Children and funerals????(31 Posts)
My DD is 4(almost 5) and my DS will be 7 at the end of this month. My DH and I are trying to decide whether they should attend their grandad's funeral. They were very close to him and part of me thinks they should have the chance to say goodbye like the rest of us, but the other part tells me they are too young to understand what is going on and we should spare them the upset.
I'd appreciate hearing from anyone else who has been in this situation.
Please don't. at 7 he will understand enough from just being told and sheilding him from the realities.
Im 24 and found it unbelieveable hard to see my grandad lowered into the ground last week, I had to bury my head in to DH to stop my self from shouting 'no'
Sorry to hear about your loss.
I think you will get 2 opinions; those (like justabout, who I agree with) that feel children shouldn't be shielded.
Other people (for many reasons) feel it is inappropriate. e.g that the child will be traumatised by seeing adults grieving, the children may misbehave, they are too young etc.
We took dd1 (4) to her great grandfather's funeral (took the baby too but she was oblivious) at the specific request of my grandmother who expressed a strong wish to hae the whole family there in memory of him. (although had dh and I decided we felt it inappropriate she would have been fine with that too)
sorry, I misquoted justabout, she said "need not be shielded"
My children are 2 and 4 (and 3 month old but obviously clueless) we are writing notes to grandad next week and tieing them onto balloons and sending them up to him in heaven.
I don't know your beliefs, but this will be their 'funeral' for him, their way of saying goodbye without witnessing something that may distress them very much.
I'm with justa on this one - the purpose of a funeral is to give everyone a way to say goodbye, and I think children need that at least as much as adults do - they can be confused about what death means, and going through a process of a funeral gives them a pattern to make sense of it and to be part of the family and friends gathered together to remember their loved one.
A factor for me would be, what do the children want, do they want to go? You are right sometimes children need to say goodbye. If they seem to be expressing that wish in any form then that should not be denied. If they dont seem bothered or seem upset by the idea when you give a brief explanation of what a funeral is, then prob best for them not to go
I think you also need to consider the point that Disenchantegg made. If you are likely to be extremely distressed yourself then this may affect your decision.
In my case my grandfather was very elderly and had been unwell for a long time and in some ways his death was a release (sorry if this is an insensitive thing to say in the light of your bereavement)
In contrast my friend passed away last year (my dcs didn't know her) she left several young dc. I went to the funeral with a close friend and I could not have held it together, even for my dc. I held my friend's hand throughout. Many people sobbed at the service, including me
I found it very upsetting and draining, I wouldn't have wanted my kids there because of ME, i wanted DH to look after me and talk to me, not run after toddlers.
Either way I think it helps to explain what happens at funerals to them - if they don't go, it saves them from imagining all sorts of horrible things and if they do go, they will be prepared for it.
When I was 7 one of the nuns from the convent attached to the school died. Her body was laid out in the chapel in her coffin, and we all had to file past and kiss her forehead. I distinctly remember being surprised by how cold she was, but am otherwise untraumatised.
Even now an Irish funeral involves having your dead relative lying out in the sitting room for several days, with all the neighbours, including kids, popping in and out for cups of tea.
The kids will pick up on whatever you feel about it, so go with whatever you feel is best, but don't assume they will be traumatised by funeral.
So sorry to hear about your loss. My mum died suddenly in August and we took our ds's aged 2, 4 & 6 to the funeral but not to the burial. We explained what was going to happen at church, and that people were sad because they loved nana and they would miss her, but that nana was in heaven with Jesus and was ok - they go to a catholic school and it all made sense to them. I wanted them to be as aware of possible about the cycle of life and know why, in the months to come I would be unhappy at times. They would also be attending the gathering afterwards and I wanted it to be in context for them too. They were fine on the day and it has helped me talk to them about dying when it has cropped up since. Our 4yr old had had an unhealthy obsession with death for the previous year so we had talked about dying so much it wasn't an issue when we really needed to. However, you know your children and what they will be capable of dealing with.
