Hi Readers: I was just very impressed by this boy’s sense of sorrow, connectedness and respect. While I don’t recommend kids defying their parents’ rules, sometimes, as they say, it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. Anyway, here’s kbbssbiktf
what I’m talking about, from the MSNBC website:
Jared Flanders faced a dilemma Wednesday evening: He had heard about the firefighter who was killed while looking for victims inside a burning building last week and he wanted to pay respects, but at only 11 years old, Jared wasn’t allowed to go outside by himself and he had no one to take him.
Jared, who lives in Worcester, Mass., ultimately decided to defy his father’s orders and go to firefighter Jon Davies’ wake. He carefully put on a coat and tie, hopped on his bike and went down to the funeral home, about a mile away, reported NBC affiliateÂ WHDH.com.
Jared didn’t know the fireman, but he knows the pain of losing someone: His older half-brother fought in Iraq and died this summer, said Jared’s dad, Gene Flanders,on his Facebook page.
Jared sounds like a boy any parent would be proud of. (So does his half-brother.) Also sounds like he’s ready for some new rules — like letting him go out of the house on his own. — L.
I hope that (in addition for some conversation about rule-breaking) this child earned the pride and respect of his parents.
Saw this on the news last night here in MA., and I think these parents should be proud… after all, he dressed himself up, and tied that tie alone!! What a great (and empathetic) kid…
Off topic, but I want to thank you for this blog as it has helped keep my sane and provides a very nice contrast to my mother in law’s paranoia. I mentioned to her today that daddy did school drop off and she asked if he walked 7yo DS into the school. I told her no that Daddy went through the drop off line like I do daily. She went off on a rampage about how someone could snatch him. Like that is going to happen. They get out of the vehicle next to a crossing guard, they walk 30 foot down a sidewalk under the watchful eyes of a teacher who is guarding the door. Personally I would like to drop them off a few blocks away and I think in the spring we might start doing that.
This boy is pretty amazing. I love this excerpt: As for his tie, Jared said he learned how to tie it from a book called, “How to Be the Best at Everything,” from which he also “read how to fly a helicopter and how to make a flute out of bamboo.”
I just love this story. I live in Worcester, MA and the whole city is just so proud of this boy. The fire department was so touched that they let him walk in the procession and ride in a fire engine. I only hope I raise my boy to be this thoughtful.
His parents have done a great job. I am sure they are very proud of him.
I strongly believe that learning when and how to disobey rules is an important part of growing up. (http://tinygrainofrice.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/on-freethinking-choice-religion-and-parenting/) While breaking rules does have consequences, I hope his parents take into account the reason why he broke the rules, and the responsible and respectful way in which he did so. I’m proud of this kid; I can only hope that, by age 11, my own child will be aware enough to find something important that he/she considers worth (safely) breaking my rules for!
I like it when kids think for themselves. I’ve always told mine that they’re free to disagree with me, but I want them to be able to say why. They’re young enough they haven’t changed many decisions, but at least they end up understanding more of the reasons for various rules.
I have a hard time being pleased with a kid for disobeying his father’s explicit orders. Maybe that’s just because I have one kid who has a “good reason” (in her mind) to disobey just about anything you tell her. Oh, I didn’t think you wanted me to fold *these* clothes because… I thought it would be ok to put the good knives in the dishwasher because… I had to get on the computer even though I’m grounded because… Because of that constant battle, my first instinct is that kids should be expected to obey their parents, even if they think they have a good reason not to.
Of course, the other side of that coin is that the rules need to be reasonable. If something is up to the kid’s judgement, it doesn’t need to be a rule. And, of course, rules are up for discussion (as long as it’s not AFTER the disobedience.) IMHO, forbidding an 11yo to leave the house alone does not fall within the parameters of “reasonable.” At least, not in most cases.
What a compassionate boy. I very much feel for his family’s loss. What a lesson to take away, though, that expressing condolences is worth taking a stand for.
On a related topic, I do feel that including children in the rituals of mourning is very important. There seems to be a lot of resistance in letting children attend funerals, wakes, etc. But my experience has been that children can appreciate these rituals without being frightened, even at a young age, and their presence is a good reminder of the interconnectedness of generations. We shouldn’t shield them from these opportunities to participate in important life cycle events.
I live in Worcester and read about this story in our local news, and I immediately thought of free-range kids. I’m so impressed by this young man. He’s a small ray of sunshine during the dark days since Jon Davies passed. Thank you for sharing this story.
