The Purple family have lost a very dear family member very recently. Purpledad’s beloved Father has passed away. The funeral has been arranged for this Friday and we are left with the question of whether to take the children to the funeral.
On the one hand I feel like this is an opportunity to teach our children about death and how we deal with death in our culture. It’s a part of life and I don’t want to hide it away or make it something to be scared of. I think that perhaps if it becomes a fact of life from an early age then it is normalised and easier for them to deal with.
On the other hand at the funeral there will no doubt be an outpouring of grief. Their Dad and other close relatives will cry and I’m not sure how all this emotion will make them feel. I don’t want the children to be upset or worried by all the grief.
Like any self respecting internet geek I have obviously googled this topic to look for advice. The general consensus seems to be that aged four and over children should be asked if they want to attend. You should explain to them exactly what will happen at the funeral and then let them decide whether to go. Since Wonder Girl is only two she won’t be able to make an informed decision so it is up to us to make it for her.
I think we are leaning towards taking them if this is what they choose. If Wonder Girl is noisy or disruptive I will take her outside so as not to disturb the funeral. We will explain everything to them before the event and address any concerns they have before, during and after. We are a very open family and no question will be taboo.
What do you think? Have you taken children to a funeral? How did it go and in retrospect was it the right decision? Did you leave your children at home, and how do you feel now about that? I’d love your input to help me to make this decision. I really want to do what’s right for Purpledad and be there to support him but I also want to make this decision based on what’s right for our children.
When N died, her 5 year old came and she really got it, but it was her mum’s funeral, it would have been odd to make any other choice.
Yes I can see that, as a celebration of her Mothers life she needed to be there.
I’m sorry to hear of your recent loss. 🙁
I agree with what you say about ‘normalising’ all facts of life. Death is one of those. Regrettably, there’s no way they’ll be able to avoid coming across it again in their (hopefully long) lifetimes.
I also firmly believe that children benefit from seeing us grown-ups deal with difficulties. To see that adults get sad and that it is not only normal, but a necessary part of a grieving process, is a valuable lesson for them.
I would suggest explaining to them beforehand what to expect (even to your 2 year old) so that there isn’t a surprise when the adults get upset. My guess would be that they’ll be understanding, empathetic and sympathetic to the grief around them… and will probably have a cry themselves.
Best of luck. Sorry that you’re having to deal with this at all. 🙁 x
Great advice and pretty much what I think we will do, thanks.
I personally chose not to take my young son to his father’s funeral as I felt the grief would be so overwhelming that it may overwhelm him. I also felt that I needed this time to be able to feel however I needed to without trying to be strong for him. I do agree with you though that it is important for children to learn about and be given a chance to grieve in their own way so myself and a very few close friends that my child knew well gathered at a different time and let a balloon go with notes that all but the very youngest child had written of a thing or time they could remember with my husband. That way my son was involved in and witnessed grief but in a much more muted way than the complete rawness of the funeral. You know your children best. Do what you think is right for them…but also for you in your own grief on the day. Best wishes.
That sounds like a really great solution, you got to do your grieving at the funeral and still provide an outlet for you son, well done. Sorry to hear he lost his Dad so young though.
I have taken all my children to every funeral that has been connected to them personally, and my eldest to my neighbour’s when she was only about 15 months old. I told her that although Aunty was now happy in Heaven that everyone missed her so they might be crying but that was OK. And I took a wee pot of chocolate buttons to keep her quiet in the service.
Since then I’ve had 4 more children and we have lost some very dear friends and family – they have been to every service, cremations and burials, and I think it has been good for them. I was kept away from my own grandmother’s funeral and 30 years later I still feel cheated of my “right” to say goodbye, so for me it was an easy decision.
Having said all that, you know your children best. And I am very sorry for your loss. The loss of a parent must be agonising.
That’s good to know thanks. I will go armed with chocolate buttons.
We had a family funeral last week and I took Potato who is 13 months old. He is too you to understand what was happening, so my main concerns were him being affected by seeing people so upset, and whether he’d disrupt proceedings. My cousin also took her 2 1/2yr old SEN boy.
