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.

Featured Answers

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.

More Answers

"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

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