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Son has told me he doesn’t want to visit the graveyard anymore

404 replies

eastmeanswestmum · 07/12/2019 17:38

More of a what should I do?
My mum died while I was pregnant and I was just 21. A few weeks later I had my little boy, every week since he was born we’ve visited the graveyard, every Christmas Day we’ve gone after we’ve opened presents.
He’s been brilliant, he openly talks about her and has always wanted to go see ‘ his granny ‘
He started reception in September, this week he asked me about Christmas Day, I said we will do the same as normal open presents and then go see granny with grandad. I was so so so shocked when he said he didn’t want to go anymore. I didn’t want to pressure him into questions so I kind of just brushed over it, were due to go tomorrow and I don’t know wether to or to leave it ?
What is the best way to approach this?
Obviously going to the graveyard gives me so much comfort- I can’t go on my own as I’m a single mum so finding someone to sit in with 2 little ones so I can go isn’t an option.
But I completely understand if it isn’t appealing for a 4 year old. But do I ask why? Do I encourage him to keep going or do I just leave it and take a break?

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?


You have one vote. All votes are anonymous.

Honeybee85 · 08/12/2019 11:43

OP have you asked him why he doesnt want to visit the graveyard anymore? Could he be sensitive to certain energies being present at these places?

blackcat86 · 08/12/2019 11:49

The problem is that its easy to over ritualise the dead and focus too much on their perceived wants and needs (of course they have none). MIL constantly goes on about dead relatives, visiting and graves and their maintenance. She cant understand why this isnt a priority for family members with young families to care for. I have been clear that what people want when they die is up to them but I have no intention to visit graves or taking DD. Memories should be made and kept. Photos being out is lovely to but not everyone likes graveyards. I think it speaks volumes in your relationship with your child that he can confidently express this to you despite it being a difficult topic and I think its important that you respect what hes saying.

Keepmewarm · 08/12/2019 11:50

You sound like you have a beautiful relationship with your little one op.
You sound very thoughtful and kind.

Don’t let the opinions of others change that.

Spidey66 · 08/12/2019 11:58

My parents are buried in a tiny village in Ireland, where my dad was from. I live in North London. Obviously, it's rare I go there. I went just over a year back. It was the first time for a couple of years. I don't really need their grave to remind me of them, I prefer photos and memories.

While you sound like a great daughter and mum, people remember their deceased family members in different ways.

Honeybee85 · 08/12/2019 12:08

Just wanted to add, in the past years a few of my relatives have died. In my country it’s usual that the deceased are laid out in their coffin in their own home (usually in the living room) until the funeral takes place. People come to visit to offer the family/next -of- kin their condolences and to personally say goodbye to the deceased, often by just sitting next to them or touching their hand/ kissing their cheek or forehead etc. No idea if this is conmon too in the UK btw.

I am scared of dead people, no matter how close I were to them when they were alive. When others say: oh isn’t he or she looking beautiful, it’s like they’re sleeping, all I can think is: this is a dead body, this is not the person I knew anymore.
I’m sorry, I know it sounds harsh but it’s how I feel.
From that point of view, I prefer not to see the deceased laid out and prefer to remember them as they were before they died. Yet, every time someone in my family died in the past years, my mother/grandmother/auntie would try to pressure me to go see the body even though it made me feel highly uncomfortable. And I couldn’t remove the image of the deceased from my mind for days.
When my aunt died 3 years ago, I refused to go see her, I didn’t want to violate my own boundaries anymore so I wouldn’t possibly upset others.

What I’m trying to say is, death and deceased people can be a very scary concept for some people. They may not feel comfortable visiting seeing deceased loved ones or even visiting their graves. I think you should respect this, no matter how different this might feel for you. Death is something that everyone has very personal and individual feelings and opinions about and they should be respected even when they aren’t always understood by others.

Bunney2020 · 08/12/2019 12:15

OP you’re doing miles better than some of the commenters on here Flowers

You’re raising your child to have a healthy attitude to life and death and by showing your willing to change routes you’re respecting his boundaries. You doing brilliantly and I’m sure your mum is looking down on your proudly!

Sakura7 · 08/12/2019 12:26

I'm so sorry for your loss OP, what you've been through at such a young age is so hard and you have done amazingly well to come through it and be a wonderful parent to your children.

I think it's great that you have been able to get some comfort by visiting your mum's grave, but I agree that at this point it's becoming a bit too much for your son. He's trying to tell you that and you are listening, so please don't feel bad about what you have been doing up to now.

