30 answers

Need Advice on Whether to Take My 21 Month Old to a Funeral??

My husbands grandmother just passed away and the funeral is this weekend. I am wondering if it is appropriate to take our 21 month old to the funeral. If the funeral was local then we could just stop in and leave if we needed to but it is in another state. I am most concerned with him disturbing the funeral. Has anyone take a child this age to a funeral? Would appreciate any advice you could give me.

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I am sorry for the loss...when my daughter was about that age (maybe a bit older) my grandfather passed and he adored her to no end. He had Alzehimers and couldn't (wouldn't) remember his sons but he remembered "his girl" lol ...anyway, I talked to my grandmother and I had a sitter for the actual funeral but afterwards at the house she was front and center and my grandmother wouldn't have had it any other way. I did take her to the visitation but her daddy left early with her b/c it was getting late and she was tired. My grandmother said having her there was a positive as everyone got to see "his girl" and she brought him happiness. If I had taken her to the funeral I would have sat to the side so that if she wandered to other graves/people I would be right there at her side looking at the pretty flowers.

2 moms found this helpful

I took my little one to a family funeral. I sat with the family, but on the end for in case I needed to make a quick retreat. He slept through most of it. For the time he was awake, I think he provided a nice diversion for the family.

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I personally wouldn 't take him , they are so loud and into everything at that age (as they should be) and do not understand that they need to sit still and be quiet. I took my son to a funeral (my grandmother's) when he was 2 weeks old and he slept through the whole thing. My 22 month old now , I would not take her.

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I disagree. But my family would be offended if I didn't bring my child. A funeral is not just about sadness it's also about celebrating the person's life. At my great-aunt's funeral my son was 22 months and one of our best memories was of him and his cousins playing ring-around-the-rosie with my Grandmother (sister of the deceased) after (my great-aunt would have loved this). I think it is a decision you will have to make based on what you know of his family. Most of the family funerals I have been to have had some sort of child care for family. Maybe you could discuss it with your in-laws. Will there be any type of reception after? Perhaps your husband could go to the funeral service alone and then you and your son could join the rest of the family after. I don't think that it is a matter of appropriateness or not. Sit near the back and bring snacks and favorite quiet distractions if you feel like you should be there. HTH. The last funeral I attended (for my grandfather) I didn't bring my children and everyone else did and people kept asking where they were. It really depends on the family!

4 moms found this helpful

I am sorry for the loss...when my daughter was about that age (maybe a bit older) my grandfather passed and he adored her to no end. He had Alzehimers and couldn't (wouldn't) remember his sons but he remembered "his girl" lol ...anyway, I talked to my grandmother and I had a sitter for the actual funeral but afterwards at the house she was front and center and my grandmother wouldn't have had it any other way. I did take her to the visitation but her daddy left early with her b/c it was getting late and she was tired. My grandmother said having her there was a positive as everyone got to see "his girl" and she brought him happiness. If I had taken her to the funeral I would have sat to the side so that if she wandered to other graves/people I would be right there at her side looking at the pretty flowers.

2 moms found this helpful

Out of respect for the other people there to remember his grandmother, I wouldn't bring bring him. Even if you were able to step outside if he gets fussy or unruly, by then it's ALREADY too late. Funerals are for people who loved and cared about the deceased to remember and pray and mourn. A 21 month old can't do any of those things... so why would he be there?

That's just my opinion, of course.

T.

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I am so sorry for your loss. I would say take her. Last May my BIL was taken from us at the young age of 21. We had to travel a few states away for the funeral/ memorial. At the time our children were 4yrs and 23 mo's of age. We were pretty much the only ones in from out of state, but weren't the only ones to bring our little ones. (My other BIL had his two little ones there, etc) Surpisingly the children were all extremely well behaved. Our son (23 mo old didn't have much of a clue what was going on) There was only one time when he got a bit noisey & he was sitting on my FIL's lap at the time. Tears started rolling down FIL's face and my DS gave him a kiss and quite loudly said "it be ok, I love you Papa". It actually lightened the mood for most of us. Several people started to kind of giggle, but knowing my BIL he would have loved it. They did not have an open casket for my BIL, but if they would have... I don't know that I would have allowed the children to view it. Oh, not that you will be expected to, but during the viewing hours my husband was expected to stand in the "receiving line". He of course wanted us to be there with him. The children got a bit restless during this, but I was able to sneak out with them for a little while. We also had several extended family members who were more than happy to help out with them. So I guess my point is.... I think it will be fine to take him, worst possible scenario would be that you have to walk out of the room or away from the crowd for a little bit.

