B.T. asks from Lansing, MI on June 19, 2008
What to Expect? Do I Include Them?
My dear uncle had been given basically less than 30 days after a valient fight with cancer. He is very special to me and this is hard on me, even though we knew it would come. I have a 10 year old son (this uncle is his Godfather) and a 6 year old girl. My uncle has a son a couple of years older than my boy and I'm kind of expecting this to be an 'experience' for my son (to see someone close to his age lose their father). I'd like to be prepared on how to help him through this. Also, my daughter is still young, but as this uncle is close to us I haven't even considered NOT taking her to the funeral, but now I'm wondering if I should. She's very emotional and I can see this being an obsession with her for a while. We're a religious family and they understand what it means and where you go. It's not the whole 'death' issue I'm worried about, it's the after affects. As an adult you understand and know that time heals. But I'm not sure how kids will handle that - they were too young with other relatives passed away to really comprehend it. I just would like a little insight as to what I might expect. Any advice or helpful websites would be appreciated.
1 mom found this helpful
So What Happened?™
Thanks so much to everyone! You shared some VERY personal stories with me and I truely apprecaite that! You tend to want to think you're the only one going through this and it's helpful to know you're not. I have decided I will take my daughter with us (as it will be out of town). She has talked about it a lot and seems comfortable enough with it. Thank you again for the wonderful advice and caring thoughts!
F.W. answers from Detroit on June 20, 2008
I am sorry to hear what your family is going through. From experience, I know it is so hard to see someone slipping away from cancer. As much as you want to prepare your children for what is to come, I do believe that the focus is on the present. Your uncle is still here, let your children know that if there is anything they want to say or do for him, now is the time. Children do have the power to help others, and that feeling is strong in many of them. This act teaches them not to have regrets. If they say and see what they want to to their uncle, when he does pass on, they may see the experience in the whole, and may not have the neeed to go to the funeral. Take the lead from your children. If seeing other people grieve would be too much for one of them, don't include them in that part of the funeral. I found the biggest fear in your daughter's age group when someone dies, is if mommy and daddy are going to go away from me also. Let her know that both of you are healthy and are taking care of each other and them and will be for a very, very long time. Whichever way you go you will be right. There actually are several books on children and grieving, many of them religious based, so depending on your faith, start a search there. I hope for peace for your family during this time.
P.D. answers from Grand Rapids on June 20, 2008
My father just passed away recently. My daughters (ages 11 & 10) were involved in the funeral, but not the visitation. Allow them to go a little early to see your uncle and say good-bye to him. They need closure just as much as we do. They both will have a different way of processing the death ~ there is a wonderful book called 'What is Heaven'. A good book for you is '90 minutes in heaven.' Being from a religious family also, it just helped them and me understand death a little more. Let them ask questions also. You'd be amazed at what they come up with. Also allow them to journal their thoughts. My youngest daughter has started that. It's a way for her to process her thoughts. She writes why she is sad and also fun things she remembers about him. My list could go on and on. I guess the best thing is to let them figure out how they want to deal with it.They will. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this time.
C.B. answers from Detroit on June 20, 2008
I took my son to his first funeral at age 3. He was also there to experience the death of our very beloved dog, and our cat. He's since been to a few other funeral, although none of the people were ones he was extremely close to. I do it as a way to prepare him for when his Grandma and Granny pass. Especially his Granny ( my husband's mom). He is extremely close to her. I just want him to know that death is an experience and nothing to be afraid of. He knows what happens after death as we've had many conversations about it. If your daughter is too emotional, it may be too soon for her to experience it. I would definetely take your son though. Anyone who barks at you for it, just doesn't understand that you are doing what you feel is best for your child. Hope it works out and my sympathies to you and your family!
J.M. answers from Lansing on June 20, 2008
I agree with several of the others to keep your kids involved and don't exclude them. If they know he is going to heaven, then it is not as difficult for them because they have the "faith of a child" Christ talks about. As adults we over think everything. They may say "You know where people really go after they die?..To the funeral home". To my kids it was confusing why theh body was here and the spirit was not. They wanted to touch the body in the casket and we let them, so they understood that the body and spirit are separate. Then when it comes up in church, they "get" it. This is a big part of growing up.
J.L. answers from Detroit on June 20, 2008
INCLUDE THEM AS MUCH AS THEY SELF WANT TO BE INCLUDED:
I have an experience that may help your decision and one to show how much they notice w/o us expecting it.
1st, our daughter was 4 when her great grandma died, NOT a close relative, barely knew her but was insulted that we chose to have her babysat while we were at the funeral with her big brother, She is alomst 10 now and still remembers being "left out"
Our son had a close friend who missed her dad at the age of 4 and 2 CLOSE relatives at the age of 5. He was with us to the funerals as support to Charlotte - his close friend. Charlottes mom got mariend again when Mark was 6 and he looked at the church flag and asked in all innocence "why isn't it on ½ mast?? It always is when Charlotte and I are in church."
We were never aware that he had noticed the flag, we were so concerned that he wasn't scared or anything, so our attention was on explaining things.
Our prayers go out to your family,
J. - mom to Mark 16, and Vanessa 9½, full time empolyed and living overseas.
A.H. answers from Detroit on June 19, 2008
I feel if your children know about the circle of life, then it may help for them to have the closure as well. It could be tough, but they will find their own way to work it out (friends that also have experienced it) and if you are open with them, it will help all involved.
Very, very sorry for your loss!
S.W. answers from Grand Rapids on June 20, 2008
Contact your local Hospice agency. They have great materials for children and advice. Most also have greif counceling for families of hospice patients and community grief counceling. It is a little known service that hospice provides. Do not forget your church may also offer materials and some help. I am sorry for your upcomming loss.
A.H. answers from Grand Rapids on June 19, 2008
I am sorry that you are going to have to go through such a hard time. I don't know of any books or websites that I can offer for help, but without a doubt, bringing your children to the funeral is a very good idea. They need to say 'good-bye' just as we adults do. My 3 year old watched us bury his great-grandmothers within 2 months of each other less than 6 months ago. At the time, I explained to him that they were up with the angels and that we were saying good-bye and that we weren't going to see them anymore, etc., but he was able to make his own understanding by telling me that "Grandma is sleeping and she's not going to wake up." They really understand more than we give them credit for. Be prepared for questions for days, weeks, and months. Remind your children that it is okay to cry and miss their uncle and that it is all part of the healing process and that what they are feeling is normal; it is what you are feeling, too. When my son sees pictures, he says things like, "Grandma is an angel now" or, "We can't see Grandma anymore, but she sees us from heaven". They will absorb what you tell them and take it in and remember it. Best of luck to you!