkiwi Thu 14-Jul-11 09:48:43

Sorry about your Grandpa. My Dad died recently and my DS who is 6.5 didn't want to see him at first but then he asked if he could see him. Dad was at home so we went to see him a couple of times before the funeral. I think it did help my DS understand that he really was dead and it gave him a chance to say goodbye. He was fine with it all. His cousins didn't want to see my dad though, so they didn't and that was fine too.

Tillyscoutsmum Thu 14-Jul-11 09:52:28

So sorry about your Grandpa sad.

My aunt died earlier this year and I did consider taking dd but decided against in the end. She had seen her when she was very poorly and it upset her so I wanted her to see that she wasn't poorly any longer. I still have no idea whether I did the right thing. She has been quite traumatised by it - struggling to get to sleep at night, panicking if any of us cough or are sick and waking in the night with bad dreams. She is a bit younger than your dc's though (she was just under 4 when it happened).

Sorry - I realise I have been no help whatsoever sad. Hope someone comes along with some advice

ruddynorah Thu 14-Jul-11 09:53:08

Take them. If you say they can't go it will make them more fearful. I went to see my mum in the chapel of rest when I was just turned 9, and my sister was 6.

DandyGilver Thu 14-Jul-11 09:55:03

Sorry for your loss.

I think that if they want to, then they should.

I took my DS to view my Dad, but he was really too little to understand. Personally I saw my Granny in her coffin at 10 and I was fine with that.

Might be worth checking with another member of family as to how your Grandpa looks. Sometimes people don't look like themselves at all once they have passed and that can be distressing.

LadyDamerel Thu 14-Jul-11 15:44:50

Thank you all for your sympathies and thoughts.

I think I will if they still want to - they can always change their minds when we get there.

I was with him when he died and he was at home for a while so I have seen him. I don't think he looks very different. He was paler, obviously and the lack of animation has altered his face a little but he still (to me) looked like him, iykwim.

Sorry for all your losses too. This is a crap journey that I really do not want to be starting out on.

LadyDamerel Thu 14-Jul-11 19:48:37

DH is still saying no. As it's my Grandpa, it's not unreasonable to accept he isn't keen but still take them, is it?

Ripeberry Thu 14-Jul-11 19:59:59

Years ago, my own mum was MADE to see her gran at rest in the front room of the house. It traumatised her for years and she still talked about it into her 60's.
She was only 7yrs old at the time.

SpringchickenGoldBrass Fri 15-Jul-11 00:39:15

This is a tricky one. My father died a couple of weeks ago, and DS has been asking about seeing the body. I haven't taken him, at least partly because my mother is appalled by the idea and I don't want to go against her wishes right now, partly because I think it would upset DS, who is very imaginative and sensitive. And finally because it has not, really, practically been possible: the undertakers' is near my mum's home, a tricky journey for DS and I and there just hasn't really been time to do it.
LadyD, if your DC are keen and you think they can cope, then take them: your H doesn't get the right of veto if you disagree. Though he does probably get the right not to be the one who has to get up in the night if it does give them nightmares...
I haven't seen my dad myself, either. I'm really not sure I wanted to - he died suddenly at home; my brother, who lives near to my parents, did go round and did go and see Dad before the ambulance crew took him away: I was on a coach to Birmingham at the time so it wasn't possible then.

piprabbit Fri 15-Jul-11 00:54:46

If your children are asking to go, and you have talked to them about what it might be like and they still want to go...I really think you should take them. Otherwise they will think it is scarier than it is, that you are hiding something and (worst of all) that you did not listen to them.

I insisted on being taken to see my sister. My parents were very uncertain but overcame their fears and concerns in order to support me. I was 5yo, Dsis was 3yo. I have no regrets at all, it was absolutely the right thing for me to do.

However, I would suggest that you have another adult with you, so you can easily cope logistically if one child suddenly decides they don't want to follow through once you get to the Chapel of rest.

LadyDamerel Fri 15-Jul-11 11:08:01

Otherwise they will think it is scarier than it is, that you are hiding something and (worst of all) that you did not listen to them.

Definitely. I'll put that point to DH. I think his reasons against taking them stem from his seeing his brother and grandad's bodies, both of who looked very unlike themselves.

I KNOW Grandpa doesn't look any different and, as my aunt pointed out, he'll probably look better than he did when I saw him because he'll have been washed and brushed and dressed.

The point about there being 2 adults I hadn't thought about, thanks for that.