2 moms found this helpful

My grandpa died when my son was about that age and just before he died he moved out of state. I went to his funeral and took my son with him. I had to take him out during the speaking part of the funeral because he got antsy, but they did not close the doors so I could keep him in the foyer and still hear the service. Then we went out to the grave side and they had the 21 gun solute and a mini service there. I did not have any problems with him, and all my family that was there appreciated that I took him.

1 mom found this helpful

when we went to my step sons funeral we took our then 20 month old mostly for the surviving brothers sake. the church found a day care for us who watched him free of charge during the funeral. then we went to one 3 months later and also found a babysitter for the funeral. I say take him but find a babysitter for the actual funeral. funeral homes and especially churches can help you with that. I would advise calling the preacher doing the funeral and asking him for help there are a ton of elderly wemon who would love to do it and cant babysit more than a couple of hours. which would be perfect.

I would also highly advise to take him to the dinner afterwards. at my step sons funeral all of the teenage kids needed him. they played with him and it gave them something to distract themselves off of the sadness of 2 teens dying in a carwreck. The older peoples theroy was its a joy to see life after a death. someone at the age they didnt know what was going on and didnt care. He was the best things that happened to all of the teenagers at the dinner.

1 mom found this helpful

I took my young son to a funeral. I made sure to stay near the back in case he became too restless. At a time when death is prevalant, it can be healing to have children around to ingnite the joys of life. We had many people coming to us to just be around our son. He made them smile and even gave out a few hugs.

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Hi, I had similar situation when my dad died about 15 hrs away. My son was 3 at the time and we had other small children in the family as well. My nephew had 2 small children. My mother's church arranged for a babysitter to come in during the viewing and during the funeral. My son was with me when my father passed and I had him said good bye. I believe this all has to do with individual personal choices.
I do not think you need to let your husband go alone.This is a grandparent and you can find a good babysitter through a family friend or church that will help you out. You need to be there for support and respect. If it where a job or other reason then maybe stay behind but not because of child. There are many great helpers out there during your families time of grieve. Wishing your family my prayers in their loss.

1 mom found this helpful

I would agree with those who said to take your child. I also agree that you should just sit in a seat that would allow you to leave the room quickly and quietly if necessary.

This is your family. I don't think it is a big deal. You do the things you need/want to do with your family and are always prepared to deal with behavior/other interruptions as they come up....whether you are at a funeral, wedding, party, dinner, vacation, or just at home...

1 mom found this helpful

My 7yo has been to many funerals in his lifetime (the first at around 18 months, the most recent was last year).

Typically we bring him to every "wake", and it's 50/50 on the funeral... really it depends on the type and length of the service.

He's seen bodies, shrouds, closed caskets, and urns. He's brushed the bangs back and kissed the foreheads of his best friend (age 4, brain cancer) and his great grandmother... or just patted a casket/ waved at an urn. We're a "celebrate life" kind of family, so maybe that's why... but death doesn't scare him. He's seen it his whole life (sanitized, not warzone), and in our fam we ALWAYS ALWAYS have wakes, which is a giant party celebrating that person and their lives. He's never had nightmares about any of these events...

Best tip: Plan for the worst. The absolute worst behavior or crisis possible. Sit in the back row (aka easy escape), bring drinks/snacks. diapers, change of clothes. Do all of that outside. Ideally right before and right after the service.

1 mom found this helpful

I took my son (14 months at that time) with me to my best friend's dad funeral (in a Catholic church) and just came prepared with quiet books and snacks (I might mention that my son is normally a pretty quiet kiddo though)...My son did great until the snacks ran out and then got a little restless...so we just went and stood in back with the doors closed until the funeral was over, but then he had an area to run around in and play without disturbing others. There were a couple of ushers back there who helped keep an eye on him and entertain him so I could listen at the door. Basically, my friend was just so thankful that I even showed up, she didn't mind that I had to step out as long as I was there to give her a big hug at the end. I think holding my son helped her too. At the dinner following, lots of people came up and (I guess because I had such an apologetic look on my face when I was exiting the church) reassured me that he was not a problem making his one squeak in the service (that's all it took before I swept him out the door) and they were glad to have him there and see him. I guess it needs to be situational. If someone was mourning a child loss, I would be less likely to bring my kids (or I would ask someone close to the family their opinion on whether it would distract from the ceremony) only because I remember how hard it was seeing pregnant women and tiny babies after my miscarriage. If it was a family thing, I wouldn't think twice about not bringing them because my family would be MORE devastated if they weren't there! But like several others who have written, to me a funeral is a celebration of life and what greater remembrance of life than seeing a child!