It may be that as he's getting older he's starting to understand a bit more about death, and the graveyard is a sad and/or scary place. My grandmother died when I was 2 and while we couldn't visit the grave often (on the other side of the country), my mother used to talk about her a lot. I remeber when I was about 5 or 6 those talks started to make me feel bad because a) my mother was sad and I didn't know what to do about it and b) it made death a very real thing and made me worry about my parents dying. I'm not saying you shouldn't talk about her at all, but just be conscious you're dealing with small kids and do it in a nice, non threatening way (like lighting a candle at home for her on Christmas day).

Would it be possible to talk to your Dad about this and ask him if he can mind the kids for half an hour once a week so that you can go to the grave?

Emmapeeler1 · 08/12/2019 12:32

You sound like you are doing everything right OP. And he obviously does like the ‘normal route’ after all! I bet he just at that moment yesterday didn’t want to go. I talk to my kids about my Dad all the time, in a casual way. We also visit his grave and talk to him about the people in the graves in a matter of fact way. If we lived five mins I would certainly visit it more. As long as it’s a fun, casual trip and not the sole purpose of your walks it’s fine.

Next time come to the bereavement board where there are lots of lovely people who understand Xmas Smile

U2HasTheEdge · 08/12/2019 13:12

OP you are NOT damaging him. You walk the dog and visit the graveyard, that is not damaging. No doubt he wants to stay at home on Xmas day because he doesn't want to leave his toys. I doubt it runs any deeper than that.

You have had some awful replies which must have hurt like hell to read. Please remember it says so much more about them than it does you. Anyone who thinks it is psychologically damaging for him to ride his bike and sit on a bench and eat chocolate needs to get a grip.

My young children lost their father. It will be 6 years next week and no they are not 'over it'. They won't part with his ashes yet and one of my children still cries at times because he misses him so much. If anyone told them that they should be over it by now I think I would struggle not to throttle them.

@SarahNade stop telling the OP she is going to traumatise her son. It's untrue, cruel and really bloody ignorant. Children shouldn't go to funerals,? what rot. Should I have kept mine at home when it was their dad's funeral then? It is OK for children to see adults cry, it is OK for them to become overwhelmed when seeing people upset. Hurt is a normal and healthy emotion at times and shielding them away from it can cause much more damage.

OP, you sound really lovely. Please do not let this thread make you feel bad. You are clearly a great mum and I have no doubt at all that your mum would be very proud of you.

RexDangerVest · 08/12/2019 13:32

@SarahNade I understand children very well thank you. Surely anyone who properly read the OPs posts can see that scooting through a graveyard, saying hi to granny & sitting eating chocolate buttons on a bench is not traumatising this child!! Of course you have to choose your words carefully & consider your child's personality - I don't doubt that an anxious child or one that has experienced trauma could become worried about death... but this is clearly not the case here. The OP said her mum died before her son was born! Me and my young kids walk through a graveyard regularly and I always answer their questions honestly. They know people have died and are buried there. They enjoy looking at the different headstones and things people have left there. I find it so sad that people are so quick to turn it into such a negative thing.

ThumbWitchesAbroad · 08/12/2019 14:56

@eastmeanswestmum - honestly, from what you've said, you are not traumatising or damaging your little boy. He sounds fine. He enjoys his walks through the graveyard, he likes to see where granny's grave is, and he likes to eat the chocolate buttons.
He doesn't appear to be upset or scared or anything like that, so it may just be that he doesn't want to go out on Christmas Day because he wants to stay in and play and watch tv, and that might be all there is to it.

Just keep playing it by ear, listen to what he says, ask him how he feels if you want to and stay open. But please don't stop doing what you're doing because of a bunch of people on MN shouting about "damage".

Valanice1989 · 08/12/2019 15:56

I'm pretty shocked at people saying the OP should disregard her son's feelings, implying that it's selfish of him not to want to go to the cemetery. One poster even compared it to him not wanting to go to school!

He's four. He's at an age where he becomes more aware of what death actually means. When I was around that age, I learned what happens to our bodies after we die. He may recently have learned that as well, in which case he may be disturbed by the idea of standing next to the spot where his decomposed granny's skeleton is lying underground. He may be frightened of losing his own mum. It's not wrong for the OP to want to visit her mum's grave, but it's also not wrong for her son not to want to visit it.

