31 answers

2 Year Old at a Funeral

Hi everyone,
So we got sad news this morning, my husband's grandmother passed suddenly last night. He's there with his mom making arrangements now (I don't have details yet) and I know that means there will be a funeral in our future.

Here's the quesiton, our daughter is 2 and I'm not sure what do do with her during the service. We can't really send her with anyone (they'll all be at the service) and she's glued to me when there are "new" people around. Any suggestions on how to keep her quietly busy during the service?


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So What Happened?™

Thank you all so much for not only your ideas but your support. You gals are so helpful!

We did end up bringing our daughter to all the events. Thank you for the ideas about new toys (we got some books and a magnadoodle). She is a very good public child (thank you God!) and she was quiet when she needed to be and provided distraction when it was needed. She was even good about going to aunts and uncles she doesn't see much. We also told her that Grandma Mary went to heaven to become an angel and we're sad because we don't get to "hang out" with her any more. She understood that and started giving out hugs and kisses to people that were crying then telling me that she was making everyone "all better".

Thank you again for your thoughts and prayers.

Featured Answers

My daughter was 4 when my mom died. I brought a small back pack and filled it with crayons, coloring book, stickers and snacks. Also brought a small box of legos and my small dvd player. I put the dvd player on in the back of the room with a video that my kids loved. They used the ear phones.. so noone was bothered. it worked out wonderful and people understand that a kid needs to be entertained.

I'm so very sorry.
I recently had to make the exact same decision. I opted to stay away from the wake and funeral with my son, but met up with the family at my husband's aunt's house between the 2 sessions of the wake and immediately after the funeral.

I'll be going through the same thing here. My father died over the weekend and my grandchildren age ages 2-5 yrs old. My father lived for his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren so they will be at the ceremony. If they get restless then their parents or one of the aunties will take them for a little walk outside. I think children show that life is certainly a circle and their presence usually lightens up the situation.

More Answers

Too bad you live in CT. I would have offered to babysit for you!

So sorry for your loss! (Maybe just bring crayons and a coloring book or something to keep her busy)

Sorry for your loss. I recently lost my sister who left a 22 month old behind and she was not to come to any of the services. I wouldn't suggest bringing your 2yo to the funeral. If you have absolutely no one to watch her for that short time, then the other moms have given good advise on how to keep her busy.

K.---this is such a sad and stressful time for all of the family. It is best if you could find someone to care for your two year old as they don't understand and you can never predict their wonderful two year old mind. She could be a distraction and "bother" to some. She could also be a gift to others. But if she absolutely will not be comfortable with someone away from you...how about hiring a responsible teenager who is good with children to come to the funeral and have them in a separate room with all sorts of toys and activities planned for her. She could be present at the "reception" following if this happens if you feel she is well rested. Your husband will need your support at this time. You could have someone from your side of the family help and SHARE the care for her while in the same funeral home in a separate room. Chances are your side of the family will not all stay around the entire time and would welcome a breathing time to help you out. Best Wishes and God Bless your family during this time. good luck with in your decision. R.

Hi K.
I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. My husband and I have a 3 year old son. Since his birth, we've had 5 or 6 deaths in our families - all close family members: my father-in-law, grandmother-in-law, my grandfather, two of my husband's aunts...you get the picture.

Right or wrong, we've had him with us for each of the wakes and funerals we've attended. He's been great in every situation except one when I needed to leave the church service (for my father-in-law's funeral) because he just couldn't sit still any longer. Obviously, it's easier when the child is an infant, but we had 3 deaths in the last year which means our son was 2 or a little more...your daughter's age now.

We found that having him there helped EVERYONE! It was a wonderful distraction for grieving family - "someone close to us isn't with us anymore, but look at this wonderful blessing in our lives now!" That truly has been everyone's reactions.

I brought quiet toys/books for our son to play with, and let him play on the floor in the back of funeral home at the wake. there was always someone willing to watch him if I really needed my own time for grieving or needed to greet people. And even when he was a little louder than I wanted, the innocence of the questions seemed to comfort people (I know that sounds weird).

My biggest suggestion is this: do NOT tell your daughter that her great-grandmother is sleeping! We started saying that when our son asked what was wrong with (fill-in-the-blank) and then realized that he wasn't so crazy about going to sleep or having me and my husband go to sleep. Just tell her that great-gram when to see Jesus, or went to heaven, or went someplace very special...whatever you're comfortable with or your faith says.

I know this is lengthy and I apologize, but I've been there and want you to know that whatever you decide, it's YOUR decision. YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND need to be comfortable with whatever you decide. Don't worry about other people, worry about taking care of yourselves and your daughter and everything else will work itself out.

Let me know if there are any other questions you have. Again, I'm very sorry for your loss.

