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Old 05-06-2011, 11:38 AM   #1
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toddlers and funerals

My FIL died and due to some funerals I was forced to attend as a child, I would not want DS (3) to attend, however it would be good for MIL if he were there.

What has anyone else done in this situation?

I am particularly adamant that he not see the body, so that is not negotiable at all. However it will seem to him that his grandpa just disappeared, but I am not sure that is avoidable.



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Old 05-06-2011, 11:44 AM   #2
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Re: toddlers and funerals

when my uncle passed away last year we did not let DS see him (even tho he wanted to) thought it would be too tramatic, especially since it was my dads twin brother.

As far as the memorial service, my in laws were "in charge" of him. And at 3 he really couldnt sit quietly that entire time, so they took him out and went and got ice cream.

Is there anyone you can bring with you to watch him? A just in case plan.

As far as him thinking grandpa "disappeared"...I would find some books ( so I cant search right now), maybe put a picture of him w/ grandpa in a frame and put in his room.

when my sister died we have her last picture (taken a month before she was killed) in a frame in DS room...even tho he never met her he talks about her daily...and how she is up in heaven with Jesus.
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Old 05-06-2011, 11:45 AM   #3
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Re: toddlers and funerals

My condolences on the loss of your FIL.
We lost my FIL in March and had the same dilemna. We decided NOT to bring the girls to the wake (both my BILs did bring their kids, ranging in ages of 1-12--it was too much for the younger kids).
I did bring them to the actual funeral, as it was a mass at church and my parents as well as many cousins would be there. One of my DDs sat with me, the other 2 were in teh back with cousins, then they went to the quiet room. It worked out fine.

I was nervous because before the funeral, we all went to the funeral home to say good byes. I was surprised that both my older girls (4) approaced the casket to give pop-pop the pictures they had drawn. I was afraid they would be scared adn had intended to keep them in the back. They weren't though, and I didn't force the issue of going up or not. We were only there for about 45 minutes.

ETA--We told them that Pop Pop had died, and was in Heaven with God. That they wouldn't be able to see him, but could close their eyes and talk to him, etc. He was sick...and they understood (I think) that he's not in pain anymore. They handled it surprisingly well...and still tell people how Pop Pop is in Heaven with Bailey (our dog).
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Old 05-06-2011, 12:58 PM   #4
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Re: toddlers and funerals

Ds is a bit younger, but dh's grandma passed away not long ago, and we took him to the funeral with us. It was at church with a service, there wasn't an open casket or anything like that. He mostly sat on my lap. Near the end of the service, as he got bored and wanted to move around more, I took him to the back of the sanctuary where he could walk a bit without disturbing anyone or later just outside it. I could still hear the service over the sound system even though I was out there.
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Old 05-06-2011, 01:01 PM   #5
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Re: toddlers and funerals

at age 3, they really don't understand. I see nothing wrong with children attending a funeral. It is how you, as the parent, handles the situations.
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Old 05-06-2011, 01:05 PM   #6
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Re: toddlers and funerals

When I was 4 my favorite aunt died and my family didnt allow me to go to the funeral. It is something I found hard to forgive because I never got closure and to be able to say goodbye. Heres the thing I knew she died and now as an adult maybe I shouldnt have seen the body per se but I feel I could have at least attended the burial service graveside and seen her casket entombed.
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Old 05-06-2011, 01:07 PM   #7
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Re: toddlers and funerals

i'm sorry for you and your family's loss mama.
my dad died when my sons were 2 years old and 10 months old.
i brought them both to the funeral and everywhere with me, it was no problem.
the funeral home should have an area outside of the room where the coffin is where you can keep your son "entertained"

hope it goes well and easy for you.
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Old 05-06-2011, 01:14 PM   #8
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Re: toddlers and funerals

My DD's grandma died the day before her 3rd birthday. She was sick for a long time with cancer but still we weren't expecting her death anytime soon. We didn't let DD go to the funeral simply because we didn't think we could keep her still and quiet long enough for the service. We did take her to the funeral home to see the body though. And DD didn't really understand it all. She was kinda confused by it.

I've since had to deal with explaining that Bubbe's not coming back, she's up in heaven...etc etc etc. I finally caved in and said that she's dead a few months ago (she died 1 1/2 years ago) and DD still doesn't quite get it. Every time we pass the hospital Bubbe was in a lot, DD will say "there's bubbe's hospital. bubbe's sick. she's up in heaven. I really miss bubbe. But we don't have wings to fly up to heaven. I want her to come back. is bubbe going to get better?" I feel so bad for my DD since they were really close, and she doesn't understand the finality of death. She still cries for her occasionally and has even started talking to her like saying goodnight to her while looking up.
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Old 05-06-2011, 01:29 PM   #9
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Re: toddlers and funerals

I'd like to preface that I think you should do whatever makes you the most comfortable.

My experience:
Near Thanksgiving my grandfather finally passed away from Alzheimer's disease. My DS came with us for the whole long week of sitting vigil as we waited for grandpa to pass, and then came along to the funeral. He was two at the time. He did see the body shortly after Grandpa had passed, since we were all there. I was worried he might find it traumatizing, but in the end, he just walked up, touched Grandpa's leg very gently, and looked at me. I said "he's gone." and DS repeated it, and as far as DS was concerned, that was that, I guess.

Anyway, I did not let him see the body after the morticians had been at work, because I too had a traumatizing childhood memory. I was there when my great-grandmother passed, and I remember it as being almost uneventful. She looked old, and tired and done. Then I saw her at the open-casket funeral a week later and she looked horrifying. Sewn-up lips and hooker make-up. I didn't want to repeat that for the kid. Best that his memory of death, such as it is, be death in its natural environment.

We did go to the funeral, which was largely an exercise in trying to keep DS quiet and ended with us in the church's back hallway.

Through the whole process, my mother and grandmother kept saying what a blessing it was to have DS along, because he's so irrepressably happy most of the time.

Would your family be understanding if you had to slip out to the back of the church part way through the service? Would doing so interfere with your own ability to get closure? If the answers are yes and no, respectively, I would bring him along. If not, perhaps he could attend the [wake/reception] instead.
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Old 05-06-2011, 02:40 PM   #10
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Re: toddlers and funerals

To be honest I view death as a part of life and I have taken my oldest son to a funeral. When he was 2.5 his baby sister was still born. We had a very small family funeral and he was there. I wanted him to be there with me and also to have a chance to say goodbye to his sister. He knew he was supposed to have a sister and I didn't think he would understand if she just disappeared. He sat with dh and I for part of the service and then our UU Reverend held him for part of the service (he sort of just ran up to the Reverend and held his arms up, he really liked him). Before we left Dh held him over the little Moses basket so he could wave goodbye to Arawyn. He was not bothered at all by her body. Because it was a short and informal service just for close family (and obviously dh and myself were the primary mourners) it was not a problem if he was a tad disruptive. He was actually very quiet. The only thing he did was beg to be held by our Reverend and even then he did so silently.

When my brother and I were small my Grandfather passed. I was 5 so my brother would have been 3. We were at the hospital when he passed (my Grandmother and Grandfather lived with us, My Dad was their only child together). We also attended the funeral and viewing. I remember viewing my Grandfather's body together before the funeral actually started though I don't much remember what he looked like. I more remember him from before. My Grandfather was my favorite person when I was a child. I remember spending most of the actual service in a separate room with some of my distant cousins and my Grandfather's sister because the adults were afraid the kids would disturb the service. We didn't go to the grave side service because it was raining.
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