1 mom found this helpful

Absolutely take your child but be prepared to get up and leave if he isn't cooperating. My grandmother died when my daughter was about that age and I took her to the funeral (at the time I lived in Tennessee and the funeral was in Maine so the travel made it impossible to go without her). Her father and I worked out ahead of time that he was to take her outside to play if she got restless. She did get restless and they went outside and had a ball while I stayed and paid my respects. After the funeral people actually came and told me that they appreciated my removing her but that she wasn't bothering anyone and that she could have stayed. I did not take her anywhere near the body, of course. Go with a backup plan and you will be fine. Good luck with your decision!

1 mom found this helpful

My grandmother passed away at the beginning of March. We traveled back home (2 states away). We took our 26 month old daughter and a few other of my relatives brought their children.

My siblings and I all talked about whether to bring the kids or not. We decided that if the children were younger than 3 or older than 6 (depending on the child and how we thought it would affect them) it would be okay because they wouldn't be traumatized by it.

We also talked about the fact that it was for our grandmother who lived a long life of 96. The funeral wasn't as emotional because she was older. Had it been a funeral for someone much younger or due to an accident, etc. we may have kept the kids home.

Having the kids there actually helped everyone deal with the sad occasion by reminding everyone of the life cycle and giving everyone something positive to talk about (and how Grandma loved to talk about her visits with them and how some of the kids looked like other family members, etc.)

We were very glad that we took our daughter. There was a family dinner at the church afterward and it gave some of my extended family the opportunity to visit with all of us (and with my daughter for the first time).

If you decide not to take your child to the showing or funeral, try to make arrangements with someone local and have them bring (or you pick up your child) for the family dinner.

My condolences to your family.

1 mom found this helpful

I'm sorry for your loss. Its not easy with a little one but it can be done. Our son had just turned 1 yr when my mother in law passed away. He spent time with us/her in the hospital for the 3 weeks prior. He did rather well considering. We couldn't sit in the back and our friends that were there to support us had little ones of their own and couldn't take him. He sat in the front row with us and when he got fussy we would pass him to the next person. My mom, dad, sister, and my dads girlfriend were all there for us and kept him occupied. Bring quiet things to occupy him with like stuffed animals, books, juice, etc. At 21 months old he will be more aware of what is going on so he might ask questions. Our son being 12 months checked everything out but couldn't ask questions yet. I will say that at 3 1/2 yrs now he does remember her a little. He recognizes her in pictures and he is friendly and walks up to anyone in a wheelchair. She was in a wheelchair. I would take him and ask family for help while there, I wish you the best.

1 mom found this helpful

I'd take him. We took our then 13 month old to my husband's grandfather's funeral and it went fine. When she was done sitting I just took her to the back or into the foyer of the church so she wouldn't be disruptive. I made sure that I took her, so my husband could stay and hear everything. And afterwards during the luncheon she was a great distraction from the sad event. Its a nice reminder to others to see how the legacy of the deceased is still living on in our small children.

1 mom found this helpful

I always bring my kids to funerals no matter what age. Granted I sometimes spend the whole time in the lobby but the important thing is that you are there for those who have lost and for you to have time to mourn the loss. Now if you are far to close or upset with the whole death then you might want to have someone not as close help you out.

I would see what your husband wants since it is his grandma.

1 mom found this helpful

I took my 2 yo to my moms aunts funeral. He did fine most of the time. We did have to go and sit at the back of the church towards the end, but most of the time he was a great boy.

