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For ex dh to describe cremation to a 7 year old?

60 replies

alibo · 03/04/2011 01:48

Ds, (just 7) is currently trying to come to terms with the loss of his only grandpa. He died in January after a long battle with cancer. All the family are missing him terribly and ds has found it hard especially. He was really brave and attended the funeral/buriel along with his 2 young cousins, and has found some comfort being able to "visit" him at the cemtery and take flowers to him etc. Ex dh has been made aware of how he's doing, and that he's going to take a while yet to come to terms with it, etc.
However, myself and my mum were totally gobsmacked when tonight whilst watching "Firehouse Dog" disney film on tv, ds pipes up that his dad told him this weekend that when HIS dad died(before ds was born), that "A FIRE WAS MADE, THE COFFIN PUT IN IT, AND BURNT UNTIL THERE WAS NOTHING AT ALL LEFT". Even if it was ds who questioned @ where his other grandad was,
Am i being unreasonable and actually livid, feeling that:
a) ex dh, (knowing that at the moment ds has a lot to deal with emotionally, coming to terms with the death of very close family member), found it necessary to go into such detail about cremation, at age 7??
b)ex could not have said something like he was resting somewhere near where he used to live etc(actually a long distance from where we live anyway so ds would not be expecting to go)
c)ex could at least have changed the subject and then had the common courtesy to discuss with me that the question had come up, and should we discuss a subject as sensitive as bodies being burnt in a coffin with a child still in infant school?
Totally unrelated to subject, but this is the kind of person i have to deal with:
Just to give you one (of many) indications of the sensitivity of this person, ds attended the wedding of exdh and his girlfriend 2 days before his grandpas funeral, and ex dh did not even notice ds was crying under a table watching the newlyweds snog and smooch. Ds actually told me this, and said all he could think was that he wished his daddy lived with us as he watched them.
This is also the same person who last year was actually capable of ignoring his son and would not even speak to him on the phone when ds came down with a bad urine infection the day he was supposed to be going on a camping trip with ex dh and his friends. Ds spent half the weekend at the emergency room, and the rest of the weekend in tears, and dh happily enjoyed the trip and could not even call him to see how he was.
Honest opinions would be appreciated, thanks x

OP posts:

ThingOne · 03/04/2011 01:57

Erm, it's too late at night to follow all your post, and I've been out (hic) but surely it's better to tell children the truth? My children are 7 and 4; their oldest grandfather died a year ago and was cremated. I explained - I started before he died because we did have some warning - that some people are buried after they died, and some are burned. I very briefly explained some of the reasons why. They were untraumatised by this. We went to scatter their gpa's ashes later that year and they were part of this.

You seem to be asking more questions than one. In answer to the question in your post title YABU. Your post reads to me as if the problem is more the insensitivity of your ex.


CheerfulYank · 03/04/2011 02:03

Your ex sounds like a jerk, but as far as the cremation goes I think YABU.

The other day I told DS (3 and a half) that bodies are buried in the ground after death and eventually turn back into earth. I didn't get into cremation because he still doesn't quite get that dead means dead, and I didn't want him to be afraid that the people being burned were hurting. But at 7 I wouldn't have a problem knowing this, no.


CheerfulYank · 03/04/2011 02:03

have a problem with him knowing this, I meant :)


Underachieving · 03/04/2011 02:15

I'm gonna say YABU because I'm not really seeing your ex's crime here?

He got carried away at his own wedding, kissing his lovely new bride, and failled to notice someone under the table, who had presumably blocked themself from view deliberately with the furniture. This is forgivable I think.

Then he explained to a curious 7 year old why his other gramps doesn't have a grave, in language said little boy could understand. Death is a simple fact of life. You can not hold your ex accountable for the unfortunate fact that death has entered your DS's experience of the world rather younger than you would have liked.


alibo · 03/04/2011 02:21

I think its more the fact that ds is a "thinker" and can dwell on things, and is only just getting his head around death, gramps being buried etc. After gramps's death we took good advice and gained info on ways of explaining things from teachers experienced in that area at school, the vicar, etc. Even every bit of info i've glanced at on the internet tonight says the worse thing you can do with children as far as explaining cremation is to be completely blunt and to try and avoid the words "burnt" and "in a fire". There are better ways of explaining how the ash forms: being placed in a very hot room etc etc.
And, yes his insensitivity has always been a problem....

