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August 1st, 2012 05:15 PM #1Member
- Join Date
- Dec 2011
How do you handle death and funerals with your kids?
How do you handle the topic of death with your kids? Do you discuss death and loss with them? Do you bring them to wakes? Funerals?
We received a call a few hours ago that my husband's uncle, who's been battling cancer for some time, has taken a turn for the worse and likely won't make it through the night. My husband's at the hospital right now, while I'm home with our boys, so I haven't been able to discuss this with him yet. Unless his uncle makes a miraculous recovery (which we are, of course, praying for), the wake and funeral will be in a couple days.
Philip is only 5 months, but Theodore is 2 and 1/2 and will notice that his daddy isn't home to tuck him in tonight. I'm not sure what I should tell him. I'm also don't know if we should bring the boys to the wake and/or funeral. I'm thinking we'll get a sitter for Philip, but is Teddy old enough to learn about death and loss? I'm thinking that maybe we bring him to either the funeral or the wake. I think he would probably do better at the funeral - he's used to sitting through mass every Sunday - than the wake (I'm worried that the open casket might scare him.)
I'd love some advice and to hear how you've handled this with your kids.
Thanks!Mom to Teddy and Pip. Naming #3.
August 1st, 2012 05:26 PM #3
I don't have children, but I remember I went to a funeral when I was somewhere between 3-5, I really don't remember. It really depends how well the kids know him. My great uncle died and my parents brought me and my younger sister to the funeral. We basically didn't know him so at the time I remember being bored and wanting to go home. We ended up hanging out with cousins. Thinking back on it now, I guess it might be considered disrespectful, but we were kids and we didn't really know our great uncle since we never met him.
Now, my parents really had no choice but to take us since the funeral was a state away from where we were living.
I don't remember if our parents really told us more than that our great uncle died and we were going to a funeral. We just were too little to care. Now if your kids are really close to their I'm assuming great uncle, then it might affect them... but they seem to be very little so I'm guessing they won't be able to understand it really.
August 1st, 2012 05:35 PM #5Junior Member
- Join Date
- Jul 2012
I think it's really up to you. I went to many funerals as a child, and as a result I don't find death to be a scary upsetting thing. I am very glad that I wasn't kept away from death and dying a a child, as it's helped in my adult life. However, at the ages of your boys, I would not take them. Only because they're too young to really understand and you will be able to talk to friends and family a little easier.
Good luck, and I'm sorry for this illness
August 1st, 2012 05:42 PM #7
I have a two year old, and luckily we haven't had any funerals to attend lately. If we had to go to a funeral for a close family member tomorrow, I probably would take her. When she was an infant, one of her grandfather's died. It seemed to really help/comfort my mother-in-law to have her there. So that's something to consider too. My grandfather died when I was 3, and I have clear memories of the funeral. I will say, that the open casket did not scare me. I was really more confused/fascinated by it. I have other family members that are strongly against taking children to funerals. They wouldn't even take their 14 year old to her uncle's funeral. To each their own, I suppose.
August 1st, 2012 05:47 PM #9
I really don't think that young children should attend formal, highly emotional events such as a funeral or wake. They're too young to understand what's going on and you never know how they're going to react. While your toddler may be able to sit through mass, funerals are very different. For one, there's a coffin (do you know if it's going to be open casket?) which could be frightening to a young child (heck, there are plenty of adults that don't do well with caskets). For another, there's probably going to be a lot of people crying and grieving, which could confuse and upset your child. And if your kid happens to become unruly or cries? Then you're the person whose kid interrupted a funeral/wake which is probably going to upset a lot of people.
If this was your child's grandparent, I could see taking them just because they would have an attachment to the deceased but since this is only your sons' great-uncle, I would either leave them with a babysitter or have your husband go alone.
August 1st, 2012 06:03 PM #11Senior Member
- Join Date
- Jul 2012
I agree with Pansy. It can be quite disruptive with them crying and wanting to run around and play, and they may also be confused why everyone is crying and then start crying too. I personally wouldn't take them unless they are attached to him or if someone in the family asks for them to come.
I'm 13 and I still am not ready for death and loss. I recently watched my dog get put down and I must tell you that is the most soul crushing experience I've ever encountered, and still haunts me every day. Your sons may not understand it, but I don't necessarily think they should attend.Catelin GenevaJust an author teen obsessed with names and future babies when she's much older.
Thisbe, Sailor, Sansa, Genevieve, Elowen, Alice, Cecily :: Gideon, Finn, Theon, Jude, Liam, August, Caspian, Brigan, Emrys
August 1st, 2012 06:12 PM #13
I also wanted to add that it would probably be fine to take your son to the reception since those are less formal and there's no set time that you have to stay.
August 2nd, 2012 09:54 AM #15Senior Member
- Join Date
- Nov 2009
I agree with Pansy. The concept of death is almost impossible for a child under the age of 10 to fully grasp. Unless it was a family member my child was extremely close to (such as a grandparent), I would not take a child that age to the wake or funeral. A reception afterwards, I think would be fine. This is a good time to start talking about it. Not in details, and depending on your religious beliefe, but in our house at the age of your 2 yo son, it would go something like this " ____ died, he went to heaven to be with Jesus, and people are sad b/c he won't be here with us anymore, he is in his new home now"....... repeat if questioned.~ "How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers."~ Mother Teresa
August 8th, 2012 11:06 PM #17Senior Member
- Join Date
- Aug 2011
I'm really of no help with a 2-year-old but when I was about 8 my great-grandmother died and my younger brother and younger cousins and I just went to the reception. But we all understood just fine, even the 4-year-olds. One of my cousins who is 5 now just lost a great-aunt who he was very close with and he attended the funeral. He talked to me about it the other day and it was a very grown-up conversation for him. He knew Auntie was very sick, and I think he knew she couldn't live such a difficult live any longer.Anastasia, Miranda, Lydia, Isabella, Georgia, Arena, Cadenza
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