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Should 6 Year Old Go to the Funeral?

Hi, My friend had a question and i knew who to ask! She is a single mom to 3 kids one almost 7, 2, and 6 weeks. Her dad just passed away, he was a big part of the almost 7 year olds life, and her question is weither or not he should be at the funeral or showing? I am watching the other two but at 7 how much should he be involved? It is going to be open casket, then cremation. Any advice welcome. Just a little back ground her father got sick 6 months ago and went really quick. Thanks Also just to add this: He was told yesterday and explained to where grandpa went. And today asked if he could go see grandpa at the hospital. He also is in the process of being on adhd meds, very hyper active. Thanks

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Thanks for all the advice!! I talked to his mom and they are going early to the family viewing. They will see how he handles that, there will be a friend on stand by to get him out of there if he doesn't do well. Then if he wants to go back for the funeral he will be able to. They have the showing from 4-7 and funeral at 7. Thanks again, I always know who to ask when I or my friends have questions!!

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My first instinct is to say "yes" but the more I think about it, it really depends on how hyper active he is and if he will make the showing and/or funeral more difficult for his Mom. She needs to have the proper venue to grieve so that she can move on and help her own family move on. If he will make the situation more stressful for her then he should stay home. If he will be a welcomed distraction, then he should be allowed to go. I think it's important to celebrate life at all events and he should be allowed to do that, too.

I think that since it's a part of life, children should be included. My family has always included everyone, but I also try to look at more as a celebration of the persons life... if that makes sense. I hope this helps. I am very sorry for the loss.

I think sheltering children from life-cycle events like birth and death just leads to a fear of them. He's definitely old enough to go say goodbye to his grandfather. I think not taking him runs the risk of him thinking Grandpa is still in the hospital and might get better.

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This is a very hard topic and my condolences go to the family. I have lost numerous family members during my children's (son is 16 and daughter is 11) lives, including two of their sisters. When my second born passed away at 23 months my son was only 5 1/2 and my daughter was 3 1/2 months. My son was very close to her but she was sick from birth. We chose to take him to the funeral, my daughter stayed with friends. We felt he needed to be there and explained as best we could that his sister's body was in the casket, she was not sleeping as this can cause many problems for children fearing if they go to sleep they may pass as well. My daughter died at the hospital as well and we all said goodbyes including my son. We chose to tell him that his sissy was now in heaven as an angel and playing with other family members including a great grandfather that passed just a year before. I had many fears during the funeral, thinking he would try to wake her up or pick her up. But after explaining she was not sleeping and that was her sick body laying there, her healthy body was in heaven, he handled it better than I feared. He told her goodbye again and we make regular trips to the cemetery where still to this day he talks to her about everything. I hope this helps a little, but I feel it is best to explain as best you can about death to settle their possible fears and let them say goodbye in their own way. Again my condolences for your lost.

1 mom found this helpful

I think sheltering children from life-cycle events like birth and death just leads to a fear of them. He's definitely old enough to go say goodbye to his grandfather. I think not taking him runs the risk of him thinking Grandpa is still in the hospital and might get better.

Hi T.,
I'm so sorry to hear of your friend's loss ~ difficult time of year! I think it depends on the child. My mother-in-law passed away on Halloween (my husband was trick-or-treating w/ our girls). Anyway, we took our older daughter who just turned 8 on 12/5. It was a similar situation ~ my mother-in-law was sick since the beginning of June. We explained the situation to our daughter & she visited her in the hospital a couple of times. She was fine seeing Grandma in her open casket & OK at the funeral too. Out of all of the kids, my 11 y/o nephew had the hardest time (5 of the 8 grandkids went ~ the oldest is 11 & the youngest is 5). Again, I think it depends on the child.

Yes, he should go. Death is a part of life - children need to be included for funerals. All of my children have always gone to funerals, and I use it as a teaching moment. Yes, it's very sad, but shielding children from it doesn't help them. They need that closure to be able to sort the pieces later on when some time has passed.
I tell my children that the body they see at a wake is like an egg shell. The important part - the soul that was inside - already went to heaven the moment the person died. They don't need their egg shell body anymore, but we like to see it one last time so we can think about the person while we send a prayer of love and good-byes.
I remind them of this simple analogy a couple times a year if they are around when I'm cracking eggs for a recipe. I have them watch as the edible part of the egg stays and the egg shell is discarded. I stress that it's ok that I'm not saving the egg shell because it already served it purpose and now is no longer needed.

Absolutely! My kids are 11 and 9 and have been going to funerals since they were barely walking. Like one of the other responses said, it is a normal part of life. They can learn the proper way to pay their respects, and say goodbye as well. My son was almost 5 when his favorite great-aunt died; they were very close. Her funeral was the first one he really remembers. As with all kids, you can't freak out if their manners aren't adult-like. My son rushed into the funeral home and flew across the room to the casket, then loudly yelled out..it doesn't even look like her! (All the makeup) But he touched her and talked to her for a bit, and then told everyone not to be sad..cause she was in heaven and had her leg back (she'd had a leg amputated due to circulation problems). It really did make everyone feel so much better. He and the other children were also invited to ride to the cemetery in the "limo", which they thought was pretty cool. To this day he still talks about his aunt. And given the opportunity, your friend's son will hold those memories of his grandfather dear...including the funeral.

often times we try to shield children from any type of pain, but in the case of death, I have found it is a good way to help them work through their grief to attend the funeral. when my grandmother died, the kids all went (10, 7, and 6 at the time) and they had an easier time saying goodbye. Its what we do as adults, and do not underestimate children, they are very perceptive, and by not attending, they have no closure and no understanding of why the person has just disappeared from their lives. I would encourage your friend to allow her son to attend and say goodbye to his grandpa, it will be part of the healing process for him.

I would say, yes let him go. My great grandfather died when I was 4. He was a huge part of our lives because he lived with us. He and I would spend hours together watching Sesame Street, having picnics in our yard, going on walks, etc. I still remember when he died (I am 40 now) and I remember that I stayed with the family of my babysitter the day of his funeral. My mom says I have never let her forget that she didn't let me go. My own grandfather died 4 years ago and his entire family came. All my cousins and 26 of his great grandchildren ranging in age from 17 to 8 months old. My grandmother said it was wonderful having everyone who was so dear to him there. We had some volunteers from the church in the nursery to help with the babies but death shouldn't be a scary thing for kids, it's a part of life. At 6 or 7 they are understanding a lot more than we give them credit for. Kids are still people but in the small size variety. If grandpa was important to him, he should be able to say goodbye also. He may not do it like an adult, but at that age, I think it is good for them to be able to attend.

My thoughts:

He should be given time to see/ say goodbye to his grandfather without the hectic stress of a funeral. There should be a time before the showing that she could take him in, just the 2 of them. THen you could watch him with his siblings. That way he gets his time, and your friend doesn't have to stress over him while she is dealing with the showing.

Tell your friend - Sorry for her loss!

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