OP posts:

BitOfFun · 03/04/2011 02:30

I get that you are pissed off with your ex, but hopefully you can help your son come to terms with things by explaining that his grandad's body is only his remains. Good luck, but I think you will both get past this, and I'm sorry for your loss.


alibo · 03/04/2011 02:47

Thank you guys; special thanks bitoffun, i guess if you knew how exdh consistently treats ds like he is at least 10/11yrs old in a whole host of other matters, you'd see this is just another "Pissed off" on top a load of other "pissed offs", IYSWIM?
He finds it impossible to communicate properley with anyone, not just me, and he knows how sensitive ds is at the moment. At the end of the day its me on my own who has to always pick up the pieces, and i have , several times, in a major way. He could have at least not gone straight in with all that detail, and changed the subject(very easily done with ds), and then we could've discussed what to tell ds together. He also could have at least TOLD me that such a sensitive discussion had been had when he dropped him off! I continually have to find out from ds, when serious/meaningful things have been talked about, ds then comes home and talks to me about things,and then i'm struggling to back dh up etc because i don't know whats been said,ds is then frustrated that i don't know things etc.....

OP posts:

BitOfFun · 03/04/2011 03:56

It sounds really hard, I hope you manage some damage limitation Sad. I'm sure you can, you sound like you've got your head screwed on.


secondcity · 03/04/2011 07:46

I think the idea of changing the subject with young children is not always a good one. Children have to trust that their parents will always tell them the truth and not avoid the issue. I understand that you are worried that your child is particularly sensitive due to recent events, but honesty is always the best policy. Death is, sadly, a part of life, these subjects shouldn't be taboo. I also don't really think that your child is too young to be told, my children were far younger when their Grandpa died and his remains cremated, they were naturally curious, but they were never traumatised by my explanations and truthfulness.
Sorry for your loss.


SardineJam · 03/04/2011 08:02

My gran died when I was 4 and we went to her funeral and she was subsequentlying cremated, and it was explained to me, in pretty much the same way your ex explained to your son, I was more fascinated than horrified...i think YABU. I was there too for the scattering of the ashes. I think that knowing what happened to the person is better for closure, rather than being left guessing what happened to them. Also imagine how your son would feel if someone else told him about the cremation, I think he would be even more hurt, knowing that you didn't tell him, where as a parent he would trust and look for your word


horses4courses · 03/04/2011 08:08

YABU. I can't see what the problem is. Your DS asked a question and as far as i can see got a perfectly reasonable explanation. What was he meant to say?? From what you say in your post your DS doesn't seem to have been upset and it seems to be you projecting.

to be honest you sound a bit controlling. You expected your DH to have told you about a conversation which was probably no big deal at the time. It sounds like you're angry your ex has moved on although the camping thing is a bit s**t.

Interesting you object to DS being treated like a 10/11 year old. I bet you treat him like he's about 2 he's nearly 7 FGS!


queenrollo · 03/04/2011 08:10

I think it's important to tell children the facts about these things, and changing the subject to avoid this is damaging. If a child is asking these questions then this topic is obviously on their mind and it's better for them to be able to deal with the facts than let their minds run riot with fantasy. Finding a way to explain to them about the 'spirit' of a person being separate from their body in death is important, because focusing on the body as 'being' that person is probably the hardest thing for a child to process.
There are separate issues in your post though - communication with your ex is what is making this harder. We had to deal with the subject of death with our DS(5) recently and so ex and I made sure that each conversation with our son was relayed to other adult so we didn't contradict each other.


posypoo · 03/04/2011 08:22

I have a friend who has a son your age and my friend has a terrible relationship with his father since their split - it is really hard to communicate with him about anything, even if it's something that is important for his son's welfare. He is also quite capable of ignoring his son to spite his ex. I'm not just taking sides - I've witnessed it. So yes, it sounds like this is you being pissed off on top of a whole load of other really hard things you've had to deal with over the past 7 years, and you have lost your dad to boot (am also really sorry for your loss btw).