I don't think it's the best idea on the planet, Joe, but I think you should take your cue from them.
If they express an interest in going, then you should explain exactly what's going to happen, and that's lots of people will be crying .. and then there will be a 'party' of sorts at the end, where everyone gets together.
It's a toughie. I wasn't allowed to go to my Grandad's funeral, but that was because I was doing my O levels at the time, and it was 200 miles away.
With little children, I'm not sure.
Ask how they feel about it all.
I've only been to one funeral, age 10, so 9 years ago. It was extremely distressing. I was fine at first, but then the vicar got onto my great uncle's last days (I was with him and my granddad one morning, the next he'd had a brain hemorrhage and was in a coma for a week before dying) and I just SOBBED. I was supposed to read something on behalf of one of his grandchildren but luckily she didn't write it, as I just couldn't have done it.
But I am a very sensitive thing so it depends on the child.
Sorry about your loss.
My Dad died suddenly, in his sleep. Loads of grandkids staying in the house at the time. They were madly curious about the whole thing, almost comically so. They attended the funeral, and have happy memories of the funeral and their Grandad. They are bigger now, and feel it was completely natural to have been at the funeral. In fact they are quite puzzled by the idea that they might not have attended.
well, who knows what it right and wrong? my dadt died 9 years ago, and my dds were 6 and 4. I decided not to take them to the funeral because I really couln't face the whole explanation of a crematorium ( i try really hard not to think of it myself) and TBH, I really was not certain that I could hold it all together and thought that the kids would find it very hard to have all the adults in the family in flood of tears. I never went to any funerals as a child, coming from a comically long-lived family on my Mums side( didn't have much to do with Dad's side). The first funeral I went to I was 19, for my great grandmother.
Now my kids are older, I would take them. I think that you just have to think about what they can cope with and what you can cope with.
At age 7 I didn't go to my gran's funeral but remembered seeing the smoke from the crematorium (next to primary school). I wish my mum had done something I could have shared in to say goodbye, even if it wasn't the funeral.
Its my dads funeral tomorrow & DS who is 8 isn't going. I have explained things to him & he is writing a card to go on the flowers as his way of saying goodbye. I didn't feel it was appropriate for him to attend as he would be upset to see us all upset.
My nephew who is 12 actually asked if he could attend - I agree that at that age he is big enough to know his own mind & what it means to attend.
No time to read it all (bath and bed time), but going to friend's mother's funeral and she has especially asked for DD (2) to be there, as it would relieve the atmosphere for others. Obviously not the same with older ones, but don't always assume the atmosphere should be heavy and gloomy. Maybe signs of continuing life are what the family needs.
I don't think that children should be completely protected from seeing adults upset. That is saying the these emotions are not acceptable.
My DH lost his mum when DSS's were 4 & 5. He made the decision that he wanted them to be at funeral, although I was not convinced.They were both very close to MIL, and DH felt that they had the right to say goodbye too. He was very upset at the funeral, which I think was the hardest part for the boys.
Now (4 yrs on), the boys talk occasionally about the 'party we had for Nana when everyone was sad cos she died but happy when they remembered her'. I'm glad now that they were able to share this experience with their dad and myself.
years ago when ds was about 2, I took him to a funeral- wife of a colleage, we were all close at the workplace- he didn't know her, and had no idea what was going on, sat on the floor playing fairly quietly, it was a Quaker funeral and one person spoke up to say that 'in the midst of death there s life' ie his presence was a comfort.
I think it's OK for dcs to see their parents sad and crying, that's a natural thing to do when someone dies. OTOH if you feel you might be completely hysterical (not meaning to be disrespectful) that might be scary for them.
I took my dds to the funeral of their friends Mum who had died unexpectedly, they were 8 I think, I was completely shocked how few children were there- I felt we all owed it to the family, esp their friend.
I think the Irish way sounds sensible, but difficult to do outside Ireland.
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