This news article made me think of you: http://www.ksl.com/index.php?nid=148&sid=18513674
“The program is called Playworks. It’s a collaborative effort that teams schools with the non-profit group to try to make sure recess is a positive, meaningful use of kids time – one that better prepares them to do well in class.”
I think we have things backwards when we worry so much about preparing our kids for class instead of preparing them for life!
lenore, I thought this was you for a min….
It’s sad that it should seem normal for an eleven-year-old not to be out alone. I fully expect my kids to be capable of being out on their out at this age, as they will be going to senior school and shouldn’t need chaperoning everywhere.
I’m guessing the shared parent was the mother. If tha father made the rukes like that….
What this kid has was gumption. I hope and pray there are more kids like Jared in the world.
My free-range daughter delivered her first eulogy at the ripe old age of five. This was entirely her idea, and she formulated and executed it perfectly without guidance or input from any adult, including me.
At the time, there was a disagreement between myself and her biological father who, on the advice of a so-called child psychologist, insisted that my daughter not be allowed to participate in the death and subsequent memorialization of a woman who was like a second mother to her (the woman was the closest possible family friend, and she died a gruesome death caused by breast cancer). It would be “too traumatic” for a child of such a young age to be exposed to all that, they both declared.
My daughter had other ideas, and I let her run with them. It was extremely important for her emotional and spiritual development that she be allowed to participate in this event. Death is a natural part of life and to be denied the opportunity to honor and grieve is not natural. This is true regardless of age.
I agree with Michelle Potter, a child is supposed to obey, PERIOD, no matter what. Period.
On the other hand, the rules need to be reasonable. An 11 year-old isn’t even allowed to leave the house? Oh please. 11 is PLENTY old enough to go down the road a mile on a bicycle. I somewhat applaud him for blowing a big raspberry on this helicopter parenting nonsense.
“Blowing a big raspberry on this helicopter parenting nonsense” is something I will try to use in a sentence today.
Hope the actions he took prevent this from happening later on…
I don’t see why he could not have just asked his parents if he could go and then they would let him go? Why is this news?
Jessica: An 11 year old is old enough for a funeral, wake or memorial service. That does not mean all kids of any age are.
For one thing I would be downright offended and bothered if young children (babies, toddlers, preschoolers) were at a funeral I was responsible for. I definitely would not have invited them or asked them to come. I don’t want to have to put on a brave face for a child so I don’t scare them with my weeping. I don’t want a child to have to see that. Children definitely don’t need to see dead bodies.
So I don’t agree. Ever hear about 3 faces of Eve? True story. Mother made the little girl kiss her dead grandmother at the viewing and it caused the first reported and documented case of multiple personality disorder. That act was the trigger the psychologist found out. So no, dead bodies and small children are big no nos. I will defend that to the death (pun intended).
Older children are fine, but I don’t want little ones running around and crying or laughing etc at such a somber and serious event if I am the one paying for the funeral.
I remember when my babysitter died when I was six. By the age of six, this was not even close to the first funeral I had attended and I knew how to behave. I had been to other church funerals because my mother was in the choir and I would usually sit with another church member or even in the church parlor and keep my own company until the service was over.
When my babysitter died it was different. I was very sad, but I knew what a funeral was for and I was not afraid. For a long time, my mother would tell me how I introduced her to the lady who lived across the street from my babysitter – I saw her practically every day, but she had never met my mother. And with my best company manners, the way I had been taught by my mother, grandmother and babysitter.
“Mama, this is Mrs. Anderson, she lives across the street from Mrs. Hawkins. Mrs. Anderson, this is my mother Mrs. Smith.”
They were both stunned a little but they smiled and praised me for being “a little lady”. I was only doing what I had been taught and I knew my babysitter would have been proud of me.
I was not particularly precocious – we just expect far too little of our kids these days. As for a child not being able to attend a wake or funeral alone at age 11, it’s simply absurd.
Sorry for the double-post but I just read the article – the most ridiculous part of the story is that yet again, it’s the story of kid over 10 who can’t be out alone without the police getting involved!
I’ve been considering becoming a foster-parent but the unofficial rules of parenting are disuading me more than all the other difficulties combined. I’m going to have to give this some more though.
And that may be fine for YOU and YOUR CHILDREN, Dolly. I, on the other hand, believe that PARENTS should decide what their children are capable of and not the person paying for the funeral. A funeral isn’t a wedding where guest lists are made and invitations are sent out. Unless you are a celebrity, funerals are generally open to anyone who wants to pay respects to the deceased or the family – child or adult; friend, family or stranger. Children who cause a ruckus should not be there. Children who act respectful and want to attend should be welcome. And who cares about infants if they remain quiet? They don’t even understand what’s going on.
