Appropriate Age to Attend Wake/Funeral? - Mothering Forums
Grief and Loss > Appropriate Age to Attend Wake/Funeral?
EStraiton's Avatar EStraiton 09:24 AM 07-07-2006
**posted in Parenting also
My Nanny passed away yesterday morning. I am having a hard time as we were very close and she was my last grandparent. My three daughters were very much loved by her as well. The wake and funeral will be a big to-do as we come from an Irish-Catholic family.

My dd's are 12, 5 and 2. At what age would you feel comfortable bringing your child to a wake and funeral? I am more concerned about the wake because there will be an open casket and it will be a two-day wake. I feel my 12 y/o can handle it but I'm not sure about the little ones. My MIL is willing to help out all weekend but the thought of being away from my children at a time like this for that long breaks my heart. I want them close to me.

I've thought of keeping the little ones in the hallway but I'm not sure if that will be possible as I will be sitting with the family. I do not want to shelter them from death but my middle dd is extremely sensitive and I do not want to cause her nightmares, etc. either.

Any experience or opinons?

lisamarie's Avatar lisamarie 02:19 PM 07-07-2006
I am so sorry to hear about your Grandmother. IMHO there is no right or wrong answer to this question. When my 1st husband died, my ds was 3 1/2. I did let him have the choice to attend, but it was not an open casket and I had a dear friend help me with him to take him out if he needed a break. He is such a sensitive child as well and I was worried about the stress of the day for him. We did alot of reading about death and different types of services before the funeral and continued to talk about it long after it was over. My friend was wonderful with him and I was so thankful to have him there.

My Mother died when my ds was 8 and he wanted to be a part of the memorial service and read something he had written about her. Again, it was not an open casket. My dd was only 1 at the time and still nursing, but I had here stay at home with a dear friend. I had to be fully present for my Dad and help with the service and I didn't feel that I could handle taking care of my sweet girl and taking care of my Dad that day.

My heart is with you and please know that we are here to listen and to support you.

Much Love~

EStraiton's Avatar EStraiton 02:25 PM 07-07-2006
Thanks ladies.
Still so unsure... waiting to hear about when everything is.
I'm assuming tomorrow and Sunday and Monday.

Lisa-I'm so sorry your lost your first dh. May I ask how it happened? I can't imagine going thru that with a young child and admire your strength.

MCatLvrMom2A&X's Avatar MCatLvrMom2A&X 08:32 PM 07-07-2006
I have taken both mine to funerals. My dd was around 18mo the first time then again at around 2-3 then again at 4 my ds has been to 2 in his short life 20mo. With my dd she did fine and I had help with her from dh and other family members and she did very well. Like the pp said I dont think there is a age that applies. I would go with how your kids deal with things.

So sorry for your loss.
Kirsten's Avatar Kirsten 10:34 PM 07-07-2006
I believe that kids who are old enough to understand what it is, and act appropriately, should attend funerals. For me, that is about five. I would never take my kids younger than four - as my dd3 is three now and wouldn't understand a bit of it, and would likely be loud, have a hard time sitting still and being respectful. Maybe some kids could do it at three?

I wouldn't take my kids to an open casket funeral - or if I did, I would sit in the back and not walk them past at the end. I know many adults who won't go to open caskets. I don't blame them; I don't like remembering the person that way either. I've only been to one open casket and didn't like it at all.

I don't know that I've ever attended a wake so can't speak to that.

I think I'd take the oldest child, and possibly the middle. If it were me, I'd definitely leave the youngest home with MIL. Sorry for your loss.
mamato2boys's Avatar mamato2boys 11:17 PM 07-07-2006
So sorry for your loss.

We went to three family wakes/funerals last year when my boys were 2,3,and 8--they all went with. I don't go up to the caskets so the kids stayed with me in the back half of the room each time. I was a bit worried about how my younger kids would behave. My mom told me this which I thought was a good point... The family members that had died all loved spending time with the boys; high energy and all. They would want everyone that they loved to be at the wake, regardless of their age/ability to "bahave" She thought that my grandmother especially would have been greatly upset if we didn't bring the boys b/c we were worried that someone there may think that they were too loud etc.

Each funeral home had several rooms that were not in use and my DP to those rooms when the boys needed to release some energy, have a snack etc. We also brought a few books and small toys for them

I was also worried about them seeing me (and others) very upset. We discussed beforehand that some people are sad when someone dies b/c they will miss them and they may cry and be upset. Everyone seemed to do fine with that also; and it helped me a lot to have all my boys close.
emmaline's Avatar emmaline 01:42 AM 07-08-2006
all my boys have been to funerals at various ages, i don't leave them when they are young so they come with me or I don't go. Slinging and bfing are hugely helpful as they can be quietened so easily even at 12 mos, 2 yrs, whatever, but i am always prepared to leave if they are disruptive

at FIL's funeral 6 mos ago, they were aged 15, 7 and 2, the 7 yo was the one I worried about most as he has lots of trouble sitting still and tends to moan and whine but he managed to cope for the church service and did lots of running around at the wake, no one minded that he was boisterous, he loved his grandpa, grandpa loved him heaps and he had every right to be there.. IME elderly folks like to see babies and kids at funerals as it lightens things up when they are losing many loved ones and friends - that is the feedback I have had from many funerals I have brought my boys to

as for your sensitive dd and the open casket - that is something we have not had to deal with, though my boys did sit with dh adn I and grandpa as he died and we have been fielding questions about death and dying ever since, still I would not have expected them to look at him in a coffin
LittleBee's Avatar LittleBee 10:45 AM 07-08-2006
I took my children for the 1st time this year. They are ages: 10, 8, and 6 yrs old. It was an open casket. It was a friend of mine and dh' they were not so emotional. They had a few questions. We stayed in the back!

To the original wrote about trying to keep them in the hallway...we tried that and it is VERY VERY hard. Funerals get very busy with the flow of people in and out. If it is at a church, you might ask if they have a nursery you could use and bring some movies, snacks etc (and maybe bring a babysitter or relative). Then you don't have to be "far away" and DC doesn't have to view the funeral!!! GOOD LUCK!! and I am very sorry for you loss mama!!!!!!!!!!!
JoyofBirth's Avatar JoyofBirth 04:27 AM 08-29-2006
I just lost my brother. I can share what we found helpful. I have a 22-month-ol and a 2-month-old. I obviously kept Mattie (2mo) with me for everything. My older dd only came to the funeral. My sister has a 7-yo and 5-yo, my other sister has a 14-month-old. And they did the same thing. My brother's kids are 8, 6 and 3 1/2. They came to a private family only viewing to say good-bye and the funeral, but not to the public wake. We were all together as a family and noone could have watched them elsewhere. I did have a couple friends come nad watch my kiddos so I could have my dh during the service. My dd did well for almost all of it. I explained things to my dd a couple after the accident. She was picking up on all the sorrow and wigging out a lot. Once I told her that it was a sad time and everybody would be crying and it was okay when we cried, that she should just hug whoever was crying, she did better with the whole thing. I think kiddos can handle more thna we think. I would say avoid an pen casket sort of thing for the little, if possible. And do whatever you feel most comfortable with during this time. So sorry for your loss.