18 answers

Should I Let My 9 Yr Old Son Go to His Great-grandmother's Funeral??

My husband's grandmother is very ill with cancer and other problems. She is not expected to live much longer. My question is do I let my 9 year old son go to the funeral once she passes?? We haven't really talked to him about it yet, but he knows that she is very sick and will soon die and I expect he will ask if he can go to the funeral. Any advice is appreciated.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I haven't had to face this yet with my own kids, but I think I'd let him go. Especially if he wants to. I'd just tell him beforehand what it's all about, what to expect, etc.

1 mom found this helpful

only if he wants to, he knows when he's ready. No sense in protecting him from fears of he's not scared. What harm can it do?
I saw my grandfather die when I was about his age, it really had no effect on me, if I was scared I would have left. In a way, a funeral is like saying goodbye, I think.
-N.

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I think at 9 he's more aware of this process than you may think he is. Even though he is a child he has the right to mourn her passing. Depending on wether or not he was close with her you should make him feel confortable about expressing his feelings.I understand that your concerned for his feelings...but death is apart of life and unless he was extremely close with her as he would be with yourself, his father or his grandparents then you should not be deeply concerned.

1 mom found this helpful

I haven't had to face this yet with my own kids, but I think I'd let him go. Especially if he wants to. I'd just tell him beforehand what it's all about, what to expect, etc.

1 mom found this helpful

My grandmother passed away recently and I didn't take my kids to the funeral, but there was a service afterward and my 5 year old son REALLY appreciated going it to it. He knew enough about what was going on and he wanted to help. He felt very important that he got to pray for her.

At 9, if your son wants to go, I think it's be a shame to prevent him from doing so. Yes, there will be a lot of sadness around him, and that's tough to see. But it's also good for him to see if he's feeling a whole lot of sadness himself. It will be good for him to see how much his great grandfather meant to others.

1 mom found this helpful

There are a lot of factors that could influence your decision. Is your child extremley sensitive? Is he very hyperactive? Is your four year old going to pitch a fit becuase big brother goes and he doesn't? It really depends on how mature your son is. My great-grandmother died when I was around twelve and I wasn't taken to the funeral. I was also a very sensitive child and I would cry for days when a fish died! If you do take him tell him that a funeral is a way for the person's family to say goodbye and to support each other. It's also a celebration of a beautiful life. Explain that it will be happy and sad at the same time. Tell him that it's okay to smile or laugh if he remembers something fun or funny about his grandma. I'm sorry that this is even an issue. It's not fun to lose someone you love. I'll be praying for you and your family.
H.

H.,

Thankfully we have not had to cross that bridge yet with our kids but this is the advice I suggest. Talk to your son about her illness and her eventual passing. Ask him what he thinks he would like to do. Discuss what he percieves happens at a funeral and what actually does happen. Do you know what her wishes are? Will there be a casket...will it be open? Is it just a memorial service? Do the plans include attending a service at graveside. I'm a therapist so I tuly believe talking about it and preparation ahead of time is the key. This may happen over a number of conversations. He might not be ready to talk at length about it at 1st. Open the door and let him know you're willing to discuss it. Death is often a taboo subject because it makes people sad and cry. He could just have a natural 9 yr.old curiosity about funerals and death in general. Be prepared, if it hasn't happened already, to discuss the biology of death. I find 9 yr. old boys tend to be very concrete and scientific about things, i.e. what happens to the body. They tend to get the facts out of the way before they talk about the emotional side of things. I will usually engage a child in something that is interesting to him so he feels relaxed enough to discuss difficult subjects, i.e. shoot baskets, play a card game, etc. If the subject gets too sensative he has a distraction that will allow him to refocus before it gets too tough.

While her passing is very sad, it is a part of life. You have the opportunity to really talk about life stages and how people impact our lives.

Please know that what ever he, and you and your husband, decides he may change his mind at he last minute. The curiosity factor may be what he has right now but as the sevices draw near the reality of what will happen may be too much for him. I have some adult friends that have told me they were taken to a funeral when they were younger because an adult thought it was a way for them to have closure. Your son will let you know what he needs. Respect & trust his judgement. Have a back up plan if he decides not to go.

Good luck and best wishes during this difficult time.