Dolly, are you serious? Bringing up the 3 Faces of Eve? Chris Costner NEVER blamed her disorder on such an experience. If you knew anything about her and her case you would know perfectly well that she says the personalities were with her since birth. A lousy funeral experience had absolutely nothing to do with it. Stop following the Hollywood versions and pick up a book.
As for the case at hand, I have mixed feelings. Part of me is so proud of what this kid did. Another part of believes children should follow rules and instructions. If there is a problem with said rules or instructions, a kid has the right to question it and a good parent will listen and consider. So while I am proud of this kid, I think it might be time for kid and dad to have a talk and decide how to run things from now on.
As for funerals, I would never put an age restriction on them. Parents of course should be responsible for much of their children’s behavior, but everyone, kids included, grieve in their own way and you can’t always predict what a kid will do.
Donna: Bull funerals are dictated by the one signing the checks. If that is me, I can say who is and is not allowed and I damn well plan to! Some adults are not going to be welcome too because they are jerkholes, so I am not just discriminating against kids. Any funeral I plan will be private and invitation only.
I don’t see the reason for small children to be at funerals. As you said, they don’t know what is going on, so why bring them? What is the point? Our best friends had a death in the family and I babysat their infant daughter so they could attend the funeral alone. They knew they would be crying and upset and figured it best their baby not see that. They are amazing parents and wise parents for making such a unselfish decision. She actually said it would have made her feel better to have her baby there and missed her, but she knew it would only upset the baby to see mommy crying so she did the right thing and let me watch her so instead of tears all the baby saw that day was smiles while we played with her.
So if you want to plan a funeral and you are signing the checks, yes, you can allow small children. If you are not the one paying for it and it is not your job to make such calls (meaning it is not your immediate family), then you should probably check with the immediate family and ask if they mind if you bring your child. It is just common decency and manners to do such.
Would you bring your kid to another kid’s funeral? I am sure the last thing the parents want to see is a laughing smiling child while their child lies cold in the coffin….. There are MANY instances where children have NO business being at a funeral. It is so selfish to not check with the preferences of the immediate family on that account.
Wow, Dolly. Just wow.
Wow, Donna. Just wow.
Sorry, Dolly, but I’m with Donna. While you’re right it’s best to check with the one in charge of the funeral, in itself there is nothing wrong with kids attending a funeral. And don’t even try to tell me it causes some multiple personality disorder.
backroad: it definitely caused me problems. My mother made a bad judgment call when my grandfather (her father) died. They had me sit at that viewing all day for hours and hours. I was bored as kids are. I was about 6. I also had to stare at that body for 6 hours straight. Stuck in a room with that body and nothing else but some chairs. No thanks. I would NEVER put my kids through that. I still remember it vividly to this day. You know the funny part?! I don’t remember much actual interaction with my grandfather even though I had plenty before he died. I just remember that body in that coffin. And that sickly body in his sickbed.
I really wish she kept me from seeing those things so I might actually remember him playing with me or smiling or talking to me. I try really hard to remember a good part of his life and I can’t. I would rather not remember anything about him that his sickness and death. It certainly did not a damn good thing for me. I won’t make the same mistake for my kids.
I also think you should respect the immediate family and if they don’t tell you to bring your child, you probably shouldn’t without asking them first. A baby crying or a kid running around or shrieking could really disturb mourners during their time of grief.
I don’t even think it’s always necessary to check with the person on charge of the funeral. The funeral isn’t about that person. It’s about paying respects to the deceased person. ANYONE who wants to pay respects to the deceased should be welcome. I may not like my some of mother’s friends, but I certainly have no business telling them that they cannot attend her funeral, regardless of their age or my views of their jerkness.
I would check with the person throwing a funeral if I need to bring an infant or small child with no connection to the deceased. I do not feel it necessary to check with the family to bring a child who has a connection with the deceased and wants to pay his/her respects.
What if a child wants to attend the funeral? What if a child wants to also pay his/her last respects? It’s not fair to say all kids under 13 are incapable of doing so.
Dolly, your experience is an unfortunate one, but you still had the ridiculous notion that Chris Costner’s issues were caused by a funeral AS EVIDENCE of why kids shouldn’t attend funerals.
I doubt a 3 year old ever wants to attend a funeral or pay their respects. For one thing 3 year olds only want to go anywhere if there is going to be toys or a playground there. Secondly, 3 year olds don’t know that pay your respects means.
Be honest and tell me what young child has ever asked to attend a funeral? None that I know and I know A LOT of kids.
