Earlier this week our grandmother, the original Billie, passed away. At ninety-seven and a half years old, I would say she had a great run.
As we waited for the funeral arrangements, I began wondering, should my kids attend the funeral? When our dad passed away, it was not even a consideration, the boys, aged four and three, did not come to his funeral. Billie, who was six months old, did because I was still nursing. As a result of our dad’s passing, we talk about death and grief quite a bit, our kids understand people will leave their lives.
I had made my decision about Billie instantly; at six years old, I feel she is too young, even though she could probably sit through the ceremony with greater ease than her older brothers. Additionally, when we broached the topic of death over the past month, she had shown discomfort and worry, none which I want to contribute to by taking her to a funeral.
When it comes to the boys, who are eleven and nine respectively, I am ambivalent about them coming too. I feel my oldest son, is at an appropriate age to be exposed to more. Particularly in this instance, my grandmother’s funeral will be more of a celebration of life, than a harrowing display of grief. If there ever was a “good” funeral to attend, this is the one. And yet, even knowing that, I still hesitated whether or not they should come. What will it mean to him?
Ultimately, it was a text from my mom that stated simply, I want the boys to come to the funeral, that made my final decision.
When Wizz and I were debating what to do with the kids, we tried to recall the first funerals we attended. The earliest memory I have is from my grandfather’s, when I was twelve. Perhaps I went to one earlier, but I can not recall. What I do not have, are any haunting childhood memories about death. I remember seeing my grandfathers body after he had passed away and thinking he looked strange and hollow. However, I still feel that way as an adult, seeing a dead body is weird, not to mention having to prepare myself for all the strange sentiments people may bestow upon you.
While I’m almost certain my grandmother’s funeral will not be open casket, I have prepared the boys as much I can for what they could witness at the funeral.
I would love to know what you think, is it appropriate for kids to attend funerals? How have you handled these situations in your family?