Hi K., I am so sorry for your loss. If this is Catholic service (all I am really familiar with), I would suggest you walk in with your husband and his family but just make sure you are seated at the end of the pew. This way you can get up and walk out without much of a distraction. My dad recently passed and he loved kids, my sister-in-law was there with my beautiful 3 year old niece and this is how she plans. I stated my dad loves kids because we feel kids and their actions are totally fine (as, of course, they are so young they do not know to be perfectly quiet, etc.) but most other older people to do feel this way and find it very disrepectful. Just have an "escape route," and you should be fine. Again, my sympathies!

we took my daughter to the funeral service, but not to the cemetary. oddly enough, it was as if she knew to be quiet, she was great. i think any toy that keeps her attention would be great, esp books or a magnadoodle. maybe even get some new toys would help. i know it was suddenly, but assuming she was older, i wouldnt worry too much. every elderly service i have been too has had children at it, and alot of talking. when you are old and die, people are happy to reminisce about the good times. its the young who die that are quiet, as you are thinking what they have missed.

the only part that is quiet, is the service itself, and if needed, you can stand out of view or hearing. and imo, they are pretty short. since its the grandmother, you dont have to be as involved as far as greeting everyone. it will be fine. i am sorry for your loss, take care

Please accept my condolences ... I understand the problem you're having. When my husband's grandfather died, my children were 6 and 2. The 6 y/o wanted to say good bye to pop-pop, but the 2 y/o couldn't be expected to deal with the situation at all. I stayed in the lobby with my 2 y/o while my husband took my older daughter in. Then he stayed with the baby, while I went in to see the family and express my sadness.

My husband and I took turns staying with the kids in the lobby during the viewing. We played with puzzles and leggos.

During the service, I stayed outside with the kids. They didn't need to see the adults crying and dealing with that kind of grief. I feel it would have been frightening, especially for my 2 y.o who couldn't understand what was going on.

With my husbands blessings, the children and I did not go to the burial. We felt that would be too traumatic, and too difficult for either kid to understand. The family understood the dilemma and were not upset or insulted that I took the children home.

I hope you and your husband can come to an agreement that will meet the needs of your child and the rest of the family as well.

Will she color quietly? Look at books? Snacks? When my own Mom passed away this spring, my cousin and his family sat way in the back and kept our older son (5 1/2). My younger son (3) sat with my husband and me, and was good, because he was up front and could see everything that was going on. I also had my babysitter with us (teenager from the neighborhood) so if they did start to act up, I had someone who could take them out during the service. (She also came back to the house afterward to keep them entertained as necessary...)


Most funeral homes have rooms for children you can go to if your little one needs to or you can go in the hall. However at my grandmother's services the children were a welcome reminder of the way life goes on, and provides some happiness in a terrible time.

Hi K.,
I am very sorry for your family's loss. If the funeral is during a weekend, would it be possible to hire a teenaged sitter to come with you and take your daughter out of the service if need be? Or do any of the family members near where the service will be held know of a sitter who could come along? Otherwise, you might need to be willing to step out with her if she gets too rambunctious.

It's expected that there will be children at a funeral. Try to dress her nicely, but comfortably so she won't get figety over her clothes. Take a bag of snacks and the normal tricks just like you would anywhere else. Don't worry about others being annoyed at a child being there. She has every right. She may even put some smiles on otherwise very sad faces, so enjoy that she'll be with you, and try not to get stressed out trying to keep her completely still and quiet.

Another thought, if the service will be at a church you can ask the pastor about a sitter. He may be able to find a teenager (if school is out) who will be able to sit in the nursery with the young ones. Possibly even a newer member of the church who didn't know your husbands grandmother.

Hi K.
So sorry for your loss.
Try to concentrate on the fun memories as the days go by.
As for a two year old at the funeral, that depends on your family. I never went to a funeral when I was small. Our family was against such things. Now my husband's family anything goes because they feel that it is a time to show the family life goes on. It is not quite so solemn that way.
As far as the service goes bring what you do on Sundays. Then she will recognize/know the routine.
Again we would have been left home, but when my dad passed away the kids went. By then mom had calmed down about kids being there and infact wanted the whole family together. It was her favorite memory in the days, weeks, years ahead that she would remember her children, their spouses and children her and dad all lined up at once to greet the people that were gifts God had sent to us for that purpose.
God bless you and your family as you make decisions
K. SAHM married 38 years with 4 grown children

Bring along some books, and a small favorite stuffed animal or two. No toys, and no food unless it's going to be a long funeral and you can find something non-messy and quiet to feed her. You don't have to sit in the front row; you can sit off to the side. When my grandmother died, my daughters were 1 and 3, and this is what we did. They were quiet for most of the time, but they did move about and occasionally had something to say. My aunt commented to me later that she was so glad I had brought them along ( no choice really, just like you) because watching them gave her something to smile about. Children should be brought to funerals; they are a part of life. If you start now, your daughter won't be frightened by them later. She will also see that it's ok for grownups to be sad. I hope this helps you. My condolences to you and your husband.