Both boys were very well behaved and their presence seemed to lift spirits somewhat, especially as we were waiting for the limos to arrive and while gathering afterwards. Maybe its because it reminds people of the circle of life and the hope of new life ahead, or maybe because it’s impossible to be too sad when faced with 2 smiliing babies.Both my cousin & I had to briefly take out littleones out at points in the service. Potato started chatting away during a quiet bit, so I stood by the door and watched and listened for a bit.
I don’t know if this helps you at att, becaues Potato is younger than your children, but I know I’m glad I took him
I had considered that the children being there might bring some welcome light to the proceedings, glad to hear yours did.
I’m so sorry to hear your sad news.
We have just had a similar situation. My children are three and five. We decided to break the news over dinner and let them ask any questions and answer them with honesty, but without giving them more information than they required.
We made the decision that they are not ready for a funeral yet as I feel it could be quite distressing.
I think you should go by your gut instinct. You know your children better than anyone else.
Deepest Sympathy to you and your family.
Fair enough, it’s a really personal decision and only you know what’s best for your family.
From reading the above comments, your post, knowing the ages of your children, and that you and your husband that are likely to be upset, I believe that to leave your two children out of the service, but to have them with you afterward at the family gathering/wake would be best. I think that MummyisKate next to me put it brilliantly. And they are very young. Sorry for your loss.
This would be an ideal solution. Unfortunately since it is a six hour drive away only attending the wake isn’t really an option.
So sorry for your family’s loss.
I went to a funeral of a relative (not a close one)when Ellie was almost 3. I was a little concerned that other people would judge me on my decision to take her, and asked the family how they would feel about her being there – they all agreed that they would neither mind, nor judge. I wasn’t sure whether it was the right thing, but based my judgement on the fact that she would understand very little about what was happening so was unlikely to be frightened/upset. I distracted her as the coffin was brought in to avoid questions in the church, and did not take her near to the graveside. She took very little notice of what was happening, or of the grief around her. I actually think she was a gentle distraction on the day, family came across to see her, and make a fuss of her, so lightening the mood a little.
I do take her with me to the cemetery when I visit my Mom’s grave now, she has started to ask questions ‘why did she die?’and I tell her that she was very, very poorly so as not to frighten her into thinking people always die when they are poorly.
I think you are doing the right thing by giving them a choice, they are already aware of the loss, and are no doubt witnessing the grief, the boys in particular being a little older may want to say goodbye to their grandad, whereas Wondergirl is maybe too little to understand so is unlikely to be affected x
I was concerned about how other people might react to us taking them too. Though overall my main concern is for my husband and children.
I have just spent 20 mins trying to share my thoughts. Struggling. I suppose my response is; mine have always gone. They are now old enough to choose. They have chosen to go to a family funeral next week. They aren’t scared or daunted, they are learning to understand. Aren’t we all?
Yes, it’s interesting how many people have taken theirs now that I asked. I really thought we were out on a limb and no-one took children to funerals.
Really difficult decision. I feel that really young children probably just wouldn’t know what was going on and therefore wouldn’t ‘benefit’ from going to a funeral. Sorry to hear about your loss. Best wishes.
I think my six year old particularly will understand and my four year old too on some level and it will give them an chance to say goodbye. My two year old you are right won’t benefit particularly but childcare wise not taking her would be difficult so perhaps it won’t hurt her?
The thought that sprung to mind most for me is how much purple dad is going to need you that day, as an arm on his, a constant support. I personally would not take the kids. I took Amy as a baby to her grandmothers funeral and she was a welcome tonic to all who attended. I did not take her to my brothers funeral aged 4. I needed to concentrate on coping and needed Dan to concentrate on helping me cope. good luck with your choice.
Yes I’m concerned about that too but he is keen on the children being there. We are a very close family and having them their to cuddle would be good for him.
Sorry for your loss.
I have only once had this decision to make, but on a course I had attended about helping children deal with grief, I was given some advice that stuck with me, and thought I would share.
I was told to imagine a situation in a few years time when your child is old enought t be asking about their family/family tree and wants to know about nana etc. when you explain that they died, and your child asks “did I get to at goodbye at the funeral?” Coud you justify your decision.
I also recommend a book called “badgers parting gift” not for everybody, but my daughter was really helped by it.
