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Would you let your 11 year old go to a funeral?

(41 Posts)
calebsmummy Tue 19-Jul-05 13:58:27

My FIL died on Friday. A wonderful man who will be sorely missed by so many people, not least my 11 year old son. He and his grandad were incredibly close, ds was the only grandchild for 7 years, and spent many a happy hour together doing all sorts of things.

I feel my son needs to attend his grandads funeral as he needs a way of saying goodbye. But it is also going to be the hardest thing I have had to watch my little boy do and if he goes it will be so hard for all of us.

We are going to give him the choice, but don't want him to feel forced into going.

We are also going to have a fun day out for the little ones (the 4 other grandsons are 3,2 1 and 7 months) a picnic and then a tree planting, so they can remember their grandad with happy memories. But I don't feel that is enough for my 11 year old. He is quite mature for his age. Very bright and sensible.

I don't know. It's hard to know if I am even handling this in the right way now. Dh is with his mum 200 miles away at the moment so I am trying to hold it together for my boys, but finding it hard. Sorry rambling now.

Has anyone else had to make this decision?

Eeek Tue 19-Jul-05 14:02:30

Let him choose but explain what happens.

My then 10 year old neice came to a family funeral as did her 8 year old sister - they were wonderful. My BIL asked them what they wanted to do and went with it. There were no ill effects that I'm aware of. If he doesn't want to go fair enough but a bright 11 year old will know his own mind and will have every right to be upset if he does want to say goodbye with the grown ups but isn't allowed to.

spykid Tue 19-Jul-05 14:04:17

I wasn't allowed to go to my grandads funeral when Iwas 11.
Even now I am angry that I wasn't given the choice to go...I would have gone.

Stilltrue Tue 19-Jul-05 14:19:43

I would let him go. My 2 eldest dss were 11, and just a week or 2 short of 10 when my fil died last year. We offered them the choice and both decided to go. There were older cousins there too, which helped. They were "glad" they went in that they felt it was the right thing to do. As your ds will be the oldest grandchild, he won't have a sibling close in age or an older cousin to "lean on", so maybe you could think about quietly enlisting the support of a somewhat more distant relative (grown up nephew, second cousin maybe ?) to be there for your son, especially if you will be upset yourself.

RTKangaMummy Tue 19-Jul-05 14:20:52

DS went to a cremation of my cousin last year when he was 9, he went to the service and to the crem as well, his cousins were there as well, they are older than him

I was very upset and so were my parents BUT we thought it was good for him to go so he could see what happened and so it wan't a mystery to him.

He had lots of questions and we had explained what was going to happen beforehand

DS's twin brother died soon after birth and so he is used to us talking about death and he is used to going to the cemetry.

DS great-granny and his great aunt died a couple of years ago and he was at school so we went without him and he went to friends house for tea as we had to travel about 100 miles to go to funeral.

IMHO I would leave the desicion to him and explain everything to him beforehand and be open to answering questions from him

starlover Tue 19-Jul-05 14:21:49

i went to my grandmas funeral when i was 8. it was very sad, but i am glad i went.

RTKangaMummy Tue 19-Jul-05 14:22:36

Actually I gotr that wrong his cousins didn't go to the service in the church they just went to the crematorium

They were in traffic jam on M40

Stargazer Tue 19-Jul-05 14:27:24

Hi Calebsmummy - Yes, I'd let him go. My son, now aged 9½, attended both his great-nanna's and granddad's funerals - they were about a year apart. He was almost 6 at the first and just over 7 at the second.

I felt it was important for him to be able to say goodbye to people he knew and loved, and also to see that death was a natural conclusion to a long life (mostly) - also to share in all the good memories that were talked about at the gathering (party) afterwards. I think it's very important that children realise that death isn't frightening, just the final chapter in a life (even sometimes a short life).

Hope this helps.

chenin Tue 19-Jul-05 14:33:17

Hello Calebsmum - yes I would let him go, especially if he wants to. I would explain to him that there will be a coffin in the church (if that is the case) because I think that can be a huge shock for a child if they are not expecting it.
Both my DDs went to my parents funerals last year - youngest is 13 - very emotional for her but almost something that has to be done as a form of acceptance of the end of a life.
Hope it goes OK for you.

wilbur Tue 19-Jul-05 14:34:58

So sorry for your loss calebsmummy.

My cousin brought his three girls who were 14, 11 and 9 to my father's memorial service last year (but not to the funeral as he had been very close to my dad and was worried about losing it in front of his daughters). They were brilliant throughout, even tho the service was long, and I was so pleased to see them there, the next generation, as it were. I think they gained a lot of understanding from the experience too. When my father died, ds was only 2 1/2 and dd was 9 weeks, so obviously there was no explaining that could be done, nor would I have had them at the funeral service, but I still wanted them at the house immediately afterwards when old friends were coming back for refreshments. Many of them commented how nice it was to meet Daddy's grandchildren and see life going on, so there are other benefits from allowing children at these kind of events too.

