"You let him do WHAT?? That's HORRIBLE!" UPDATE & answers, #101 - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 118 Old 10-02-2009, 04:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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A little bit of background info:

I am of the mind-set that taking care of things when you are not emotionally overwrought is a good thing. Anything you can pre-plan, you should do it.

My Dad died last November. He was buried, per his instructions, without embalming or funeral (we don't "do" funerals in my family. I had to take care of purchasing the casket, handling paperwork, dealing with the coroner (Dad died in his home, alone) and all the rest. We'd already purchased multiple plots several years ago (when mil died), so that part was already taken care of. I don't want to have to do all that regarding Mom, when that time comes.

Over the past year, we have discussed, with ds (age 10) death and what various cultures and people choose to do regarding the body and activities involved. I've explained about burial, cremation and such. Ds thinks cremation is a much better idea and has no problems with the idea.

I explained to him that my Mom, when her time comes, desires to be cremated and then buried in Dad's plot. He asked about the container for the ashes. I told him about the different types and we looked them up on the internet. He found it fascinating and asked if he could choose the container for Mom's ashes (she is his favorite relative and grandparent). I told him that would be lovely and that I thought it was pretty cool that he wanted to be a part of the decision making process.

So, ds and I went to the funeral home the other day to choose the urn he'd chose on the internet (this funeral home carries that urn). It's very pretty, a gorgeous blue cloisonne. It comes with a little "keepsake" urn that ds wants to keep for himself (with some of Mom's ashes, when that time comes). I paid for the services that will be needed someday and everything is done. When Mom dies, I won't have to deal with writing checks and handling paperwork when I am deep in sadness. One less burden to deal with (I'll have enough dealing with my no-good siblings! )

As we were leaving the building, carrying the (empty) urn in a box, we met an aquaintance that has been out of town for several months. She said hi and asked what was in the box (and, at the same time - horrified look on her face - realizing we were in front of - and, just exiting - the funeral home).

Ds, smiling, answered, "Oh, we just bought the urn my Grandmother's ashes will go in when she dies. I got to choose which one and even have a special little one that I can keep!" He said the last bit with great pride.

That's when she said, in an anything but pleasant tone, "You let him do WHAT?? That's HORRIBLE! What kind of parent does that?!"

((Hmmm, I guess the kind that I am!))

I smiled and started to explain, politely, that there was no reason he couldn't choose it and that.....

She cut me off, shaking her head, and saying she had to get going. I said, "Well, good to have you back in town. Call us when you're settled so we can get together for lunch and hear about your travels."

She turned, as she was getting in her car and said, "I don't think so."

Ds looked at me and asked, "What is HER problem?!"

We had a good chuckle about it on the drive home and dh shook his head when we told him about it over dinner.

Mom's urn, in its sturdy cardboard box, now sits in the garage, awaiting the day.

We don't think there is anything wrong with discussing and including ds in discussions of death-related issues. He has helped design my Dad's headstone (very cool), came up with the idea for my Mom's headstone (again, unique) and loves to visit the cemetary where we will all end up, someday. We are not morbid people, just practical!
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#2 of 118 Old 10-02-2009, 04:58 PM
 
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I don't see anything wrong with what you and your son did.. In fact, I think it's very sweet and mature

How do you 'ham' a bad parent though? :nana (nevermind... )

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#3 of 118 Old 10-02-2009, 04:58 PM
 
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A lot of people are really uncomfortable with death (and I'll admit that I tend to pretend to myself that mom is immortal). I can kind of understand why she'd find the idea that a 10 year old was involved with the process a bit strange. But, to take it to the point of blowing you off on lunch over this is just bizarre.

I don't know that I'd do what you did with your ds (I'm not even likely to pick out an urn ahead of time in the first place), but I don't see anything wrong with it.

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#4 of 118 Old 10-02-2009, 04:59 PM
 
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Just practical and honest! Sounds fine to me!
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#5 of 118 Old 10-02-2009, 05:02 PM
 
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I think it probably caught her off guard - it's just not how most people deal with death. Most of us pretend it's not going to happen!

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#6 of 118 Old 10-02-2009, 05:03 PM
 
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Your aquaintance was horribly rude to say that in front of your ds. I'm glad you and ds could laugh it off.
If your ds has recently gone through the death of your father then it is a familiar concept to him and I don't see what the big deal is acting proactively and tenderly about other future family deaths.
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#7 of 118 Old 10-02-2009, 05:04 PM
 
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Honesty is the best policy in this case! I think that as long as your son is mature enough to handle such discussions (obviously he is) then there's no problem.

Granted, I can see how she'd be a bit weirded out (I'll admit, I am a little bit...) but I don't understand not going to lunch because of it. Is she afraid you'll bring the urn with you?

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#8 of 118 Old 10-02-2009, 05:11 PM
 
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Uh, yeah to all that....what everyone else already said!