TooManyPaws · 08/12/2019 16:25

My grandfather died when my father was two; he had no memories of him. All he remembered were the sad visits every Sunday to the cemetery to his father's and grandfather's graves. Until he was in his eighties and I had found some papers and photos when clearing his sister's house, he had never seen his father's handwriting, knew his father and mother's shortened names between them or even his own baby nickname. All the actual events and details of his father were a mystery to him as he was rarely spoken of, just known as the weekly visit to a cold tombstone that made his mother sad. He cried when he found out those tiny details of his father for the first time.

You lost your mother in a horrible way at a time when you needed her but your children never knew her. Bring her alive to them as a person with little details about her in a natural way, such as books she would read to you or little things she would say when you were small. Are there any things of her that you see in your children? Put a lovely photo of her in a frame on the side with flowers and talk about her as a living, loving person rather than someone whose loss makes you sad. Make mention of her normal in stories and general talk to make her live in your memory and for your children. ❤️

rattusrattus20 · 08/12/2019 16:54

i think OP should think about maybe taking the kids to the grave say on their DGM's birthday, those sorts of occasions. weekly is too much and, maybe, christmas day is too much too.

TripleSeptic · 08/12/2019 16:55


I wish I could edit this thread and delete all the arsehole comments and leave you with the decent, caring posts, and the ones from folk who have made the effort to read your updates/responses, if they couldn't be arsed to read the full thread. Good work today, your wee son is a diamond and a credit to you Flowers

DaisyDreaming · 08/12/2019 17:19

You haven’t been doing anything wrong as he was happy until now so don’t feel bad about it. All that matters is you listen to him

DeRigueurMortis · 08/12/2019 17:41

What a lovely update OP Thanks

I suspect based on that that the issue might just be about Christmas Day.

Just keep playing it by ear. He had the perfect opportunity to express himself today if he didn't want to visit the grave and still chose to do so.

A think a PP made a really great point when describing going to visit her GM's grave with her Italian GF. That it wasn't morbid or upsetting because how how her GF behaved (tending the grave, having a chat with other visitors to the graveyard etc),

I think a lot of cultures have a much healthier attitude to death/grief than we Brits often have. It's part of life and they don't shy away from it.

Tending a grave, a few moments of reflection, chocolate buttons, a chat and then to the park is not damaging to a child and as long as he's comfortable with it (which it seems he is) then I see no need to change your routine for now.

Disfordarkchocolate · 08/12/2019 17:58

Lovely update OP, you are very sensitive to your son's needs. He sounds a lovely chap.

Sparklybaublefest · 08/12/2019 18:12

Happy with your latest news op

Aridane · 08/12/2019 18:33

THIS, is what people are missing, we are talking about a 4 year old child here. Not a grown adult. People are missing that. Things like this traumatise a child

What - walking the dog? eating chocolate buttons? and going to the park ? The horror, the traumas 🤔

Aridane · 08/12/2019 18:35

Sorry if this has already been raised and answered and I've missed this but surely the dog has to be walked anyway, whether it's Sunday, Christmas Day or any other day.

OP is a single mum so son has to go on the dog walk. There's no way around it. He's probably finding the walks cold and/or boring and would rather be doing something else but she can't leave him on his own so tough, he needs to be a bit cold/bored for 10 minutes.

And since the walk has to take place, why shouldn't it be through the graveyard once a week or so? Maybe the compromise is that it's a "passing through" visit rather then a "stop and wait" visit. I agree that children need to understand that whilst their feelings, wants and needs are important, they need to be balanced with the needs of their mum, and dog!

Exactly ! - but, @honeylulu, , maybe the dog is being traumatised?

Sorry for your loss Flowers

Beamur · 08/12/2019 19:50

Your update brought a tear to my eye. What a great kid and you sound like a caring and thoughtful Mum.

BlouseAndSkirt · 08/12/2019 20:05

“Your update brought a tear to my eye. What a great kid and you sound like a caring and thoughtful Mum”


There is no problem going in here OP. You have a lovely happy little boy and great family values. Be proud of yourself and all that you are doing.

contentedsoul · 08/12/2019 20:17

Maybe he now relises what graves actually are - full of dead people
To a 5yr old that's got to be pretty unnerving,
Childhood should be memories of blue skies and rainbows, not tombstones.
It took a lot of thought I bet before he could say to you he didn't want to go anymore....poor kid!

msflibble · 08/12/2019 20:23

OP, glad to hear your son has had a change of heart. Probably he was just being fickle earlier as four year olds so often are!
It's great that you listened to him and are in tune with his needs, you sound like a deeply sensitive and caring mum. He's lucky to have you.
All the best Flowers

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