27 answers

Taking Children to Funeral?

My husband's uncle died. The viewing and funeral are this weekend (the viewing is 4 hours, I am not sure how long the funeral will be). We have a 3 year old and a 9 month old. I asked my husband if he wanted all of us to go or if he wanted to keep the girls home. If we go we will obviously have to tell the 3 year old what is happening, otherwise she will probably just want to play with the other kids and she will probably yell at the top of her lungs 'what's wrong with him? why is he sleeping? is he going to wake up?' etc. Actually, I think she will do this anyway. The deceased isn't someone she was close to and, as my husband put it, she won't even know anything happened if we don't tell her. I told husband it was up to him. He said to ask you fine people for your opinions. A little more info: in my family we do a celebration of life thing not a mourning of death thing. I haven't been to a "normal" funeral in well over ten years but this is very much a mourning thing not a wake. We do not believe in heaven/hell so we can't simply say uncle went to heaven or is in a better place. Our daughter has had a fish die and she understands that living things stop breathing and can no longer be with us but this is a human not a fish. Do we go to the funeral and try to explain death to a three year old and get her and the baby to behave for an extended period of time or do I stay home with the girls (we have no babysitter and cannot get one)? Also, please agree with me (yeah I know people hate when others ask for agreement but I don't think anyone will disagree) that my husband cannot wear jeans and a hoodie to the funeral....uncle wouldn't care at all but funerals are for the living and I just think it would be disrespectful. He will wear something a bit more formal if I have to throw him in the baby's crib and dress him myself. Anyway, thanks for the opinions on taking the girls or staying home. P.S. My family wouldn't expect children of such a young age to be brought to a funeral but we aren't exactly the average American family so I don't really know what is expected or accepted from husband's side (nor does he...he's been to one funeral when he was 10 or so). Thanks!

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So What Happened?™

Thanks everyone! We all went to the viewing and hubs went to the actual funeral (wearing dress pants and shirt). We timed it about right because we were bundling up the kids for me to take them home when the 3 year old started having a meltdown. Thanks again.

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I would leave them home, and try really hard to find a sitter so you can attend, or at least another family member who is willing to trade off kid watching or something so you can at least go to a portion.

And yes, jeans and a hoodie, not okay. Maybe, compromise with what he wears, NICE dark jeans or slacks (he can get some cheap) and a nice polo or button up shirt. People are more casual these days, even at funerals.

3 moms found this helpful

Get a babysitter and go to the funeral without the kids. One of my first childhood memories is standing next to my mom at her moms funeral. It was confusing and quite scary. It was just a graveside ceremony but it was boring and I did not care one little bit that grandma was gone. The kids have no need of that experience. My dad was born in 1917 and was the next to the youngest of 14 kids. My oldest Uncle was born in the 1890's. My oldest cousin was born in 1922, I went to lots of funerals by the time I was out of elementary school. When the kids are older then they can decide if they want to go then.

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"We are Family" is our mantra, our motto. It is the words we live by.

Whether it is a birthday celebration, an anniversary, a wedding, a random BBQ, or a funeral......we are family. We are there to support & love one another. We gather to be together. To uphold each other, to argue, to fight, to love.....it is what we live for. I am proud to say that both of my sons & my sister's children all fully believe this, too. & I can say the same for my in-laws & their children......& for the extended family on both sides. It is simply "our way" of life.

Not attending funerals was never an option for the children in our family. We have always accepted death as a part of life. Grief can be overwhelming & scary.....if you allow it to be. By being honest, open, & upfront with your children....you can prepare them to be functioning adults. To this day, one of my oldest friends still regrets that she refused to allow her children to attend any of their family funerals. Her children are 23 & 27, & are still unable to walk into a funeral home without absolutely freaking.

I think, as parents, one of our biggest failings is in "thinking too much" on various subjects. By agonizing over life choices, we paralyze ourselves with TMI & the fear of the unknown. Giving yourself up to faith & trust provides for our needs.......

5 moms found this helpful

I would have the kids stay home - find a sitter or someone from your side of the family to stay with them. Like you said, it's not like it was someone your 3 yo really knew, and at that age, it can be hard for them to understand how they are supposed to behave.

