21 answers

What's an Appropriate Age to Attend a Funeral?

Hi, My name is K. - I am new to Mamasource - but love the concept! My son is 6 years old. His Great-Grandfather passed away this week. My son didnt really know his great-grandfather, they had only met 3 or 4 times. I think my ex-husband is planning to take my son to the funeral. I dont know how much "say" I have in this with my ex-husband, as the funeral is during his visitation. But, has anyone ever been faced with this? Should a 6yr old be going to a funeral? Thanks K.

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So What Happened?™

Thanks for all the input - It was such a relief to hear some other point of views. As it turns out my ex-husband was not getting along with that side of the family when the funeral came around, so he decided not to go after all.

Featured Answers

It's part of life. Let him go. He has to learn someday we wont be here very long. Besides I think its very disrespectful if you wouldnt allow him to go. That is his great-grandpa you know. Just explain what's going to happen there so hes ready for it.
Take Care sorry for the loss

1 mom found this helpful

I'm sorry I think taking a 6 year old to a funeral is inappropriate. #1 The dont really have a good grasp on what death is, and if they show the body, that could give him nightmares #2, You cant expect a 6 year old to sit still in a funeral, and this is a somber time, not a time to run around. It should wait until the child is old enough to understand the concept of death, and that its sad. At 6 I dont believe he is old enough to grasp the concept.

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Hi My name is A. and my son is 8 yrs old. Our stories are very simular. The first funeral my son went to was his Great-grandfathers 3 1/2 years ago this last January. He didnt know him well either but he had met him twice. My son had just turned 5 the previous October when this all occurred. My son is mature for his age, but i feel most kids like him know thier boundries. He didnt want to see the body but did want to be there. it was a little upsetting. People were crying and would say what a great man he was and how fast it happened.. so my son repeated alot of what he heard when he talked to me bout his feelings. The important thing is to let him talk and express his feelings. dont push for them but reassure him your thier to answer anything and do not get upset whatever the question may be. My son did cry but I have to say you should definitly let him attend this one. My father passed away 4 1/2 months later. I was SOOOOOO thankful he had a "practice" funeral. (Someone he wasnt so close to ) Because my father had been living with us for just over 3 years. My son and him were "partners" in crime. They were very close. My son was so upset that i didnt wake him up to say goodbye the night he passed way. I was in bed with my dad when he took his last breath. I have always hated myself for listening to my mother and i didnt wake my son up cuz she said i shouldnt he would be "upset". Well my son woke up and his "Ree" (that was what he called my dad/his grandfather) was "gone". He was soooo mad at me. He wanted to go to the funeral. He knew what to expect. I let him. This is the best age. Go to the library and get a book call "Grandpa and me" its a book about a boy and his grandpa who died. Its Fabulous! Hope i helped you fel a little better. Kids are much more resiliant at this tender age. If my son hadnt attened the 1st funeral I thnk he would have had a much harder time when someone he actually was close to passed waya. He still has thoughts of his ree of course but he never mentions the funeral. Your son will be just fine. Im more than sure of it. If you never talk about death they will never get an oppurtunity to learn how to deal with it. No age is a great age. Its death. It saddens everyone at any age.
~A.~

2 moms found this helpful

I think 6 is an OK age to attend a funeral. My 6 yo granddaughter's grandmother died but because her funeral was in AZ we didn't attend. My granddaughter had never met her other grandmother at an age when she could remember but she still talks about her and her death over a year later. I wish we'd been able to take her to the funeral. Death is a part of life.

We did take her to my mother's funeral when she was 3 or so. She didn't have a concept of death then and her presence was more of a comfort to our relatives. She is a symbol that life does go on; sort of a connection between life and death.

We used this opportunity (at age 5) to tell her that Grandma is happy in heaven. And to reassure her that although we all die someday we die only when it's God's time. I'm her grandma too and she was concerned that I would die. We assured her that she was in God's hands and He would see that she is always taken care of.

Your son is aware that his great grandfather died and he will be able to handle it better emotionally if he's included in the grieving process at a level that is appropriate for his age. If people will be hysterical and unable to tend to his needs then he shouldn't go. But if his father or other people in attendance will be there for him, helping him to understand what is happening, answering his questions, I believe the death will be easier for him to understand and therefore accept without fear.

2 moms found this helpful

I think your son should be given the chance to say goodbye. My great grandfather (Packy) passed when I was really young (between 3 and 5, I'm not sure). I have very limited memories of him, but I do remember not being allowed to go to teh funeral because everyone thought I was too young. That one hs stuck with me because I wanted so badly to say goodbye. Packy had cancer so we were expecting his passing and I understood that he was gone and understood that a funeral is the time to say your goodbyes.

My stepmom passed a few years ago from brain cancer and I took my children (2 and 5) to her funeral. They went with me to visit her in the nursing home and I explained to them from the beginning what was going on. I doubt my daughter remembers her, but I know my son does and going to the funeral helped him understand death a little more.