CarolinaMoon Tue 19-Jul-05 14:38:28

definitely, calebsmummy. My mum is still annoyed that she wasn't allowed to go to her gran's funeral, and she was only 6 then.

He will probably find it comforting to go and see how many other people miss his grandad too.

Hausfrau Tue 19-Jul-05 14:39:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tatt Tue 19-Jul-05 14:43:38

I am sorry about the loss of someone you cared for.

At 11 they are old enough to behave sensibily. I find children at a funeral lighten the atmosphere and help rather than making things harder. Explain what will happen and give him the choice.

FrumpyGrumpy Tue 19-Jul-05 14:51:11

I think you're right, the decision lies with him. I felt very grown up at 11 and he might just need to go as part of sorting out the feelings. The day itself might not help in a big way but as time goes by he will remember it and it will be a marker for him. Otherwise there is a feeling of not knowing what actually went on and it leaves it all a bit open. I don't think its harmful for him to see others (adults) upset because it shows him its normal to feel like that and provides the security he might need (i.e. mum and dad and gran were upset but we're still ok). Best of luck.

zaphod Tue 19-Jul-05 14:51:39

When my mother died earlier this year, my ds1 was nearly 11, dd was just 9 and ds2 was 7. We gave them the choice of going to the funeral mass and burial, and they all chose to go.

I didn't think it was appropriate for ds1 to go to the removal, where there was an open coffin, as I felt seeing his grandma dead would be traumatic for him. In fact, if the choice was mine there wouldn't have been an open coffin.

I think it was a good thing for them to go to the funeral to say goodbye, and to see all the other people who cared about my mother, grieving too.

FrumpyGrumpy Tue 19-Jul-05 14:54:09

My adored granda died when I was 6 and I still have the feelings of him just disappearing. Took me ages to get used to that. I was a mature 6 and would like to have had a chance to be involved in some way.

elliott Tue 19-Jul-05 14:54:22

Personally I'd take them all - after all he was their grandad...
I think our cultural tendency to treat death as a taboo is not actually very helpful. Why should children be excluded from the important rituals in society? Are we frightened of being sad or out of control in front of them? Is grieving only for adults?
I recently went to a farewell of a friend at which there were loads of children. Some knew him well and were very emotional, the younger ones were innocently oblivious. I took my two ds's (aged 1.5 and 3.5). don't think ds1 had much of a clue but it did prompt lots of questions about dying etc and I don't think it did him any harm to know that people feel sad when someone they loves dies and isn't around any more.

elliott Tue 19-Jul-05 14:56:23

thinking about this more - if dh's dad died, there's no way they wouldn't be at the funeral (apart from anything, anyone who would be able to look after them would also be at the funeral!)

spidermama Tue 19-Jul-05 14:58:32

I think it's good life experience. 11 would seem to me to be a good age.

Sorry for your loss. x

nannyjo Tue 19-Jul-05 15:01:50

my Gran died when i was 11 and i wasn't allowed to go her funeral and to this day i still feel bitter about it. i think that at 11 you are old enough to understand death and you need to grieve if it is aomeone you are close to. to say they are not old enough is like saying they are not old enough to deal with the death in a mature way which is what you would want them to do.

I guess it depends on their individual abilities.

nannyjo Tue 19-Jul-05 15:03:10

sorry just seen you will give him the choice, i think that is the best you can do so whether he goes or not will be his decision that he will deal with later on in life.

calebsmummy Tue 19-Jul-05 17:33:28

Have spoken to Dh this afternoon and he is quite adamant ds should not go. Its going to be a cremation. His reasonings are that as ds was so close to his grandad, going to his funeral may mar the loevly memories ds has of him. Dh is also worried that as the only child there he will recieve a lot of sympathy which he may not be able to handle. Also dh worrys about him seeing his Gran and obviously us upset. He also says his dad would definately have not wanted ds to be there, which is very true.

Ultimately it will be dh's decision as it was his dad. Now is not the time to argue about it. He says ds can go if he feels really strong about it, but we will also be doing the memorial day for him.

I don't know, I do feel it would be good for him in some way, but not in others. Actually I think he is talking to him about it on the phone now.....

Kidstrack2 Tue 19-Jul-05 17:47:54

I went to my stepdads funeral when I was 11. I have to say at the time it was terribly upsetting but when I think back now I think it was the best thing for me to say goodbye. I found him dead in bed when I tried to wake him on a tues morn to put out the wheelie bin. The funeral was the fri and my mum decided it was best for me to attend and I'm so glad now she let me go as it was a sort of closure to what had happened and I think if I hadnt been allowed I would still be wondering what it would have been like not saying goodbye.

Kidstrack2 Tue 19-Jul-05 17:52:01

It was a creamatorium my stepdads funeral was held and now looking back I prefer it to a graveyard. If your son really has strong wishes to be there, listen to him and get his points of view across to his dad. I know we all think 11 is too young but many know and have their own minds made up.

kama Tue 19-Jul-05 17:53:06

Message withdrawn

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