First, I am sorry about your soon to be loss. yes. your son will want to feel that he is part of the famiy experience, including death. My grandmother died when I was close to your son's age and it would have made me feel as though I didn't "count" if I was told not to go. One thing I was very confused about, however, was the wake. I remember people were laughing and acting more like we were at a social gathering and I thought everyone should be crying. I thought that it was disrespectful until someone told me it was okay to laugh and share stories of the recently deceased, and to be happy to have the oppurtunity to see relatives that have been long missed. Unless he does not want to, I would strongly recommend letting him experience and learn more about life cycles, it tends to bring families closer together.

my question is this how close was he to her if he was close yuo should not keep him away from that part of her life .because of you do ther is a goo chance that he will be angry with you for not letting him say goodbye, and saying good bye dosent mean at her bed .and if they wernt really that close than maybe just talk to hom about her passing but most important of all talk to your 9 yr old and see how he feels yes even 9 year olds have feelings . hope this helps good luck and god bless our prayers are with you in georgia

First, let me extend my condolences for the grief your family is already experiencing. When a family deals with terminal illness, grief doesn't magically start on the day a loved one dies. It begins the day of diagnosis.

I think you should take your son to the funeral. When my mother died three years ago, my sisters sons were 5 and 3. The 5-year-old had been very close to his only grandma. He knew she was very sick, and we (including my mom) had talked to him many times about the fact that soon Grandma would be going to heaven and that he would no longer be able to see her every day. Being at the funeral allowed him to say a formal "good-bye." As he stared at her picture (closed casket due to the ravages of cancer), he said, "Grandma is in heaven now, right? Can she still see me?" He just wanted to know that Grandma was OK and that she still loved him. My sister really agonized over how much and what to say to the boys and whether or not they should go to the funeral. In the end, she decided that she can't shelter them from everything in life. They have to learn that death is a very natural and unavoidable part of life.

The grief counselors at Hospice told us that when kids aren't given information, they tend to fill in the blanks with their worst imaginings. You need to give him information so that he won't be unnecessarily frightened. For example, when I had a sinus infection shortly after Mom died, my older nephew was afraid that I would die from my illness. We had to help him understand the difference between a minor illness and a terminal one. The key for my nephews was to know that they and their loved ones are safe and healthy. Sometimes my older nephew calls me just to make sure that his aunt and uncle are OK. Your son's primary concern might be very different. Just LISTEN to him and answer his questions honestly and simply. Give him the informatio he needs, but don't give him so much information that he's more frightened than before. Talking to one of the grief counselors at Gwinnett County Hospice might help you figure out how to help him through.

My sisters and I still talk openly with my nephews about Mom. We do it partly for their benefit so that they will feel free to express their own feelings, but we also do it so they will never forget her. I only wish that my own son born in October could have known his Grandma.

Your family will be in my prayers.

C.

I think a 9-year-old is going to be okay going to a funeral. I believe that at some point we all must learn to say goodbye to the ones we love. Children are so much wiser these days and I think it would be good that all of you sit as a family and go over memories of his great-grandmother when she was healthier. That way he can think of those things during and agter the funeral.

My seven year olds Great Grandfather passed away and we thought that it would be a good idea to let him know the feeling of losing someone you love and how to keep moving on. It took it really good. We told him that it is okay to cry when you see him lying there and that he is going to a better place that he will be much happy. I told him now he always has someone to look down over him and always watch him. I hope that this helped some.

When my older children were your son's age I let them decide whether or not to attend. Then at the funeral home and funeral I let them decide if they wanted to do things such as go up to the casket, etc. I never made an issue of it as to whether they should or shouldn't. They went at their own pace and it has never been a major issue. I believed if I prevented them from going at that age it would make them feel even more afraid and nervous because I was shielding them from it. It's a fact of life that death occurs and letting them go and at their own pace I believe helps them as well as you. If you forbid it he may think, Mom is keeping me away because it's bad or scary. And while it is a very emotional, sad, and sometimes scary for kids, if they see that you are there for them and no one is pushing them to do something they don't want to do, they will adjust well.