“Putting on a brave face”
Why do you have to put on a brave face at a funeral for the benefit of a toddler? My twin girls died at 2 weeks old, when my son was 2 and a half. After they died (they had a terminal illness, and we took them home, and cared for them in hospice), my son was there to say good-bye, was there to see the funeral home come, was there at the graveside service and at the memorial service. He saw both my husband and me cry. Why should he not? His life remained consistent, as did his schedule for the most part, he got the love and support he needed; we answered his questions. I think that we have decided that somehow our children should not see that we are human.
While I agree that parents should constantly fight in front of children and that there are certainly topics that our wee ones don’t need to worry about until they get to a certain age, the humanity of grief, joy, and even anger, should not be something we hide. We do not burden our children with figuring out how to be our crutch during times of crisis, but we can allow them the dignity of empathizing with us and accepting what comfort they will inevitably wish to offer.
Kids grieve differently from adults, and we must as grown ups respect that process. As my son has made developmental and cognitive strides, he has revisited his sisters’ deaths along the way. He will ask about it, make connections, etc., and it will come out of the blue when you least expect it. What I appreciate about it is that he feels free to think about and explore his thoughts and feelings with me and his dad, rather than being afraid that it is some sort of taboo.
And at the funeral? He sat with his godmothers, which allowed my husband and me the freedom to be present at the service, not looking after a toddler. He also behaved himself very well. I will concede that that behavior decision must be made on an individual basis. But I just don’t think that we give kids enough credit for handling life.
This does not have to be a big debate. I was just throwing in against what Jessica said that I don’t agree funerals are always a good thing for kids especially small kids. I stand by that.
Donna: If you want to allow your mother’s friends you didn’t like to pay their respects, that is your choice. You could also not allow them if you are the one planning and paying for said funeral. That is just the facts of it. It is still essentially a private event since someone has to pay for it. There are very good reasons to not allow someone at a funeral. If my husband died tomorrow his family would not be invited to the memorial service I held. I hate his family. They have never done anything for me but hurt me. The last thing I would need is more hurt when I am already grieving my husband. So if they want to pay their respects they would need to host their own memorial service because they are not attending mine.
So, Dolly, you would not let the parents of your husband attend the burial of their son? What is this? Share bodies around?
And, once again, Dolly has hijacked the comments and it’s become all about her trauma/drama.
As for the boy in the article, I think there are a lot of things going on there with age, rules, grieving, and loss which his Dad might want to talk about with his son. But overall – no harm, no foul from my pov.
backroad: We are a cremation family so there never is a body. But even if there was, his body belongs to me. Biblically and legally. Husband and wife are one and we belong to each other.”Flesh of my flesh” and all that.
Honestly, I would not even tell my inlaws if he died tomorrow. I don’t speak to them and they don’t speak to me and just because my husband died is not going to change that fact. If they wanted to be told and included in such things they probably should have been nicer to me.
Dolly – seek some professional help!!
Dolly, I do know a small child who asked to attend a funeral. My cousin’s 5-year-old daughter asked to attend her great-grandmother’s funeral (my grandmother). Another great-grandmother of hers had died a few months earlier and her parents didn’t take her to that thinking she was too little. She told them she was sad she never got to say good-bye and wanted to say good-bye this time. She behaved herself at the funeral home, at the mass, and later when the family went out for dinner to toast a great lady’s passing. She’s a teenager now and was not emotionally scarred for life for attending a funeral or seeing a dead body.
Again, wow Dolly. You really should explore the mental health coverage on your insurance.
An 11yo that can’t ride/walk down the street to a funeral…that’s just so wrong.
As for the debate about funerals. In my family (on both my mom and dad’s sidea) and in my husband’s families it would be considered the height of rude to NOT bring the children. It’s expected that ALL family be there if they can. If there’s a legit reason why a kid couldn’t come (super emotional or something) they understand but otherwise kids are expected to be at the funeral to support their family. I went to my first around 8.
My oldest daughter’s first funeral was at 10 weeks old. My mom had died and there was no way I wasn’t bringing her only granddaughter to the funeral. She wasn’t the only kid there. She wasn’t even the only infant there. My cousin’s son was a week and a half older and cried through most of the memorial. It didn’t bother me at all. It was a reminder that in death there is also life. Of course, my mom’s sisters were sitting behind me cracking jokes the entire time (stuff that would have made my mom laugh). They had everyone laughing by the end.