SGB, if your DC are keen and you think they can cope, then take them: your H doesn't get the right of veto if you disagree. Though he does probably get the right not to be the one who has to get up in the night if it does give them nightmares...

smile That's exactly my thinking. I think we'll have to have another chat tonight and if he won't come then I'll ask someone else.

gingegirl Mon 18-Jul-11 22:09:43

I think this is a personal choice however I was 11 when my dad died and i am glad to this day that I never saw him!! I can remember him the way he was! However my 2 year old son passed away just 10 weeks ago and I obviously visited him in the chapel of rest everyday until the funeral and had great comfort from being able to touch him and see him but I am almost 30 now and old enough to deal with it because let's be honest they are not the nicest places in the world!! We also have a 7 year old daughter and there was no way that I would have let her visit!

LadyDamerel Mon 18-Jul-11 23:18:23

Oh Gingegirl, I'm so sorry to hear about your son. I can't even begin to imagine what you are going through. Wishing you lots of strength for the times ahead.

Eaglebird Mon 18-Jul-11 23:44:02

Lady, sorry to hear about your Grandpa.
If your children want to see him at the chapel of rest, I think they should be allowed to go.
Just a thought - if they might want to kiss him goodbye, it would be a good idea to tell them beforehand that Grandpa's skin will feel cold.
My Mam died a few months ago and I saw her at the chapel of rest. I gave her a kiss and was a bit shocked at how cold and hard she felt blush

MyHipsHurt Tue 19-Jul-11 15:57:08

If they are asking to go and see him then I would definitely take them. I have taken my DCs to see their grandad in the chapel of rest. I really think that their imagination is MUCH worse than the reality. And once the funeral's over with, then they will never ever have the opportunity to see his body again. And that, I think, would be even harder to have to deal with afterwards; the 'what ifs'.

Usually the undertakers are used to giving good advice and kind words when relatives visit the deceased and I found his explanations to us all very good. Before we went in to see the body, he said in a very matter of fact, but kind way, that grandad did not need his body any more and that whilst he still looked like he did (when he was alive), his body was no use to him anymore, or something along those lines, and that they could talk to him or touch him (beware of the VERY cold body - you definitely need to explain before they touch him).

My DCs were very distressed when he died, as they had helped to look after him and he seemed to just 'disappear', and that was actually scarier for them then seeing the body. It definitely helped them a lot, as the unknown was much more scarey to them.

I truly believe it helps with grieving to see the body, for both children and adults alike. As long as the DCs are not being forced (which I know you're not) to see someone, then I think it's a very positive thing to do for them, with lots of reassurance, explanations and support from you. Maybe get them to do a picture or a little something to leave with their grandad as a goodbye present.

LadyDamerel Thu 21-Jul-11 19:45:48

Just a quick update, more for anyone digging this thread out in times to come than anything else.

We went this afternoon. DH was still fairly anti- them going so I went on my own with the 3 of them. In the car I explained that Grandpa would be quite pale and be in the coffin in his suit, etc. reassured them that they could change their minds at any point and also said they could touch him if they wanted to but he would feel cold (thank you, whoever mentioned that).

When we arrived at the undertakers he took us into a little anteroom first and had a chat with them about how it was just Grandpa's body and what made him 'him' had gone. He made a very good analogy about a car - a living person is like a car with a driver so it moves, etc. But when you die it's like the driver getting out of the car and walking away so the car can't go anywhere. Even 4yo Ds understood.

He took us through and said he'd be just outside if we had any questions then left us.

All 3 looked at him, stroked his hands and face, asked lots of questions (mostly about the coffin drapes; the lid which was propped against the wall; the little cross to go on the grave afterwards; also things like where his feet were because they were hidden under the drapes and his ears because his hair had got quite long and was over them) and seemed utterly unfazed by it all.

They weren't frightened or upset by any of it - I think being very matter of fact and answering their questions as honestly as I could really helped.

But thanks to everyone who encouraged me to listen to my own convictions, I'm glad I took them smile.

piprabbit Thu 21-Jul-11 21:53:20

I am very relieved for you that it went to smoothly and the undertaker was so supportive too.
Be prepared for more questions over the coming days/weeks as your DCs continue thinking about and trying to understand their experience.

paulapantsdown Thu 21-Jul-11 22:02:14

Well done OP, you followed your heart and made the right choice for kids.
They will never forget the experience, and it sounds like you and undertaker handled it really well - I will try to remember the car analogy for when I need it.

I think we sometimes forget just how wise our children are!

Sorry for your loss btw.

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