1 mom found this helpful

I also believe it depends on your husbands family. My oldest son was right around 2 when my husbands grandfather passed away and our youngest was still a wish. Because it is a 10 hour drive we didn't have any choice to take him and there was never really any thought that he wouldn't attend the visitation and funeral. We didn't force him to do anything he didn't want to and I did shield him from a few things. I sat near the back with him and brought quiet things for him to do. But, because their family is large and spread out so far, it is like a reunion. Catching up, getting know the kids, etc. We would have been in the dog house it we would have left him home. We did the same thing when his grandmother passed away. Our oldest son was 3.5 by then and our youngest about 2 months. Again, we didn't force him to do anything he didn't want to. We sat with the family this time and it was fine right up until my oldest had to use the potty. Of course the side aisle was blocked so we had to march down the middle during the service. Is still kind of a joke because a few of the extended family that didn't attend knew about it before the funeral was even over. Gotta love cell phones!
Anywho, do what feels right within your husbands family. There is no right or wrong answer. I am sorry for your loss, be safe and God bless.

1 mom found this helpful

We have always taken our children to funerals. I guess it is a cultural thing.

If they are young and active, usually those families tend to sit at the back so they can go outside and the kids can run around outside..

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My niece was 18 months when she attended my grandmother's funeral. There was never any thought of her not attending. She behaved really well, with a little bit of flirting and shifting throughout...and we all sat in the front. She even yelled out my name for the first time, and my husband's. She was a bit of sunshine in a sad day. When she got bored during the condolences at the end of the service, I galloped around with her and chased her down the aisles. I think we were all happy that she was there.

1 mom found this helpful

I took my little one to a family funeral. I sat with the family, but on the end for in case I needed to make a quick retreat. He slept through most of it. For the time he was awake, I think he provided a nice diversion for the family.

1 mom found this helpful

I obviously don't know what you are used to, but it seems to me that a funeral wouldn't be any different than going to church. We take toys and snacks and books. Sit in the back at the end of a row so you can make a quick and quiet escape if he starts to be too loud.

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My personal opinion is that you should NOT take him. It's not fair to make your son try to sit and be quiet through the service when he does not understand what is happening. It's also not fair to others who are mourning the loss of a loved one to be disturbed during the ceremony. Let hubby go to the funeral by himself and you stay home, his family will understand.

I brang my son to a funreal, he did well and did not distrupt the ceremony. But if at church they usually have a nursery, that you can go into with a fussy baby.

So much depends on the formality and culture of your family, but in general I would say not to bring him to the funeral or interment. If there are wakes, brunches, other get-togethers where children can be a comfort to other grieving family members, those are good opportunities to bring him, but if it's something where people are speaking and others are listening, toddlers can be distracting and disruptive. Moreover, he might find it upsetting or boring or both. The odds of it all working out well are low. Maybe if there are a bunch of cousins you could all pool for a sitter for a few hours in a hotel room somewhere.

If there's any way to avoid taking him -I would avoid it. I've had several funeral issues while my children are young, but they've all been local. I know last year for my mother's funeral, it was great to have the kids at the meal afterward, but I couldn't handle them at the service. I also know my oldest would have been extremely confused and upset. ANYWAY -we may be facing this situation -having to go out of town -ourselves soon, and I think for the service I will keep my 19month old outside, or I'll sit in the last pew by the door, and if he makes a noise I'll leave and take him outside until it's over. You can always do that.

I would see no reason for a child that young to be at a funeral. Not only would they be disruptive, but it is a very sad thing to expose an toddler too. I would take him to the after gathering if there is one, but not to the wake itself.

I would have to say no. At my son's funeral, I was worried about people bringing their kids because I knew it would anger me. If you do bring your child, please don't let him/her see the body. My son was 3 and a lady from our daycare brought her young daughter and MADE her say goodbye to my son and look at him. She was terrified and I later found out that she was having nightmares about him.

I'm sure it would disturb him way more if you leave him behind! Just tell him that so and so left his body, and many people are sad about that. He'll probably think about it for a second, and then go back to whatever he was doing. A funeral doesn't mean the same thing to a small child as it does to everyone else. And, besides, if you need to leave and go outside with him, that's ok. Everyone will understand, and you are still showing your support.

I personally wouldn 't take him , they are so loud and into everything at that age (as they should be) and do not understand that they need to sit still and be quiet. I took my son to a funeral (my grandmother's) when he was 2 weeks old and he slept through the whole thing. My 22 month old now , I would not take her.

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