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taking young children to funeral

(19 Posts)
grief Wed 27-Jul-05 16:21:08

I have to take (yes "Have to" no arguments) our children to their Grandma's funeral. Youngest is 4 years old. Any tips if you have had to do this would be very much appreciated as I am worried as the service is going to be about 1 hour (yes "1 hour" no arguments). Sorry but I've searched the website for help on explaining what will happen etc and can't find anything. I am dreading them seeing the coffin and seeing it lowered and all the crying.

grief Wed 27-Jul-05 16:29:15

bump, in case anyone can help. This seemed to have dropped from the activ list as quickly as I started it!

MaloryTowers Wed 27-Jul-05 16:32:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LittleStarsweeper Wed 27-Jul-05 16:35:04

No I couldnt do it to them. I do have old fashioned views of how much children should see and hear before they really have to. I personally wouldnt go myself, knowing my grandmother would totally agree with me. If really torn, take them into service but before hand explain that grandma will be in heaven and will be a special star that will always be watching over them. On a clear night choose a star and deal with it then. I wouldnt take them to the grave until a later date. Poor you, you have got your own thing to deal with too. Maybe a more distant relative can take them away and keep them occupied whilst you are lowering the coffin. Wish you well. xx

RTKangaMummy Wed 27-Jul-05 16:35:11

Is it a requim mass?

Are they used to going to church?

Or are you different religion?

How much do they understand about their grandma dying?

Are there cousins or other children there?

When DS went to one last year I explained everything to him beforehand as much as I could, he had lots of questions.

Is there anyway of taking them to visit a graveyard beforehand to explain easier what will happen

KatieinSpain Wed 27-Jul-05 16:37:03

So sorry to hear about your Grandma. Will someone be with you at her funeral?

DSs (2 and a half and just under one, at the time) went to my Nan's funeral last year. I only explained we were saying "goodbye" and that people were very sad and that was why they were crying. Both boys wandered round the church and spent some time outside with their Dad - particularly, when my Grandpa was giving his eulogy - and I found everyone was really supportive of their presence.

bundle Wed 27-Jul-05 16:37:10

I would explain to them (age appropriately) what was going to happen (ask whoever will be doing the service to talk you through it over the phone if they can), so there would be no surprises. children often are v matter of fact about issues like death.

MaloryTowers Wed 27-Jul-05 16:39:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bundle Wed 27-Jul-05 16:40:54

(sorry that sounded a bit abrupt - i'm really sorry to hear about their Grandma)

bundle Wed 27-Jul-05 16:41:28

there's a lovely book called Goodbye Mog, about the death of the family cat which you may find useful

oatcake Wed 27-Jul-05 16:54:20

So sorry. I didn't take ds, then aged 2 years and 8 months to my mums funeral last year, but I did take him to my aunt's funeral the week before my mum's.

I did a lot of explaining beforehand, told him how pretty coffins were(!) and the flowers and the music and he was cool.

He's very clued up on death now, especially with the cat dying on new years eve and my mum still on the mantelpiece... but this is how I've always been with him. It does depend on your outlook on life. Death is an integral part of life and is very much a taboo subject.

Your youngest will probably be fine if you do your preparation. But as I said, it's all about you and your philosophy on life.

I'm so sorry.

grief Wed 27-Jul-05 16:58:02

If it was up to me I would only take them to the grave at a later date. However have had lots of people telling me children bounce back and that I should take them. Personally I don't want them to have to bounce anywhere but I have totally shielded them so far from this awful aspect of living and so have been left feeling like I am totally overprotective. Also don't want such people to think I am a control freak which is how they seem to view me. May still not take them but it's hard for them not to see the coffin arrive for various reasons. It will be a church service and am planning to get them to be near their older cousins if possible. They don't seem to understand 4 year old not at all and older ones seem to but don't believe Grandma is in heaven as have recently been questioning this so it's been hard to explain it all in a nice floury way. Bundle you didn't sound abrupt at all.

Fio2 Wed 27-Jul-05 16:58:19

I dont know of any books, I just wanted to say sorry. Fwiw I took my daughter (who was 2 1/2 at the time) to my sisters funeral as I thought it was appropriate I didnt give a shit what anyone thought about it.

I hope you find some good books xx

tarantula Wed 27-Jul-05 16:58:25

Hi grief

Sorry to hear about hte death of your children Grandma. Did they know her well? It may help them a little if so to go to the funeral as a way of saying goodbye.

When my auntie died a few years back she was laid out at home in traditional fashion and on the bed next to her were beautiful cards made by her grandchildren to say goodbye to her. they could if they wished go in and see her to say goodbye too (some didnt want to and that was fine). They all came to Funeral Mass (even the little ones) but were able to go outside if they got restless. I think its very important for children to say goodbye to loved ones and to see that their parents and relatives are sad and also to see why they are sad....provided that it done in a way that the children understand so its very important to explain it all beforehand.

the Mog book is a brillaint idea. Its fantastic. there are also other books you can get from the library explaining death to young children.

I went to funerals from a very young age and also went to laying outs once I got a bit older and I feel it helped me to say goodbye to those I loved. Still visit the graveyard eveytime I go home to say hello to my gran and grandad.

HTH and hope eveything goes ok at the funeral

love Tarantula

sorrel Wed 27-Jul-05 16:59:17

this might help- there is a ohone line and they are really helpful.
or here: CBT

sorrel Wed 27-Jul-05 17:09:16

found this too. i am sorry for you loss .

Many of you reading this will already know that after someone dies we show our respect for them by coming together to say good-bye. The family, friends and people who went to work or school with the person, gather at the home or in the church, synagogue or mosque to remember the life of the person who has died and to comfort each other.