Maybe you should discuss your concerns with your ex and maybe suggest if it appears to be too much for your son that he can take him out of the room and give him a break. Also, I don't know how close you are with your ex now, but maybe you should pay your respects too and that way you can be there for support for both your son and your ex.

2 moms found this helpful

I think that just about any age is an appropriate age to attend a funeral, although I am sure there are very many view-points. It has been brought to my attention since I was very young that death and the traditions people have surrounding death are a very normal part of life, and we should learn to try and understand and accept all of these traditions.
In my perception it's like how I try to have my child around all types (I have my exceptions) of people. My girlfriend, with whom I raise this child together with has different opinions of who our child should be around, and different ways of raising our child as well. All of these differences our respected, which in turn I do hope will teach our child to understand all of these differences.
In my opinion if your ex-husband wants to take your child to his great grandfathers funeral you should respect his desicion, it doesn't sound like there is any harm to be done here and only good might come of it. Since your child is six you should be able to ask him questions and see what his view on his great grandfathers funeral was.

Although, it is your child and it is in your hands altogether...
Keep those rewards coming!

1 mom found this helpful

I think its just fine. Don't forget, we live life at every age, and anytime there is an opportunity for explaining parts of, it should be considered as golden.

I have a six year old so as well. He is the coolest kid to have "in depth" conversations with. His wheels really turn when we talk about things he inquires about. This could be a great learning opportunity for your son, and the two of you can talk about it when he comes back home. I would ask him questions about it...get a feel for what he thinks and then elaborate from there to help him gain a real understanding about this part of life.

1 mom found this helpful

I believe all children no matter what age they are should attend funerals of their relatives. Kids are tougher than you give them credit for. They also need to learn that death is part of life and not something to fear. Now I wouldn't force a young child to a viewing. That may give them nightmares. Kids need closure like us adults. Since your son didn't know his great grandfather this a way he can learn about who he was.

1 mom found this helpful

It's part of life. Let him go. He has to learn someday we wont be here very long. Besides I think its very disrespectful if you wouldnt allow him to go. That is his great-grandpa you know. Just explain what's going to happen there so hes ready for it.
Take Care sorry for the loss

1 mom found this helpful

It's my belief that funerals...are...well...part of life. We all die, and it's up to us to explain this to our children at ANY age. My son has been to 2 funerals, and he's only 2 1/2. He was at my grandfather's funeral when he was 15 months old, and at his great-uncle's funeral about 4 months ago. While he may not understand about death now, we still explained it to him anyway. I would suggest, perhaps, explaining it to him BEFORE he goes, that way 1. he's not in shock, and 2. you then have some control over how you want it explained...rathr than letting your ex do it.

1 mom found this helpful

I'm sorry I think taking a 6 year old to a funeral is inappropriate. #1 The dont really have a good grasp on what death is, and if they show the body, that could give him nightmares #2, You cant expect a 6 year old to sit still in a funeral, and this is a somber time, not a time to run around. It should wait until the child is old enough to understand the concept of death, and that its sad. At 6 I dont believe he is old enough to grasp the concept.

I think it depends on the situation. I know that when I was about that age (or possibly younger) I attended a funeral for my dad's Uncle Bob, who i didn't know (if i ever met him I was an infant and didn't remember). I understood what death was, or at least the concept, but don't think I had ever really experienced it. I would say a 6 year old probably doesn't belong at the funeral of someone he doesn't know, but I don't think it will be the end of the world if he DOES go. You might politely suggest to you ex that you prefer your son not attend the funeral. If the fact that it is during his visitation is a problem, perhaps it might work into your schedule to switch visitation times with him for that instance? I don't know how well you are able to talk or how close you live to each other, so that may not work, but can't hurt to try,right?

My children just lost a grandmother about 3 weeks ago they were really close to her all of my children went to the funeral. My youngest is 4 it really helped with the realization that she was gone, and that other people wre hurting because she was gone. I wouldnt worry about him going to the funeral. He might have questions but just anwser any of them the best that you can

My opinion is no. A 6 year old shouldn't go to a funeral - especially not for someone he didn't know. It's a somber, often emotional event that's difficult enough for adults to endure. I personally think it's unfair to subject a young child to a funeral unless you are prepared to leave if the child gets upset, bored, etc.

Unfortunately, I don't believe you have a legal say about what your ex-husband does during his visitation period unless there is something in your Parenting Plan that specifically gives you veto power. Is there anything in section 2.1 or 2.2 that restricts his right to make decisions about your son? What about in section 4 - which discusses decision making? If you have any questions, perhaps you could call your divorce lawyer and ask him/her?

I've drafted a number of divorce pleadings and I have never included language that would prevent a parent from attending a funeral with his child. (After reading your post, I may start though.) I've also never seen a Parenting Plan that allowed joint custody that had this kind of restriction, so I'm not too optimistic.

Anyway, do you have a reasonable relationship with your ex? (I know, I know. Silly question, but I had to ask.) Perhaps you could say something like, "I was wondering if you'll be taking our son to the funeral. I'm a little concerned that it would be hard for him to sit quietly and be surrounded by people who might be sad, emotional. Do you think there are some books or toys I could send with him that he could take to the funeral to keep himself busy and entertained?"