I am so sorry to hear of your family's loss. Is there any way to hire a babysitter or ask a friend to help out? In the best of circumstances, it is difficult to control a toddler in a "quiet" situation, let alone one where you and your husband may be out of sorts. If you absolutely need to take her, I recommend sticker books or any new toy that she will love that will occupy her attention for a while. Best of luck!

a portable dvd player - may "better" moms than me strike me down for saying that but it works like a charm for us in restaurants & long car rides so i'm sure it would also keep a little girl quiet in a service for 1/2 hour. sorry for your loss & good luck :)

First of all- My condolences to your husband and your family.
Secondly- i actually just took my 5 month old to a funeral service. The church had a baby room and it was great. That was where we sat. It had glass, so we could see everything, a speaker, so we could hear and rocking chairs, and lots of floor space for the baby to play and not bother anyone else. Perhaps check to see if there is a baby room or something similar at the place where the service will be held. Good luck.

I am sorry for your lose. I have two boys, one 4 years old and one 6 mths old. I just recently lost my Grandmother, who my son called Nanny. I explained what happened & took both kids to the wake. I took things for him to color & small toys (all new so he didn't see them before). I also took some cookies, juice & some candy to hold him over if he needed to snack. He stayed inside the room & also outside the room where they was also chairs to sit on. I hope I helped.

Bring some books, small toys, coloring book w/crayons. Maybe let her pack it in a favorite bag or backpack. Bring small snacks. In the past I have had to bring both my small children to more than one wake and church funeral. People will be so gracious and helpful. Many funeral homes even have a few toys,books etc in there lounge area. (I've even been to one in NJ that had a tiny playroom). I think it is great (and important)that she will attend her great grandmother's service. Sorry for your loss, hope all goes well.

I'll be going through the same thing here. My father died over the weekend and my grandchildren age ages 2-5 yrs old. My father lived for his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren so they will be at the ceremony. If they get restless then their parents or one of the aunties will take them for a little walk outside. I think children show that life is certainly a circle and their presence usually lightens up the situation.

We just had the exact same experience. I'm sorry for your loss. As far as the service, we just sat in the very last row in case we needed to exit so as not to disrupt the service and I just very quietly gave my boys (3 and 1 1/2) snacks during the entire service. They were silent the entire time and it seemed to help people to see them as the procession left the church. People were very into the whole "circle of life" thing. Many people were happy to see my husband's grandmother's energy continuing through our boys. Whatever happens, even if she winds up being totally disruptive, which I doubt. She so little people will understand and honestly many will be happy with the youthful distraction.

I'm so very sorry.
I recently had to make the exact same decision. I opted to stay away from the wake and funeral with my son, but met up with the family at my husband's aunt's house between the 2 sessions of the wake and immediately after the funeral.

We through this at about the same age. I brought things like others have suggested. Funeral Homes have rooms to go to for you to be away from the service if she gets too fussy. Family that we don't see very often, were pleased to see her inbetween things going on. One of my cousins took care of her while I had to be part of the service. Children at services are a reminder for people that life goes on, and can be a help in the grief process. Just use your judgement and keep her away from the quiet, serious service part if she's wiggly and not interested.

Hello! I'm sorry to hear about your husband's grandmother. My children are now 9 and 11. What we did when my daughter was 2 and we were going to church is got a little basket with a lid and told her that was her church bag. She could bring a couple little toys(cars, horses,)etc... that will fit in a little basket. We also brought a small drink and a zip lock of cheerios. This usually kept her quiet and it became a routine that she could put something special in the basket. My grandfather died when my daughter was 2 and she went to the wake, church and the cemetary. We had the same issue that everyone would be @ the service. She didn't quite understand and kept asking alot of questions, but there were so many people that she was fine. She went around saying hello to people and even helped people to think about something else. If she does start to act up then take her out side or down to the waiting room. People will understand she is jsut a little person. Everything will work out fine. Again I am sorry for your loss.

Hi K.,
I am so sorry for your loss.

Some funeral homes do have a room where the children can go play. You can look into that. Maybe you and another relative can take turns staying w/ your daughter.

I would bring snacks for her and any quiet toys that she usually loves. My kids really like the travel magna doodles. They're small, quiet and entertaining if she can draw a little or you could draw some cute pictures.

