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-   -   How young is too young? (http://www.thelightbeyond.com/forum/showthread.php?t=80)

harmony_mom July 2nd, 2007 17:10

How young is too young?
 
After reading a post in the grieving teens forum, I am curious what others think on this topic: How young is too young to attend a funeral?
Do you feel that it is innapropriate to take younger children to a funeral?
I personally feel that no age should be too young. For me a funeral is a celebration of a persons life and the impact that they've made on others. I think that we should begin teaching our children at an early age what death is, that it's a part of life, and that it is normal and healthy to be sad that our loved ones won't be with us anymore but that they aren't gone forever and we'll see them again.
What is your opinion on the subject?

SageMother July 3rd, 2007 16:33

Quote:

Originally Posted by harmony_mom (Post 263)
After reading a post in the grieving teens forum, I am curious what others think on this topic: How young is too young to attend a funeral?
Do you feel that it is innapropriate to take younger children to a funeral?
I personally feel that no age should be too young. For me a funeral is a celebration of a persons life and the impact that they've made on others. I think that we should begin teaching our children at an early age what death is, that it's a part of life, and that it is normal and healthy to be sad that our loved ones won't be with us anymore but that they aren't gone forever and we'll see them again.
What is your opinion on the subject?

I think a child should be between the ages of 3 and 8 before they are taken to a funeral. This is because they are more likely to disturb others, not as a protection for them.

DefyingGravity July 3rd, 2007 17:07

I believe that I agree with SageMother, regarding very young children disturbing others. It's kind of like how you wouldn't take a young child to the theatre, because they can act up. I've heard horror stories concerning very young children acting up at funerals. I'd say that children should probably be older than 6 to attend a funeral, because after that they tend to understand how to act better.

I don't think young children should attend viewings, though, as they can have nightmares and such. I knew of a family who let their very young daughter (age 5) view a close family friend who was like a grandmother to her. I believe it was inappropriate because the woman was emaciated after a long battle with illness, and the little girl didn't understand the concept of death. But viewings are different than funerals.

Calypso July 3rd, 2007 23:43

Children and funerals
 
Grief expert Alan Wolfeldt has said that anyone old enough to love is old enough to grieve. In general, children, like adults, need a chance to say goodbye if they want to.

But parents know their children better than anyone else. I think it is up to the parents to explain to their child what the funeral is for and what will happen there. Kids and their parents can then decide based on an individual basis whether funeral attendance is appropriate. Older children may even want to be involved in planning the service, perhaps by selecting a special reading or song.

Whether a child attends the services or not, he or she needs to find some way to say goodbye whether that means visiting the grave or planting a rosebush in the back yard.

I'm so glad to see that the topic of young mourners is being addressed here. In hospice, we call children the "forgotten grievers"--thank you for not forgetting them here.

cassiem0221 July 3rd, 2007 23:55

I was 5 when my grandfather died. My grandmother didn't allow me to go because she said I would be scared because he "didn't look the same". I always kinda held a grudge about that and then when she passed away this last year, I understood why. I too didn't let my 6 year old attend because "she didn't look the same". I wanted him to remember her as the energetic granny he knew, not the pale sick looking one...

SageMother July 5th, 2007 13:55

One of the things that strikes me is how death and young people is handled now compared to earlier times. I can remember having to kiss my maternal grandfather on the cheek while he lay in the coffin when I was in 3rd grade. I am suer that was a hold over from the 1930's when the viewing was in the parlour in the family home.

These days someone would be horrified at this expected behavior.

harmony_mom July 6th, 2007 00:38

I think you're right that someone now would be horrified at that gesture. I personally can't really wrap my mind around kissing someone who is dead, but I guess it just depends on the person. I remember quite vividly my aunt kissing her husband before they closed his casket. It was both sweet and a little unnerving for me, but then I'm one of those people who doesn't do well at viewings. I would agree that viewings are different from a funeral as far as children are concerned. My cousin has a little boy who is mentally handicapped and although he hadn't seem my grandmother for years and I'm sure didn't remember her, he was very upset by seeing her remains. It scared him, and he didn't understand what was going on. I think that if even I, as an adult, find viewings unsettling, it's probably a good idea to really evaluate how a child would deal with one.

sandmike123 July 6th, 2007 23:29

I think once the child is old enough to understand the process of a funeral and what happens there that they should be allowed to make up their own minds whether they want to go. Everyone including children have their own ways of dealing with things and saying good bye. I personally attend funerals to pay my respects but never go near the coffin. I prefer to remember them as they were when they were alive.

Jewel July 16th, 2007 18:43

I attended my first funeral when I was 3 or 4. I didn't understand completely what was going on, so I would probably wait until they were much older. I attended several funerals when I was between the ages of 6 and 11. The whole time I was there, I thought horrible things like "This is taking forever!". I would wait until the kids are more mature.

azaleaeight October 14th, 2007 20:46

I was ten when I went to my grandfather's funeral. I had been very close to him, and he had been hit by a bus at 81 years old.

I wasn't horrified by any means, but looking back I realize that it was awful thing for me to go through at the time. There was all the adjusting to the death, the missing him, etc., and then there was the big, ornate, incense-smelling, formal, Catholic mass.

I think when it comes to children it also depends on how close they were to the person. If they weren't awfully close attending a funeral can be a good chance to see what its all about. When its someone awfully close, though, I think it can be too much.

My children and my sister's children were so close to my mother there aren't even words to describe it. We each 18-year-olds and 13-year-olds. I had an 11-year-old. My mother's death followed 15 months of her having horrible pain and losing both feet, so there was so much for them to digest. Both my sister and I gave our younger children the option of not going or going. We both believed strongly that our mother would have said, "Don't put them through that." All of the children said they were glad not to be expected to go. Three years later when my children lost their other grandmother they were ready to attend her funeral.

Maybe if they were younger they would have been a little more "ready" because they wouldn't have gotten to the stage in development where they knew very well what had gone on, what was going on, etc.

My mother had known how much they loved her, and my mother - above all people - was one who believed in letting children be protected a little when it seems right. She was always one to think children would have plenty of time for grown-up responsibilities and issues once they grew up.

If I'm ever a grandmother and have children who adore me the way our children adored our mother, I hope their parents let them off the hook when I die - if they feel it would be too much to handle.


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