M.M. asks from Denton, TX on July 30, 2007
Would You Take a Child to a Funeral Home?
I am facing an upcoming decision and wanted some advice.
Would you or have you ever taken small children to a funeral home? I have a very difficult decision coming, my grandpa(who my children are close to) is probably not going to make it through the week. He has been on a ventilator since surgery 9 days ago and is fading everyday.
We will be traveling to Michigan when he passes and I am not sure what to do with my children. We have a very big family and there will be 2 full days at the funeral home. Other family members in the past have brought their children but I am leaning toward not taking my children at such an early age.
My 19 month old son will not remember it or know where he is but my 4 year old daughter is very mature and will definitely know. I don't have anyone to watch them if I don't take them so then I would need to stay back at the house with them and not be there to support my family.
Has anyone been in this situation?
N. answers from Dallas on August 03, 2007
I recently was faced with this when my mother in law passed in May. I chose to take my daughter, but I now regret it. My husband and I were crying and she was shocked and began to cry. She is 3. I thought at the time it was a good idea because all 16 of my mother-in-law's grandchildren were there and she wouldn't be. She doesn't remember it, but it broke my heart even more to see her upset.
T. answers from Dallas on August 01, 2007
I'm sorry your family is going through such a difficult time. My only suggestion is that perhaps a family memember in Michigan has a trusted friend that could babysit your children during the time that you are at the funeral home. That is what we did when had an out of town funeral. That way your children are with you, but aren't placed in a situation that they aren't old enough to understand or handle.
D.B. answers from Dallas on July 31, 2007
Another thing you might want to consider is getting some childrens books that discuss death to read with your 4 year old daughter ahead of the trip to help her understand what has happened. I did this when we had a death in the family when my daughter was 3 and it helped. I believe I found them at Family Christian Store.
J.S. answers from Dallas on July 30, 2007
My FIL passed away last year when our son was 2 1/2. He didn't have a viewing, but he did have an open casket during the ceremony. My dad took our son around the cemetary while we had the funeral.
My DH & I didn't feel that it was necessary for him to see the body. I didn't want me son to remember his pawpaw in his casket.
I believe it's a personal decision though!!!
J.W. answers from Dallas on July 31, 2007
my best advice would be to be aware of the feelings of your other family members - my grandfather passed away in november and then my great aunt passed away in february though it was very nice to have my girls around before and after the funeral i was sensitive to the feelings of others and felt it would be inappropriate to have them at the funeral home, the funeral, or the burial (my oldest just turned 3 and the youngest was born 2 weeks before my great aunt passed away) - if they are welcomed to come and you feel they won't be disruptive or distracting to others then bring them - if you were to bring them to the funeral home would you really be able to be supportive or would you be giving the kiddos all your attention - funeral homes can also be crowded with others viewings going on - others may not be as receptive to young children being there - i know this is a very hard time - i am so sorry - my prayers are with you and your family through this difficult time
K.R. answers from Dallas on July 31, 2007
My daughter is 5 and my son is 3. My father pasted awhile on May 4th. My husband stayed home with the kids and I went to Chicago. You are right about your daughter. It would be traumatic and confusing because someone she's close to is going to look very strange, completely unresponsive, and will not open his eyes. My daughter is very bright and she knows that she is not going to see Grampa again. That was upsetting enough. She and my son very distress to see me so upset just trying to pack and make travel arrangements. It was traumatizing to my son because I could tell by the look on his face when he would look at me. As I was packing, he didn't say anything but he would come to me and hug on my leg as I was folding my clothes.
Your grandfather is still alive and regardless of how he is kept alive, he's not gone. When he does die or is taken off the ventilator, it will hit you and the rest of the family that he is now truly gone. You will have a hard enough time handling this situation yourself. And it's better for your children to know that he's not going to see them for a long time. That he is in a special place called Heaven and he'll be waiting to see them later.
I'm sure that you probably have some great pictures of your grandfather with your children. That's what they need to see, not an embalmed body at this stage of their lives.
My daughter stills asks about when is Danny comming home. Danny was our dog. She has pictures of him and her. And occassionally she will ask why is he not coming home. So we talk about heaven again. She has even asked recently if she could go see Danny in Heaven for a little while. Trust me. Your children do not need to be at the funeral. They will learn about death soon enough. I am a Christian who knows that God spared my life a few years ago and I know without any doubt he did it and he did it so my children would not grow-up without their Momma. Someone going to heaven to them should only be a wonderful place and image in their minds with reassurance that they will go there eventually too. The real sight of a dead body would only scare them unnecessarily.
N.F. answers from Dallas on July 30, 2007
The age is different but when my grandfather died my son was 6, my family is very close as well. When we arrived at my grandparents house my son went to all the rooms until I asked him what he was looking for and he responded he was looking for Pipo (my grandfather). I explained that he is not here anymore, that he is in heaven but still lives in our hearts, and he says I know, but where is his body I want to see him. That was when I decided he was ready to go see him at the funeral home. My son was a ray of sunshine, he said a prayer in front of my grandfather and offered kisses and hugs to my father, my grandmother, my aunts and my cousins. The other day while speaking to my grandmother she mentioned how much it meant to her to have him around. Again the ages are different, but I I believe you should ask your daughter what she wants to do, explain the situation and let her make the decision, if she truly is an old soul, as my son is, she will be able to tell you what she wants to do.
A.M. answers from Dallas on July 31, 2007
My DD has been to three funerals in the past 1.5 years - we have lost 4 grandparents in that much time, but she did fine at all. Just sense their feelings and let them stay in an adjacent room if need be with a friend. Sorry for your loss.
T.O. answers from Dallas on July 30, 2007
It is up to you to feel out the situation with your kids... but here's my opinion...
Your kids are too young to few the body or wait through a long ceremony.
However, I was just at a funeral/viewing in March and at most homes, there's a large lobby area and a refreshment room outside of the viewing area and the funeral service. There were lots of younger cousins and toddlers running around the halls and in the refreshment rooms. Relatives took turns spending time with the young ones... a pleansant relief for the relatives... while the adults went to the viewing and spent time with the bereaved.
At the actual service, there is bound to be teen cousins around that don't want to sit through the service, but hang out in the lobby with the younger ones.
I think it's good to have them there and explain where you're going, why you're sad, etc etc but don't make them sit through it.
If you don't have a large family with younger cousins then leave the kids at home with a sitter or trade off with your husband.