Try putting everything in a little bag and she can take one thing out at a time. Maybe add a new little something that would be interesting to her; pictures, doll, book, finger puppet.
I'm sure your relatives would love to help out w/ her. Especially since she will bring some joy to them at such a sad time.
Hope this helps. Good Luck

I'm sorry for your loss. I have a 2yo and she would not be able to sit quietly through a service. If your daughter is not high strung (mine is) you may be able to make it through with some board books and coloring books.

However, before you take her decide on how she will react to the casket, expecially if it is open. My daughter, Isabella would want to touch and ask a million and 1 questions. Also if people are crying and upset how will that affect her. Isabella would be upset because others were. She would tell me "sad, mama, sad" and "happen?" I would not take my daughter to the funeral but would to the gathering after but that is just my opion. You know your child and will know how she will react. You said that you work full time so is there someone who would have her during the week. Day care, babysitter or someone. Maybe you could ask a favor under the circumstances (payed of course). Just try to look at a funeral from a 2yos mind before you decide if she should go. Being supportive of your husband and watching out for the best for your daughter is a juggling act but your husband should be included in the decision and given pros and cons and why you feel what you do. He is grieving but he will want his daughter to be ok too. A.

I am so sorry to hear about your loss :(

My father passed away almost two years ago, my oldest DD was almost 3 and my youngest was not quiet 1. We took them with us to the funeral as well as my nephew who was almost 4. It was a nice distraction for everyone to see the kids. I would take her with you.

I am so sorry about your loss. I just returned from my Grandmothers funeral out of state. I have 3 kids my oldest is 12 and had the choice to go but choose not to. But since he stayed home so did my husband which meant that I had to take the other 2. My middles son is 7 and his sister is 4. They knew why we were going and asked questions almost the whole 5hr drive down. While we were there the funeral home has many rooms and my son decided that he would stay in the lounge and the back room. They had a T.V in there and he watched movies and colored and there was enough people that he knew that would come in and talk with him. My daughter on the other hand was all over the place and talked to people she has never met like they lived next door all her life. For the most part your family should help you out and if things get too rough then just walk out side and take a break with her. But I feel you need to explain life and death to the kids in a way they will kind of understand and if you ask the director they usually have books and things for you to read to them to help. I am sure that someone will help you out while you are there. And yes don't forget the back pack full of things to do. The rest of the family should understand that things like this can be tough and sometimes you have to do things that are just uncomfortable for all but if you don't want to be left out then you shouldn't let it bother you. Just take things as they come and it will all be alright. I hope this helps you out a little and once again I am so sorry for your loss.
S. F.
P.S. Remember this-- We as adults still don't understand life and death so don't expect the little ones too. Thank God it doesn't happen everyday.

My daughter was 4 when my mom died. I brought a small back pack and filled it with crayons, coloring book, stickers and snacks. Also brought a small box of legos and my small dvd player. I put the dvd player on in the back of the room with a video that my kids loved. They used the ear phones.. so noone was bothered. it worked out wonderful and people understand that a kid needs to be entertained.

I'm so sorry. I just took my 9 month old son to a memorial service, and it's a challenge. I decided to not feel guilty at all about having him there, and just sit near the back of the church so I could get him out of there quickly if needed.

Of course, I had to do that very thing after about 5 minutes. But it was no big deal, and I just took him into the church nursery to play until the service was over. Nobody felt disrespected- quite the opposite, in fact!

If there is no nursery, or the service is not at a church, I would simply pack a bag of cool toys and snacks. Then quickly take your daughter out of the service once she gets itchy, and play with her in another room. There will definitely be a quiet area available. Just ask somebody who works or volunteers there! And be ready for your daughter to get fussy, even quicker than you'd expect. All that emotional energy is a lot for grown ups to deal with, so it's even harder for little ones!

Again, I'm so sorry. Try to find some time for yourself, too- ok?

So sorry for your loss. My grandmother passed away when my son was almost two. We took him the the calling hours (we had a memorial service a few months later) and he was fine. He wasn't old enough to really know what was going on (although he said good night to her which about sent my mother over the edge) and everyone really enjoyed seeing him. He ended up being the comic relief and really lightened up the whole affair. Good luck.

I brought my 18 month old to a funeral. It wasn't as terrible as I thought it might be. Although a 2 year old is probably more inquisitive. I suggest you bring coloring books, board books, and/or you can bring a string of yarn and some cheerios/fruit loops she can string cheerios and snack at the same time. Just be consciencious and clean up the cheerios before you leave. Take her out of the funeral home as much as you can for walks and fresh air.

Be prepared to answer odd questions about why everyone is crying, why everyone is wearing black, why it smells (like flowers), and of course, why do people die, am I going to die, are you going to die, etc. Or (if you're lucky) she might not ask anything.

I'm sorry for your loss. I wish you and your family peace during this tough time.

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