My mother passed away this past summer after a battle with leukemia - she had been in hospice care the last 5 months of her life and her passing was a blessing, so as sad as it was, it wasn't like this huge shock. My daughter had just turned 3 and we had a day and a half of visitation, then a Catholic funeral mass. We had our DD at the funeral home for a few hours on each of the visitation days and many of my mother's friends and our family members enjoyed seeing her there. She really did not seem to notice or ask questions about Nana in the casket. While she did do a fair amount of laughing and running around, she wasn't really disruptive in any way and we did not keep her there all day either. It actually kind of added a little bit of happiness to an otherwise somber occasion - a kind of reminder of how life goes on and we cannot dwell too much on sorrow. When she was not there, many people who came to visit wondered where she was and said they were actually hoping to see her there. We did NOT have her present for the funeral though - I could not expect her to sit still and be perfectly quiet and behave for that amount of time in that kind of setting.

When my father passed away 6 years ago, many of my cousins brought their children who were a little older (6 years up to 9 years old), and they behaved wonderfully, but they were old enough to know what was expected of them and their parents were the type to not allow anything inappropriate. My dad had been in military and I think having the soldiers at the grave site made an impression on them as well, as to how serious it really was.

Bottom line is, it depends on the kids and their ages and how their parents handle them but I would let your 3 year old sit this one out.

And no, your husband should not wear jeans and a hoodie to a funeral - no offense, but that seems really immature and juvenile. It never hurts to wear a suit and tie, or at least some decent dress slacks and a shirt with a collar - this is about showing respect, after all. Even my 16 and 17 year old stepsons had suits, dress shirts and ties for my mom's visitations and funeral.

3 moms found this helpful

I would leave them home, and try really hard to find a sitter so you can attend, or at least another family member who is willing to trade off kid watching or something so you can at least go to a portion.

And yes, jeans and a hoodie, not okay. Maybe, compromise with what he wears, NICE dark jeans or slacks (he can get some cheap) and a nice polo or button up shirt. People are more casual these days, even at funerals.

3 moms found this helpful

I would definitely take them if they were close to the person (i.e., it was their their grandma or uncle) and wanted to have a part in the send off. Three isn't too small to talk about death when it has relevance to them. But, no, this is your husband's uncle -- the children have limited connection to him. You are basically going to the funeral to demonstrate your love for the deceased and your support for his family. Bringing your disinterested three year old and 9 month old will not further this goal. From my experience a 'viewing' is a bit like a reception; you can come and go. The actual services are sit down, maybe 45 mintues to 1.5 hours. You could drop by the viewing early, and hug all the family, then trade off with your husband and let him attend the funeral on his own.

3 moms found this helpful

I would not take girls that young there is really no need and the family should totally understand. If you need to make an appearance walk through say nice things then take the girls home and get your husband later. They are too little and really they dont need to be there bored out of thier skulls for hours. Second NO to the Hoodie, nice pants and nice shirt will do .

3 moms found this helpful

When my grandma died in October of '09, my daughter was 6 months, I took her to the visitation, even though she didn't know what was going on, I still wanted her there. When my grandpa died last month she was 20 months. I took her to the visitation, so she could say Goodbye to her poppa. Everyone was happy I brought her, because in such a sad emotional time, she brought smiles to their faces (although it broke my heart for her to run up to the casket saying 'Poppa, Poppa'. I didn't take her to the actual funeral though, because I knew it was going to be super hard on me already, I didn't need to add to the stress with her there.

But, you said you guys aren't as close, I didn't take my daughter to my uncles funerals (2 died within a month of each other), because we weren't close and she didn't need to be there.

I agree with you, to the actual funeral, your husband shouldn't wear jeans and a hoodie. To the viewing/visitation it doesn't really matter. But to an actual funeral, its a good idea to dress up a little more then you to in your day to day life. When I see people wearing jeans and sweatshirts to actual funerals, I find it a little disrespectful. But, thats just me.

3 moms found this helpful

Since you don't believe in heaven/hell, not an average American family, the baby is not someone she is close to, and this is not the type funeral you're used to, then I would say don't succomb the children to that explanation and so forth unnecessarily, stay home with them and let your husband go alone and honor or pay his last respects to his uncle.

2 moms found this helpful

I am all for being honest with children, but at that age, I agree with Momma L. Leave them at home. Since your daughter had no real emotional bond to the deceased, it seems to me like she has no need for personal closure - the way she might if it was a grandparent or someone she was closer to. It sounds like you have already explained death to her in an appropriate way for her age, so answer any questions she has when you come home, but get a sitter for her.

The baby- your call. It won't matter to him either way. The only thing I would keep in mind is that sadly, funerals are one of the only times ALL the family gets together, and it might actually cheer some people up to see your baby. Sometimes a baby is a nice reminder to people that life goes on.But it all depends on his schedule and if you think he will remain quiet and not get too cranky.