My son was 6 when his greatgrandmother passed away. He knew his greatgrandmother and enjoyed being around her, but when she died I had to explain to him that greatgrandmother was in heaven and she wasn't feeling pain anymore like she used to. I told him it was ok to cry because we miss her, but her soul is in a better place and she will always love him wherever she is. I think at the age of nine, he will be able to grasp it. Let him go to the funeral. I think the longer it takes to deal with death, the harder it will be the older they get. I heard someone who said when her mother died, she was sheltered so much from the death that she never had a healthy grief period. She wished her family would have allowed her to be exposed to her mother's death. She said it felt like she dissapeared as if she didn't exit. That taught me alot about how it is ok to allow children to experience grief just like adults. Eventually we all will encounter someone who will die. It is life's process. Sadness is ok and he will be sad, but it is theraputic for children to express grief in a healthy way. Good luck to you.!

My great grandma passed away on my 6th birthday. I would have been really angry if I had been unable to go. It was a way for me to cope with the grieving process. I still remember stories that I heard about my great grandmother at the visitation and the funeral. Those are stories I may not have heard had I not been there. If he asks to go to the funeral I would sit down and explain what is going to happen and let him go.

My question to you is "why not?"

Death is a part of life. It is normal and natural. If he were to say he didn't want to go, then get a sitter. Otherwise, a funeral is a way for people to have closure, to say goodbye, to connect with family and friends, to celebrate someone's life. He should be a part of it.

S.

only if he wants to, he knows when he's ready. No sense in protecting him from fears of he's not scared. What harm can it do?
I saw my grandfather die when I was about his age, it really had no effect on me, if I was scared I would have left. In a way, a funeral is like saying goodbye, I think.
-N.

If he wants to go, I'd let him. Funerals are a part of life. Plus, he will get to see other family members that you don't seen very often if at all.

i really wouldn't say NO but i would't definetely rule out the possibility of YES. my father passed away almost two years ago, March 2005, and my nephew was 7 going on 8, and he also knew something was wrong when my dad got hospitalized and he didn't see him around the house. he kept asking where he was and why he couldn't see him, my sister was adament of letting him go, though the hospital staff wouldn't let him due to his age, but we slowly started talking to him about his condition once the doctors said my dad didn't have long either. i think it was better because he at least knew he was never going to see his grandfather again and we just told him he was very sick and God *i don't know your denomination* was taking him away so he wouldn't suffer any longer. When he did finally pass, my nephew went to the funeral and he was presented a white dove (which was meant for my mom from the funeral home) and we *my whole family* felt that that was a sweet closure for him.

I RECENTLY LOST MY MOTHER. MY SON IS 4. ACCORDING TO MOST THERAPISTS THEY SAY THAT KIDS UNDER 5 WILL NOT HAVE MEMORY OF EVENTS OR PEOPLE. SO THE 4 YR OLD MAY NOT EVEN REMEMBER THE FUNERAL. I SIMPLY BROKE THE NEWS TO MY SON AND LET HIM DECIDE IF HE WANTED TO COME TO THE CEREMONIES. HE WAS EXTREMELY CLOSE TO MY MOTHER. MY CHURCH'S THERAPIST SAID TO NOT PRESSURE THE CHILD. LET THEM DECIDE TO GO. I HAVE A NANNY THAT KEEPS THE KIDS DURING THE DAY. THE NANNY CAME THAT NIGHT TO THE WAKE AND SINCE THE KIDS DECIDED THEY DIDN'T WANT TO GO IN, SHE TOOK THEM DRIVING AND THEN TO MCDONALD'S. AFTER A WHILE, THEY ASKED TO GO SEE US. SHE TOLD THEM THAT IF THEY WENT THAT PEOPLE MAY BE IN THERE SAD OR EVEN CRYING. THEY CAME IN AND WERE UNEFFECTED BY IT. (NOW I WILL TELL YOU THAT MY FATHER AND I ARE PARTICULARLY STOIC SO MY CHILDREN DIDN'T SEE ME BREAKING DOWN.) THE NEXT DAY DURING THE ACTUAL SERVICE THE NANNY KEPT THEM OUTSIDE FOR A LITTLE BIT AND THEN MY SON ASKED TO COME IN. SHE TOLD THEM THAT EVERYONE WAS INSIDE SAYING GOODBYE TO GRANDMA. HE CAME AND SAT WITH US. HE WAS UNEFFECTED BY IT. MY BIGGEST SUGGESTION. 1. LET THEM MAKE THE DECISION. 2. HAVE SOMEONE THAT MAYBE COULD RUN INTERFENCE AND TAKE THEM AWAY IF THEY WANT TO GO ALLOWING YOU TO STAY.

BY THE WAY, SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS OR THE IMPENDING LOSS.

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