Thursday, June 25, 2009

Children at a Funeral

Momma knows that at sometime we all must deal with the passing of a loved one. How do we handle the whole funeral setting with children?

Momma Explains: When I was nine, my dearest grandmother died and I was devastated. I did not really understand death nor its ramifications but I knew I loved her desperately and wanted her back. My parents, in an effort to shield the children, did not allow us to attend the wake nor the mass and burial. To this day, I still wish that I had attended. I needed to be allowed to mourn.
Not every child can handle the images and experiences of a wake and/ or funeral service. The viewing is far more difficult for a child and you must reflect on each child's maturity when deciding on their presence at the wake. Some children want to be part of this mourning process, while others stay as far from the casket and mourners as possible. You and your child should think that out and decide. Now, while the wake or viewing is an individual decision, I believe that the service part of the funeral should be a family affair. As a family we support and participate in family life together, and death is a part of the life process. Children need to learn that we have a process to death and a way to provide comfort to ourselves and others. Children need to mourn and be loved during a loss, they should not be shut out. Talking things out with your children will provide them with an opportunity to share their feelings and concerns. Often young children are frightened that their parents will die soon too, or that they themselves will die. There are good books available to help you approach the topic and I would have one available for the sad time when you need it. Do not forget the children as the adults organize and collate the funeral service. Let the children help make the scrap book or collage, if they wish. Let the support, the prayer and love embrace all ages as you mourn. Death is a part of life and we need to be parents that bring their children full circle in life's experiences so they are prepared for all that they will face in life and in death.

1 comment:

  1. I became accustomed to death fairly early in life, because my parents took me to each and every funeral that they needed to attend, since babysitters were expensive.

    Sadly, it never hit home to me until I was eight and my great-uncle died just what it all really meant.

    And...because it hit me like a shock wave right there at the graveside that I would never again see my uncle on earth...I made a bit of a scene.

    What happened that day became one of the most formative memories of my life.

    As I cried, loudly and a bit hysterically there at the graveside, my father, a grizzled Vietnam veteran came up beside me, turned me to face him, and slapped me, hard, across the face before telling me that 'real men don't cry'.

    I've had difficulty showing any emotion since that day, and only wish that my father had responded more like what you describe here.

    It would have certainly made it so that when I recently attended my grandfather's funeral, I wasn't questioned by my own father as to why I 'hated' his father, which he felt was obvious by the fact I wasn't crying.