For you husband - he needs to put on a nice suit. We dress up at funerals to show respect at the passing of a life. Is it really worth potentially upsetting the widow or his mother or other family members by wearing jeans just to make some kind of point?

I know his intention would not be to PURPOSELY upset others- but that might very well happen if he wears jeans. He wants to be comforting to other family members, not upsetting him. Time to be a grown up about it - he just isn't 10 anymore.

it sounds to me like you are handling things the proper way. I'm very sorry for your familiy's loss.

2 moms found this helpful

I have lost all 4 of my grandparents and a cousin since my son was born. He (and his younger brother since he was born) have been to all of the funerals. They were family events and my sister and all my cousins had their children there too. My Mom and Aunts have even said it was the children that helped them get through it.
But......it depends on the family. Ask.
Totally agree that jeans and a hoodie aren't quite appropriate. My hubby wore slacks, shirt and tie to all of ours but it was b/c he was a paul bearer.
Maybe he can wear dark jeans and a button shirt?

2 moms found this helpful

Sorry for your loss. Yes he needs to dress nicer then a hoodie and jeans. I have taken my children to funerals for relatives they knew and saw at least once a week I would not take them if they didn't see them often. I also have not taken them to a viewing yet and my oldest is 9.

2 moms found this helpful

find a babysitter the 3 yr old is at nightmare age and the 9 month old will get tired and whiney and you wont want to deal with that on top of greif

1 mom found this helpful

will people that she is close to be there, like grandparents? I know my grandparents, for example, would be really sad if we didnt bring our daughter to something like this. Our family is big and German and Irish, and we take kids everywhere. The older family members, grandparents, great aunts, etc, would be offended if we didnt bring them unless they were sick.

1 mom found this helpful

I think it would be perfectly fine for your hubby to ask the immediate family of the deceased what THEY would be comfortable with. If having young children would make them feel better - I've read other posts where people have told that a young child has made them feel "good" at such a sad time, then go ahead. You could always find out if there is a kid-friendly place nearby so if you have to get her out and keep her occupied.

Your husband just needs to wear a nice shirt and pants - chinos, whatever. Just not jeans, etc. I don't think a suit is necessary if he's not part of the "ceremony".

1 mom found this helpful

I wouldn't take the children. They are both far too young and it will be more of a struggle for you to keep them quiet. I think your husband should attend alone, not in jeans..lol

1 mom found this helpful

Why don't you ask the family how they feel about young children at a funeral? Some people have strong opinions about that, and you can take your cue from what they say. It would certainly be easier to explain Uncle's death to your toddler at home. And if you can "get" a toddler and a baby to behave at a funeral, I'd like to know how you do it!

I do agree about your husband's attire. "Jeans and hoodie" is inappropriate, and may indeed be considered disrespectful by some folks. Consideration for others is the major factor here. On the other hand, he doesn't have to wear a black suit, either. My FIL died last summer and both the family's and the guests' attire for the funeral-home service ranged from "Sunday-best" clothes to shirts and slacks/nice tops and slacks - mostly the latter.

1 mom found this helpful

First, so sorry for your family's loss. I agree with you on the no hoodie and jeans, it's not appropriate. I would not take the kids to the funeral, they don't understand whats going on when they are little and if it is not someone they were close too I would ask myself what the purpose is in them being there. If the answer is just to take them just because then I would leave them with a sitter.

1 mom found this helpful

I was unsettled with any viewings I did as a child. That's about my only piece of input. Glad you're getting some responses. Hope they are helpful and sorry for your loss.

1 mom found this helpful

In my opinion I am against taking a child under about 12 or so to a viewing/funeral. Children don't need to see this unless it is a parent, sibling, grandparent. I went to 2 funerals last Dec for my dad and my fil. For my Dad my kids went because there was no viewing, for my fil there was. My youngest who is 6 went only because the childcare help I have has pets and my daughter has asthma easily triggered by allergies and has been in the hospital several times. We stayed in the back and then we hurried past the casket at the end.

I'm sorry, I don't think little kids and babies are cute in that setting. I go to remember the person and say goodbye young children and babies are distracting and not funny in that setting.

Call me rude I don't care I just don't feel it is not a place for young kids.

Sorry I hope this wasn't offensive. I don't mean to attack you this is just how I feel about this topic.