People "do" different things with death.
Wow. That's kind of rude of her.

Apparently I'm in the "bad parent" club with you!
My son and I talk about what kind of headstone we'd like frequently.

Different strokes for different folks.

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#9 of 118 Old 10-02-2009, 05:12 PM
 
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Death is a part of life. It sounds like she is in denial and thinks everyone else should be as well. I think you're a fantastic parent for being so open and honest with your child, and for allowing him to assist in the preparations for his grandmother's inevitable death. We also talk openly about death in my house. It beats the denial, silence, and lies that I grew up with.

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#10 of 118 Old 10-02-2009, 05:17 PM
 
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I am angry on your behalf that the process of making arrangements has been tainted by this woman. That when you look at the urn you will remember this awful woman. (Well, maybe you will... I hope not!!).

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#11 of 118 Old 10-02-2009, 05:18 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grahamsmom98 View Post
Ds looked at me and asked, "What is HER problem?!"


Her problem is that she is likely afraid of death and let's that fear form all her thoughts around the subject.

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#12 of 118 Old 10-02-2009, 05:21 PM
 
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i think what you did for your son is awesome and very healthy.

my dad died somewhat unexpectedly 3 mos ago and i asked my 7yo ds if he wanted to touch g'pa, as it was his first experience with death. he chose not to, and that was fine.

on the lighter side, we spent quite some time in the showroom of the funeral home picking out urns, and i guess i sort of horrified the funeral director when i asked him if he had anything shaped like a flask. tee, hee...in the end we went with a black plastic box and a keepsake urn. the bulk of the ashes will be spread on a mountain near his hometown in western PA, and the little urn is what we will keep.

Bring back the old MDC
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#13 of 118 Old 10-02-2009, 05:26 PM
 
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Kudos to you for your approach and for what is obviously a loving and comfortable relationship with your son. It's actually wonderfully comforting to have these things worked out in advance and to know that what you're doing has the blessing and approval of the one who will be departing someday. When the sad day comes, you will have the time you need to grieve instead of deal with those other things.

I just feel sorry for your acquaintance and her "issues."

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#14 of 118 Old 10-02-2009, 05:29 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grahamsmom98 View Post
Ds looked at me and asked, "What is HER problem?!"
It sounds like you are a wonderful parent and your son is very mature and confident. It sounds like your acquaintance wasn't quite so lucky.
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#15 of 118 Old 10-02-2009, 05:49 PM
 
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I think you have a really healthy outlook on death and it's great that you're passing that along to your DS.

A lot of people (my husband and his parents included) fear death and try to avoid talking or even thinking about it. My MIL becomes visibly upset for days whenever she has the realization that death is inevitable. Then she goes out and spends a bunch of money and everything is fine again... for a while.

I'm like you... I'd like to prepare in advance as much as I can before the actual event (death). I'm in the process of preparing my own "funeral plans" down to the type of flowers and program and songs I'd like. It will all be in a box that my husband or other family member will just have to follow through with. Then they don't have to think about making decisions like that while greiving. I think it's one of the most loving things I could do for them... so they can just focus on the greiving process.

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#16 of 118 Old 10-02-2009, 06:13 PM
 
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I don't think you did anything horrible. While my DC are really too young to understand a whole lot, I think about that sometimes. I want my headstone to say "I knew that was going to happen."

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#17 of 118 Old 10-02-2009, 06:51 PM
 
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I personally wouldn't have purchased the urn when its intended occupant is still breathing, but other than that (which is a personal preference) I don't think you did anything wrong.
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#18 of 118 Old 10-02-2009, 07:02 PM
 
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Our family is kinda like yours, so I totally understand. We aren't at all weirded out by death. But, the stress that goes with it is horrible. I don't look forward to dealing with my Mom's estate when the time comes.
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#19 of 118 Old 10-02-2009, 07:20 PM
 
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Is it really bad that I think the whole situation with that lady is hilarious.

Gillian - Wife to an amazing DH, Mother to 4 wonderful kiddos . . . and now another on the way.
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#20 of 118 Old 10-02-2009, 07:28 PM
 
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I don't think you did anything horrible. While my DC are really too young to understand a whole lot, I think about that sometimes. I want my headstone to say "I knew that was going to happen."
I think I found my new headstone epitaph. That or "I told you so."

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#21 of 118 Old 10-02-2009, 07:48 PM
 
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Is it really bad that I think the whole situation with that lady is hilarious.
You've got me as company!

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#22 of 118 Old 10-02-2009, 07:54 PM
 
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OP, sorry to resort to psychobabble here, but that encounter had everything to do with her personal views (fears!) of death and very little to do with your parenting. I think she was just projecting her own discomfort with a taboo topic...

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#23 of 118 Old 10-02-2009, 07:58 PM
 
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I thought about this a little more, and I really like the idea of figuring out your funeral ahead of time. I may start looking at gravesite, headstones, alternative options. I already decided after the last funeral I was at that I would be cremated. No if, ands or buts. I realize people want to say their good-byes, but OMG! Say it to a nice framed photo of me looking my very best!