That’s a good way of thinking about it. In hindsight probably most children would have wanted to say goodbye to lost relatives.
I took my daughter to my nephews funeral when she was 10 months old, obviously she had no clue what was happening but it felt right, she wasn’t able to see him in the SCBU and I wanted her to have some part in his life. I spoke to my brother about it first (my nephews dad) and he was really happy for her to be there, in fact they encouraged other people in the family to bring children too. She was quite vocal through the funeral and I did take her out the room but afterwards everyone commented that it was lovely to have her there as well as the others as it gave everyone something to smile about too and lighten the grief we were all feeling, my brother told me she was a positive light to the day… The other two children were 8 and 10 and my personal opinion is for children old enough to understand is it gives them a chance to see this is part of life, that people do die and it’s very sad, heartbreaking but we deal with it together and support each other as we learn to cope with our grief and that as time moves on we heal a little and put the pieces back together. I think it’s OK for children to see us adults sad and vulnerable as they can also then see us learn to deal with it and that’s an important lesson for them to learn too, it gives them a foundation for later in their life when they have to face something similar.
Yes I also agree that within reason it’s normal and healthy for children to see adults express a range of emotions. That’s real life after all and if all they ever saw were happy parents boy would they get a shock the one day I needed to be sad. Thanks for your input.
I’m so sorry for your loss. In Trinidad it is normal for children to go to funerals and even walk past the open casket. Death is very much seen as a part of life and we tend to be very expressive of our grief. Only you can make that call for your children but my personal experience is that I always learned a lot from funerals. They may also have given me closure. I think children are a lot stronger and more resilient than we realise. All the best with this difficult decision. No doubt you will have challenging explanations to make either way.
Yes indeed, I imagine there will be a lot of questions afterwards.
So sorry for your loss. I know how painful it is to lose a parent. When I lost my Mum my two youngest were 6 & 9 years old and I chose not to have them at the funeral because I was worried that I might break down and upset them. I did nearly collapse at the graveside and I think seeing me like that would have been too distressing for them. I needed Hubby by my side throughout the whole day. Taking them to the wake is a nice idea because everyone tends to be more relaxed with a happier atmosphere xxx
Yes, the wake is a good chance for the children to be part of the proceedings.
You can’t make a wrong choice – or a right choice – either way it’s tricky. But I can advise you to be prepared ahead of time for the questions and know what you’re going to say. Felix’s grandad died when I was pregnant so his whole life has been full of questions about dying – what happens to his body – where is he now – what does it fell like – when are we (his parents) going to die – we didn’t want to talk about cremation because we thought that seemed scary…. When a friend died, we didn’t talk to him about it at all (nor take him to the funeral) because we had only just established that people only die when they are very very old and big like trees….
Anyway, just as I said there is no right choice – there’s also no wrong choice…. And insure you guys will handle it brilliantly whatever. I’m sorry to hear about your FIL – give Dave a hug from me. Jx
Thanks Jenny. We have also only really covered old people dying with our children, anything else would worry them at this stage. Their Grandad was reasonably old so hopefully this will be ok.
Reading all the comments you can really see everyone has different opinions about this and have made it work their way. I think you will know what is best for you, the kids and Purpledad. I was not taken to my grandads funeral though and I still feel sad I did not go even though I don’t remember him. Maybe I would remember him if I had been allowed to go, I don’t know. My mum also regrets not taking me and my brother still, and this is 30 odd years on. We have had a relative die recently and his daughter took her five year old. Arriving at the church she (the five year old) then made the decision herself that she did not want to attend the service and she played outside with a more distant relative. I do think it is important to include your kids – but what a hard decision. I know you will do what is right for you and the family.
Sorry for your loss. Whatever you decide to do as a family on Friday, I hope it is a meaningful and warm day. We haven’t faced this yet, as my dad died before my children were born, but I spoke at his funeral and I think they would have liked my speech – I may read it to them one day. It sounds trivial, but I think the act of sitting at eating together after a death is an important ritual, the ultimate demonstration of life-goes-on however much you want it not too for a while – so even if they don’t go to the funeral maybe a meal where you talk about him and tell stories is a nice idea. xx