The body of the person who is dead is usually placed in a wooden box called a coffin. Sometimes the coffin is brought home before the funeral or people go to the funeral parlour to say goodbye. Often we lay flowers on the coffin to show our love for that person. Flowers remind us that all living things and people die eventually; flowers are fresh and beautiful for a short time but then they will also fade and die.

The funeral service is usually led by someone - it may be a clergyman or woman or it can be a non-religious person. He or she may read prayers or special poems and often friends and family sing hymns together because it helps us to hear and sing words of comfort that have been sung for hundreds of years by millions of people.

So you see that a funeral is a very important ritual that takes place all over the world. It helps us to believe that the death has really happened even though we so badly want to turn the clock back to a time when everyone was all together.

Because we feel like this, our tears come suddenly even though we may try really hard to stop them, particularly if we feel that we are too old to cry in front of other people. It can feel embarrassing. Well, we are never too old to cry when something as dreadful as this is happening! Sometimes we would like to cry but find that we can't and that is hard but 0K too. Some people find that they can only cry when they are alone or they find that they burst into tears unexpectedly at the smallest thing. Sometimes it's like a great well of tears sitting behind your eyes that keeps bursting through.

Sarah said -'I didn't really feel anything for the first 3 months. For the next 6 to 8 months I couldn't really handle myself or my feelings. Then after that it took me a long time and a lot of tears but I managed to calm down. Ever since then its been like a long road up a hill. "

Burials and cremations

Once a person or animal has died, their body no longer needs air to breathe, water to drink, or food to eat. It no longer feels pain, cold or warmth. It cannot crawl, walk or run any longer so we have to find a place where we can leave it safely.

There are two ways we do this, one is to bury the body in the ground so that it eventually becomes part of the earth which helps the trees, flowers and rivers to grow and flow. Or we can burn the body so that it becomes part of the air, the sky and the wind. Whichever is decided, it's important to remember that the person or animal that has died does not mind because they no longer need their body.

After the funeral service, after the readings or prayers and singing or whatever the family have decided to do, as there are lots of different kinds of funerals families can choose, then the body in the coffin is buried or burned.

Do I have to go to the funeral?

You certainly don't! Some children say they wished they had been allowed to go. Others have said that they think they were too little at the time and are pleased they didn't go. What is important is that you know what the funeral is and why it is happening and that you can find someone you trust to answer your questions.

What is a memorial service?

A memorial service is held sometimes after the funeral. Not every family chooses to do this but when they do, it is usually held a few weeks or months later. It allows more people to come together to remember the life of the person who has died, people perhaps who live a long way away and who couldn't come to the funeral. It is often a happier occasion where people celebrate the person's life and talk about the person who has died and where favourite music may be played and poetry and stories read out. Members of the family may choose to speak in a way they didn't feel able to at the funeral because a little time has passed since the death.

It is very common for famous people to be remembered in this way, people like John Lennon or politicians. But families may decide to hold this sort of service too.

Ruby was 6 when her older brother Rowan died. Lots and lots of his school friends came to his memorial service and his favourite music was played. His friends played their recorders and sang. Ruby remembers this as "The happy funeral".

What happens next?

It's quite natural to wonder where the dead person has gone. What we believe depends very much on what our families think happens when a person or pet dies and so the idea of being with Jesus in heaven may be comforting to one family and very scary to another family. John aged 5 became frightened to go out to play in the garden for fear that Jesus would snatch him to join his brother. Children who grow up in other cultures may experience a strong family view of what death is and how it fits into a cycle of life. For example, in Sikh families, the eldest son always washes the body of the person who has died.

Whatever our culture, whatever our religion, spirituality is an important part of us all. It's about how we are able to be connected to others, our past and our future and the world around us.

What do we mean by heaven?

It is not unusual for people to say the person who has died has "gone to heaven" but what do they mean? You might have heard people say 'It was heaven!" when talking about a wonderful experience - it can help to think of heaven as a place where there is no pain or hunger, where there is warmth and we are loved and cared for. Of course nothing answers the question "Why?" However wonderful heaven is, we would always rather the person we needed had stayed with us and the pain of being apart has to be got through until it's not always as painful.

So - funerals need not be frightening, they are one of the ways we humans mark very important times and make them special. No-one should feel they have to go but children who do go are well able to manage as long as they know what is going to happen and have someone they trust to be with. No-one knows for certain what happens after we die - different people believe different things."
*Child bereavement trust website*

Tortington Wed 27-Jul-05 17:47:46

you could take them to the service but not graveside. and if there is a wake meet up at the wake afterwards.

i personally think the graveside bit is the worst.

vickiyumyum Wed 27-Jul-05 18:00:30

my nan died on monday and this is an ongoing debate i am having with myself. i think that at 8 ds1 is old enough to make up his own mind if he wishes to come to the funeral, but on the other hand i'm not sure that i want him to come as i know that i am going to be upset and do not want to upset my little boy that mummy is upset, if he is upset i want it to be at the memory of his great gran and feeling sad that she is no longer with us iyswim (i know to some this will seem starnge).
so i'm not usre as to what to do and i certainly feel that at 3 my ds2 is far too young to go.

grief Thu 28-Jul-05 09:59:54

thank you to everyone who has been able to respond to my posting. YOU HAVE ALL BEEN SO HELPFUL. It has helped me know better how to talk to the children about what is coming up and plan what I am going to do.
Vickiyumyum I hope all goes well for you in that you manage to make the best decision for you and your little ones.
Sorrell thank you for the websites which I have been trying unsuccessfully to find I'm off to check them out now.

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