So no viewing, no coffin.

I've been to a few funerals in my life, all close relatives (Dad, grandparents, mother-in-law, favorite aunt). I just don't see them as morbid as some do. Some people are so uptight. I think its quite touching that your son is involved as he is. He's giving and has been given a very special gift.

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#24 of 118 Old 10-02-2009, 08:50 PM
 
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I don't knwo, I think it is kind of weird to be picking out LIVE grandma's urn unless it was WITH her. I mean, really, what do you do, call grandma up and say, hey grandma, I just bought you a really cool gift, picked it out myself, oh, yup, it's an URN for your ashes when you die.

Our family is not strange about death, we aren't AFRAID of death, we all realize that DEATH comes at the end of life, but at the same time, we aren't going on shopping trips for urns as a fun afternoon activity. I agree that her response was a bit strong, but really, it does seem to be a bit, umm, odd, to be doing it without your mom, who I am guessing is not knocking death's door. I'm sure she was quite shocked by the outing.
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#25 of 118 Old 10-02-2009, 09:15 PM
 
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I don't knwo, I think it is kind of weird to be picking out LIVE grandma's urn unless it was WITH her. I mean, really, what do you do, call grandma up and say, hey grandma, I just bought you a really cool gift, picked it out myself, oh, yup, it's an URN for your ashes when you die.

.

OK.. now that I think about that. I might be a little hurt if my grandson told me "Hey... wanna see the urn we bought you for when you die?" I'd be wondering why my daughter didn't just buy me a nice picture frame or something less dooming. But, other than THAT, I think it's a great idea.

Sorry your friend thinks you are the creepy mom. She's probably already blocked you on facebook.
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#26 of 118 Old 10-02-2009, 09:23 PM
 
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i think the lady is the wierd one.

it's nice that you are able to talk with your son and make death less of a scarey thing for him than it is for most people in the world.

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#27 of 118 Old 10-03-2009, 12:13 AM
 
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I don't knwo, I think it is kind of weird to be picking out LIVE grandma's urn unless it was WITH her. I mean, really, what do you do, call grandma up and say, hey grandma, I just bought you a really cool gift, picked it out myself, oh, yup, it's an URN for your ashes when you die.

Yeah, this is the only negative reaction I had to your post. I would probably have told my DD, "Yes, I am sure Nana would be very happy to know that you would pick out the urn after she dies," or something like that.

Otherwise, I think it's great that you're talking to your son about these things.

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#28 of 118 Old 10-03-2009, 12:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Don't worry, my Mom will never know we've already purchased the urn! I'd never be that tacky (and neither would ds).

She is a stroke survivor, but we feel she has had another, small one, recently. She is more "out there" than she has been. Her short-term memory is about 2 minutes, at best. Though we would never show her the urn, if she ever saw it, she'd forget about it within minutes.

Ds wanted to get the urn he liked NOW, as he was concerned they might discontinue that style. It is of importance to him, so we figured, why not now?!

Glad everyone thought it was a funny encounter!
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#29 of 118 Old 10-03-2009, 02:24 AM
 
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Your aquaintance was horribly rude to say that in front of your ds.
i disagree. her reaction was v. plausible.

i mean lets imagine OP had posted just this part.

Ds, smiling, answered, "Oh, we just bought the urn my Grandmother's ashes will go in when she dies. I got to choose which one and even have a special little one that I can keep!" He said the last bit with great pride.

doesnt that by itself sound horrible? without an explanation that we ourselves were given before this information.

OP perhaps those were not the exact words but perhaps the sentiment was the same. now if you had given a little back ground perhaps the acquaintance might have had a chance to react differently.

its one thing to be open about death. its a whole different story to be buying an urn for a living person.

OP please note i am not criticising you or anything.

i am just trying to say why i find her reaction perfectly normal. i wonder if she interpreted that as you guys cant wait for mother to die, or you dont care - you just want to get it over with.

i am so glad that you have such a wonderful openess around death. it is a v. shocking concept in our culture. and many people in their 50's have never seen a dead body. it is a hush, hush subject and no one really ever talks about it.

of course she should not have been so rude in front of your son. but i can totally understand why she was.

i hope one day you can clear this up for her. i am sure there is a misunderstanding here.

i absolutely did not find this encounter funny. sad perhaps. miscommunication. but definitely not funny.

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#30 of 118 Old 10-03-2009, 09:25 AM
 
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I think what you are doing by teaching your ds about how to handle death as a normal part of life and not something to be scared of or keep hushed is great! I wish someone wolud've done that for me- as an adult I don't deal w/death well- I'm the avoidant type (don't even know how to act towards others that have lost someone). And am now having a hard time teaching/talking about it w/my dc. You are insipiring to me!
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