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Should a five year old go to a grandfather's funeral?

(17 Posts)
oranges Wed 05-Oct-11 12:55:45

My FIL has died and I can't decide whether to take ds, who is 5, to the funeral. He's grasped the idea of death and that his granddad is a star in the sky, but I think the sight of the coffin, and wailing relatives(no stoicism here - some people will wail out loud, I know) will unnerve him. But I can't also decide what to do with him during the funeral either.
What do you think?

CointreauVersial Wed 05-Oct-11 12:57:57

No hard and fast rules - it depends on the child, whether he will be bored/upset/disruptive etc.

On balance, I would probably not take him, as he is probably too young to grasp most of the significance.

SauvignonBlanche Wed 05-Oct-11 13:00:13

I would, (and have done) if he knew your FIL.
Make you sure you talk to him first about what will happen and explain that it is natural that people may be be upset.

oranges Wed 05-Oct-11 13:04:43

He was very close to FIL and is still very close to MIL. He#s grasped everything about death. I just wonder if the brutal reality of a coffin and a body is too much to ear,

CroissantNeuf Wed 05-Oct-11 13:04:57

A compromise that we've used in the past is to get someone to look after the child elsewhere for the funeral service bit but then let them come to the get-together afterwards.

Relatives would love to see your DS especially those who might not have seen him for a while and it lightens things a little to have a child around (or thats what I've found IME)

haggisaggis Wed 05-Oct-11 13:05:04

One of the nicest funerals I went to there were quite a few grandchildren of the deceased there - and it was lovely. The minister commenetd at the beginning that teh children were welcome - and tat although they may make some noise they were part of the family. There was a bit of noise but I think having teh children there also brought comfort to the family.
But as usual it all comes down to what would be right for your family.

bumblingbovine Wed 05-Oct-11 13:06:43

Ds was 6 years old and he came to my father's funeral service but not the graveside. I only decided he could come becasue Dh was happy to look after him during the service (it was a catholic mass which was an hour long). Ds went out of the church with dh for a bit of a break during the service which was fine buton the whole he did very well with it.

I would not have let ds come if I thought there would be too much wailing/crying etc. My dad's funeral din't have a lot of people crying very loudly or making too much fuss, though quite a lot of people were crying quietly IYSWIM. m Also I thought the graveside would be too emotional for him which it would have been.

I would not have let him come if I had had to look after him during the service as I felt it was my dad's funeral and I wanted to be free from any distractions to say goodbye and I wanted to go to the graveside service which I felt was probably tyoo much for ds to cope with. Luckily dh was on hand to help and ds wanted to come so we came up with this plan of dh looking after ds during the service. and then to ds to the local parkwhile I went to the graveside. Then we all met up for the wake, get together where ds played with a coupkle of his older cousins (aged 10+) who were there .
If I hadn't had dh to look after ds I would have had to arrange some sort of childcare I think but ds is not very easy to manage when he is bored or emotional and I did not feel strong enough to deal with that.

In the end you have to decide what you and your ds want and can cope with and what the funeral is likely to be like and plan accordingly.

Pagwatch Wed 05-Oct-11 13:07:47

I always take my dc (of course, assuming the principal mourners want that)
Part of life.

Francagoestohollywood Wed 05-Oct-11 13:10:12

Yes, I'd take him.

lightroom Wed 05-Oct-11 13:11:13

Really difficult. When my dad died we did was croissantneuf did - someone else looked after ds2 (almost 5 at the time) during the service and brought him to the thing afterwards. To be honest this was mainly because I couldn't handle the idea of looking after him at my dad's funeral and wanted to be able to give my full attention to the service.

DS1 was almost 8 and sobbed throughout. He was devastated, but I don't regret taking him to the funeral.

Hope it goes as well as it can, whatever you decide.

ruddynorah Wed 05-Oct-11 13:12:03

I took dd to her great grandma's at that age. I explained all about it before hand so she knew what to expect. It was a full catholic funeral so lasted a good hour with choir etc. She was absolutely fine. She rode in the car with us behind the hearse, she sat in the front pew with us and she delighted everyone at the get together after. I was so incredibly proud of her. She even sang along to the hymns as best she could.

Actually what helped was just before the funeral we found a dead mouse in her great grandma's garden. We looked at it together and we buried it in a flower bed while talking about what would happen to the mouse...circle of life etc.

oranges Wed 05-Oct-11 13:18:39

The problem here is there will be an open coffin for the first part of the service (its a hindu service) and lots of wailing. My dh is also obviously, as the son, the pallbearer and main mourner so I'll have to look after ds and dd (who is 18 months) while also supporting my MIL. My parents are coming too, but I think if ds sees me he will come to me near the front. I can definitely take them to the meal afterwards, but not sure of the service. But it also feels odd to just ask a neighbour to keep an eye on them on such a momentous day.

SauvignonBlanche Wed 05-Oct-11 13:26:52

Can your parents sit with or just behind you to help?
We made sure the grandchildren saw the coffin / body before the service, in private. They were able to stroke their grandmother's face, the priest said it would make the service less of a shock.
Make sure your dcs expect the wailing.

marykat2004 Thu 06-Oct-11 21:04:22

If the ritual is important to your culture, and you explain what will happen, maybe he should go? it's a hard question. I did not take my DD to her grandfather's funeral last week because 1. no other children were going 2. it was 3 hours away from where we live 4. i would have had to take her out of school etc etc. It was a short English service but still moving and sad with a coffin. I am glad I did not take her. But it is different for everyone. I hope you find a good solution.

ps but I think at the food serving bit afterwards, it might have been nice to have children around to remind people of the cycle of life. There were so many elderly people, little ones might have brightened them up. If I had not found a babysitter I would have taken her.

bibbitybobbityhat Thu 06-Oct-11 21:10:02

Yes, I do think so.

My father died this year and my stepmother made it clear she didn't really want my dc at the funeral.

I was v hurt by that. They were his only dgc, after all. Plus I would have had the dilemma of what to do with them for childcare for a whole day and evening.

They were old enough to know how to behave respectfully, as is a 5 year old, imvho.

Actually, I think any close family, no matter what their age, should go to a funeral. Death being part of life etc.

SpeedyGonzalez Thu 06-Oct-11 21:12:52

Unless your FIL's body looks unpleasant/ distressing, as opposed to just 'resting', IYKWIM, I wouldn't assume that it would upset your son. Not sure, really - it's an unknown quantity.

I would definitely take him, though. Perhaps you could bring a close friend along who knows your son well, and ask them to be on duty so that they can take him out if it looks like it's becoming overwhelming for him?

Really sorry for your and your husband/ DS's loss.

Love the 'star in the sky' thing, that's really beautiful.

oranges Tue 11-Oct-11 20:06:01

well, the decision was taken out of my hands. My ds didn't attend the funeral - but that is because my parents were taking him there (I was there early to help out with arrangements) and they ended up going to the wrong cemetery by mistake. So they walked around other gravestones, talked about death, and came to the lunch afterwards. DS asked to see a picture of a coffin, that I showed him, and seemed to accept it. He says his granddad is in the sky and every now and then I catch him looking up at the sky and whispering something, but he always seems cheerful afterwards.

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