Good luck!

Hello K.,
So I think because he is only six and didn't know his Great Grandfather well that he doesn't need to go. However, with that said... My mother kept me and my younger brother out of one of my Uncles funerals because she thought we were too young. I was 7 or 8 and I wanted to go and I still wish she would have let us. The difference in this case is that I knew my Uncle well and also by age 8 I was already familiar with the concept of death.
If your ex does take him to the funeral I don't think it will be that bad. I think because the funeral is for a much older person that it might be a better first funeral. It could turn out to be an opportunity to teach about what can be a difficult subject.
Either way I hope that your ex will respect your opinion on the matter.

I have only been to about 4-5 myself and they are not like in the movies. You learn alot and more about the person. There will most likely be a recepion after and he will see and talk to other family durring that. If anything he will have a hard time sitting still. I think it should be o.k. I dont know how involved dad is but it may be good for the dad to have to help his son to sit still and such, rather than the other fun stuff they get to do on visits. Dad will see what the "nonfun" times are like too. Hope i was helpful!?!?!?! - J.

Hi. My name is A. and when I was six or seven my grandmother passed away. I was not really close to her either because I was so young when she passed. My parents did not take me or my younger sister to the funeral as they thought we were to young. I regret not being given the oppotunity to go and I know that my parents also regret not taking us. It was hard not being able to get the closure of having the opportunity to say goodbye to her. My parents tried as they could to explain what had happened to me but looking back we both agree it would have been better for me and easier to get that closure had I been given the opportunity to go to the funeral. Two years later when my grandfather died I went to that funeraland it really helped to say goodbye to him. I hope this helps.

I understand your reluctance to let him go but I think if both you and your ex explain to him what it is about and that he will have an opportunity to say goodbye and that his great grandfather will always be with him in his heart and in his memories I think he will benefit greatly fromthe experience and thank you for it later in life.

My grandparents passed away last year and I didn't take my daughter. She was 6 at the time. It wasn't a funeral though it was a memorial... it was actually very nice. They talked about there lives more than anything. I don't think children need that in there lives, it is too much in my opinion. Maybe 8 or 9 years old....

Hi, all children learn about death and experience it at differant ages. If your son is truely aware of what it is...then I would let him go. My son is 6 and has lost 3 grand and great grand parents in the last year and a half. He went to the last 2 of them and honestly understands death and the importance of the gathering and was quiet and respectful...even though he borders on ADHD! I would have to say use your own best judgement. Talk to him and see what he thinks about it and how he feels. Remember our children are usually smarter than we think!!!

Hi K.. Alright so I understand what your going through. I just lost my 4 month old niece and that was hard, let along 2 grandparents. My children went to all of the funerals, cause I wanted to give them the opportunity to say goodbye. my oldest is now 5 years old and know what death is, my second is 3 and he understands. My 2 year old has no clue what just happened. The only time it was hard for my children, was when they saw their cousin, but they did good. They told her they loved her and that they need her to look over them.

You can let him go. It would be a good thing. Let him have that opportunity to go. Let his dad take him... If he starts to get scared, then yes take him out, but usually they dont remember. Especially at a young age.

K.

Children should attend funerals. It gives them closure, even if it's someone they don't know well. Sometimes, as they get older, they feel betrayed if they weren't allowed to go. My sister was very upset that she didn't even know my grandfather had died and had not attended the funeral. She understood death, and started crying uncontrollably after I told her. She didn't even believe me. It is VERY harmfull to hold the truth from children, especially in things like life and death.

In the Orthodox Christian faith (the church has been around 2000 years) children are present in the funeral and you can view the body. It's important that children learn that death is part of life. The earlier the better. They actually handle it better than you think. I think he should attend his grandfather's funeral.

It's much more harmful when a parent says "he/she went away" instead of "he/she died". They need to know the truth about it. In fact most children start dealing with death at about age 6. This is the time to be teaching the child about your faith or if you don't have one, make them aware that yes, indeed death does exist. We do not live forever. You want to prepared your child because none of us knows how long we have on this earth.

I lost a cousin when I was about your son's age. I wasn't very close to her though. I stayed with a friend while my family went to the service. I don't think kids that young know what to think about stuff like that. And you wouldn't want to scare him either. I would hold off on taking him. Hope this helps..
K.

Though you didn't mention it in your post, I'm guessing that the real question concerns your son attending a viewing? (Or being in a situation where he will be able to see his great-grandfather's body).

Honestly, this is probably a good way to "introduce" him to funerals, because there will be more in the future. At this point, he's still too young to understand what's going on, and fortunately it's a relative that he doesn't know well (if he remembers him at all), so there's no real mourning for your son to deal with - he'll be able to view the experience more objectively than if he was thrust into a situation involving a close family member.

I say don't worry about it. It's something we all have to deal with eventually, and I would suspect that this particular funeral won't have much of an impact on him. I hope it goes well.

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