1 mom found this helpful

First of all no jeans. Don't you have a friend that could watch your
children while you go. I would not take a 3 yo to a funeral unless there
were teenagers that could keep her outside. The baby is oblivous so she
is not a problem. I would probably stay home if I could not get someone
to watch the kids.

1 mom found this helpful

If the funeral is in a church is there a nursery that you could take the kids incase they got restless? I would say if it weren't a close family member and you worry about them being still during it then get a babysitter. If you think grandparents would like them to be there bring quiet toys or coloring book and crayons for them to keep them busy. I do this with my granddaughter for Church and also for funerals, weddings and anything that requires them to be quiet.

My granddaughter went to her first funeral at 11 months old when her maternal grandfather died. It was graveside and when the guy played the bagpipes, when the musician sang and also when they did the 21 gun salute, my granddaughter clapped her hands and yelled "yeah!" Her grandfather was probably looking on just loving it. The hardest one was when my son, her daddy died this summer, she was 3. We took her to the family viewing but I explained what she was going to see before hand. We do believe in Heaven so I explained with a can of pop, telling her that the body is like the can and the soul is like the pop inside. When the pop is gone you still have a can and when the soul is gone to heaven you still have the body and that is what we were going to see. You might explain it as the body quit working after the heart stopped, just like a toy stops working after the batteries run out. Explain that the body will look like he is sleeping and will be cold to the touch. Make sure she knows that he isn't sleeping, because when you sleep your heart is still working or you might have a little girl who will be afraid to go to sleep. I remember when I was 5 and a close friend died. My parents took us to see her and didn't explain to us what we were going to see. I thought the casket looked like a bassenet and thought that they put you in baby beds and such. She also had her hands on her tummy and for years I couldn't go to sleep with my hands on my tummy because I thought that is how people position themselves to die. So if you do take her take time to explain everything she sees and encourage questions which you answer honestly and simply.

After her dad's funeral, my granddaughter and daughter in law went to a funeral of a 100 year old man that my daughter in law knew but granddaughter didn't. Not knowing they had the veiwing right before, my granddaughter (3 years old) went inside while her mom was standing at the door with the grandson of the gentleman. My granddaughter came back out and informed her mom "Mom, there is a guy in there and I am pretty sure he is DEAD!" The grandson loved it and it lightened a sober situation, so don't worry if your daughter says something which you think could be inaproppreate, chances are they will enjoy the distraction.

I took my son to my hubands aunt funeral and we didn't walk around. I preferred to keep him at home. He went to sleep and we sat in the back of the church so he really

My son is 5 now and I will on take him if it's immediate family. He the person wasn't really in his life, I won't insist that he go.

Do what's in your heart.

it is bad.No matter how, just need to feel right to do it, do not control other people, bless you and your family, you will be happy.


My vote is that your hubby go alone in at least kahkis and a collared shirt of some type... Kids that young are just too much at a wake and funeral....unless it is someone they were close to, like their grandma or something, that might be different.

Good luck dressing your husband.


I don't see any problem with taking them. Just simplify the death of the uncle like you did her fish and i'm sure she won't be bothered by it. I was taken to a funeral when I was her age. I acted right like I was told to and I honestly don't even remember it to this day.(didn't have nightmares or scared afterward either.) Onto the husband, maybe he could wear some nice black/tan pants and a polo shirt?

I am for taking the kids to a funeral. They need to know about death. Eventually someone close to all of you is going to die, and if they don't know the logistics of what happens at a funeral, they are going to ask a lot of questions and when you are emotional its harder to answer.

We took our 4 year old to his great-grandma's funeral a couple months ago. We explained that she had died and that we were saying goodbye and it was a sad time. He asked why she died (she was old and sick), if she would be in the ground forever (yeppers), if she wilted (nope, plants only wilt - not humans), etc.

He did wonderfully. It was a main topic for him for a day or so, but no more than a normal topic for him.

As for dressing up, yes - dress nicer. I know at my grandma's funeral we had everything from jeans and t-shirts to full suits, but generally I would think that at least jeans and a sweater are in order.

Get a babysitter and go to the funeral without the kids. One of my first childhood memories is standing next to my mom at her moms funeral. It was confusing and quite scary. It was just a graveside ceremony but it was boring and I did not care one little bit that grandma was gone. The kids have no need of that experience. My dad was born in 1917 and was the next to the youngest of 14 kids. My oldest Uncle was born in the 1890's. My oldest cousin was born in 1922, I went to lots of funerals by the time I was out of elementary school. When the kids are older then they can decide if they want to go then.

I would ask your husband's relatives for input.

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