So in that respect I don't think YABU.

I agree that parents should confer on how best to tell kids about difficult things. That said, I don't think questions should be avoided, and blokes are less sensitive about emotional consequence than women - for all his faults he may have been trying his best.


CheerfulYank · 03/04/2011 08:27

I don't think her not wanting her DS to be treated like an 11 year old automatically means she treats him like he's two. A seven year old is not and 11 year old, and it's inappropriate to treat him as though he is. OP is right on that one...


wineclub · 03/04/2011 08:39

Its normal for a 7 yo to know what cremation is when they have dead relatives who have been cremated. I wouldn't dream of lying to my 7yo (or 5yo) if they asked me either what cremation was or why a cremated relative didn't have a grave, in fact they know my dad doesn't have a grave because he was burnt and the ashes scattered.

Its also normal to kiss your wife on your wedding day. It sounds like you are having a tough time but I think its because your dad has died, your ex has remarried and you are adjusting to having to parent your ds without you his dad having the sort of unity that comes from being a relationship rather than your ex being inherently unreasonable.


justaboutWILLfinishherthesis · 03/04/2011 08:41

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

kreecherlivesupstairs · 03/04/2011 09:53

OP, I think you are being a bit precious TBH, so, yes YABU.


littleducks · 03/04/2011 09:58

YABU, sorry.

Is your DS actually upset by this or did he just 'pipe up' and say something he knew about?

My 4yr old knows in great detail how we prepare and bury bodies and that other people may burn them. Its normal to her and doesnt scare her.


BristolJim · 03/04/2011 09:59

Luke cremates his father at the end of Return of the Jedi. If he's seen that, you can explain it as a loving act that doesn't destroy the person's soul (if you believe in that stuff) or more importantly your memories of them.

All major life lessons can be learnt from studying Star Wars.


louloudia · 03/04/2011 10:06

if he had said grandad was resting somewhere as you suggest, that would be terribly confusing for the poor lad


5inthebed · 03/04/2011 10:06

I think your ex could have worded it a bit better, so I can see where you are coming from, but YABU to want to sugar coat these things with a 7 year old. I have a 7 year old myself, and he knows about cremation, as he asked about his own grandad, who died when he was 4.

Children have a natural interest/curiosity in death round about this age anyway.


Blondeshavemorefun · 03/04/2011 10:07


i believe in explaining things to children in simple but true terms,whether death or how babies are made Grin

had that conversation the other day in the car

obviously ex dh getting married 2 days before funeral and not noticing ds was sad upset was bad timing but thats life

was someone not at the wedding who was meant to be looking after ds, ie other granny (ex dh mum)


RunAwayWife · 03/04/2011 10:16

Your Ex is an idiot, you clearly have issue with him, but I do not think he did wrong to talk about cremation and it was hardly in detail was it now.

I think if children are taught about things in life that can be scary it can make them less scary, and we English do have a thing about death being a taboo


amerryscot · 03/04/2011 10:17

It's reasonable to teach a child what cremation is as this is the standard method for committing a body to the earth in this country.

Kids cope with death pretty well and move on.


TheLadyEvenstar · 03/04/2011 10:22

DS1 was 5 when my dad died - the only Grandad he knew. I was honest with him but this was helped by the fact that the day dad died DS1 was in the hospital with mum and I. He saw him an hour before he died.
He went to the cremation - and when the coffin was lowered he piped up
"Thats it isn't it Nanna, Grandad isn't coming back now is he" and lowered his head to his arms and sobbed.

Now I went through many many people telling me I had been wrong for letting him attend BUT I know I did the right thing for my son....9yrs on from when my Grandad died and DS1 was 3.6yrs old he still blames me for not letting him say goodbye to "Old Grandad".

Children need to understand the world as it is.

OP can you just explain how does ex treat him like he is 10/11? Surely if he is asking questions then they need to be answered?

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