The next funeral my kids went to was when my husband’s grandmother died. They were 2 1/2, 17 months and 4 months. We actually missed the church service (we were traveling across 2 states) but made it to the graveside in the middle of March. A month later my father in law died and my kids attended that funeral, too. They sat up front with the family and behaved perfectly through the entire thing. They weren’t upset about my husband crying or their gramma or any of the other adults. They understood something sad had happened and their family was sad. They tried to comfort us. They were a great comfort to everyone.
I refused to go to the wake, though. The whole thing brought back memories of my mom dying and it was just too hard. I decided to stay home for it and keep the kids with me. My sister in law went ballistic and insisted I come so that the kids could come (they needed me to keep an eye on them so they could visit with family and friends).
I can’t imagine not bringing my kids to a funeral of a family member or close friend and if I was ever told me kids weren’t welcome I’d just not go and I’d be offended if people didn’t bring their kids to one I was “hosting” simply because they were kids, especially if those kids were close to the person that died. And when I die I expect every kid in my life to be there.
justanotherjen: You can’t expect anything when it comes to other people’s kids. If they didn’t want to bring the kids for whatever reason that is their call and you should respect it.
bdh and Donna: Maybe you should seek professional help since you think anyone that does not think exactly like you or conform to your standards needs professional help.
Dolly, the point isn’t who agrees and who doesn’t. The point is you derail practically every thread on this site with your drama and your pontificating. Your classic troll behavior of posting inflammatory messages with the goal of provoking readers into an emotional response and/or disrupting normal on-topic discussion is getting very, VERY old.
Dolly, I couldn’t care less about your views. You do, however, insist on bringing up numerous dramas, damaging events, childhood grudges, hatred of relatives, etc in just about every thread. We’re not your therapists and really aren’t that interested in your life.
Teaching children an understanding and respect for the circle of life, from beginning to end is a healthy, loving lesson for them. Being present to celebrate births and to celebrate the life of love ones that have passed on helps children learn to cope with the realities of life. I have always attended funerals, I shared in the mourning and the celebration of life for as long as I can remember and as an adult I have the strength now to be there through the process of helping loved ones walk through their last steps in life without it immobilizing me.
Putting a blanket rule on age or venue and applying it to all children is disabling, as some children simply are not ready for certain situations and some are beyond their years. It may be “easier” for all involved to just avoid difficult situations, but life isn’t always easy, and pretty, and censored. Every child is an individual, and as parents isn’t it our job to identify what life experiences they are emotional ready to handle?
Funny you say that because all your other opinions on this topic is that what you want will stand. As in you don’t want kids at funerals you pay for and it doesn’t matter what the parents of the kids want. Interesting.
Then again, you’d probably have a heart attack at one of the funerals in my mom’s family. We had a memorial service for her when she died. Then after we all went to my aunt’s house and had the hugest, loudest PARTY the family had seen in years. We had a tent out back, a keg, mixed drinks, music and lots of laughing. And crying. We remembered the life she lived, not her death. It was a lot of fun and I can’t imagine not having all of my family around for it. I’m pretty sure the only ones dressed in the traditional black attire were my cousins and aunt on my dad’s side (which was tradition in their family). My mom’s family were all in their regular clothes and it wasn’t overly somber with people wailing and carrying on.
There was a lot of laughter and good memories. We started the tradition years ago. I remember when one of my mom’s older sisters died. All of her grandchildren (between the ages of infant to 6) were sitting on the floor in the front of the funeral home. They even got up and told stories about their gramma. It would have been an entirely different affair without all the kids there. That was 12 or so kids under 6 and all of them handled it just fine because death was never hidden from them and they weren’t taught it was something to avoid or be afraid of. It was just a part of life and they were able to share their grief with their parents and cousins. And then we went back to the same aunt’s house and had a huge party with lots of singing and laughing and some crying as we remembered her life.
But I guess I forget that most people treat funerals like something awful to be avoided and censored. I’m glad none of my family is really like that. Everyone is welcome to come no matter how old they are and black attire is not required. And there’s usually a pretty damn good party after.
@Alex – thank you for sharing your family’s story. I can not imagine how painful it must have been for you, but hope that I would have the strength you showed in allowing your son to see you grieve and to grieve in his own way over time.
Amazing example of how supporting children, rather than attempting to protect them makes them capable and stronger in all life’s situations.
Dolly I agree that making a 6 year old spend 6 hours at a viewing is going to be hard on a 6 year old. I wouldn’t do that to mine. But that’s different from taking a child to a funeral, which I consider to be entirely appropriate if the child had a relationship with the person.
Good on this young man. My own kids have gone to funerals, and viewed bodies, since they were preschoolers, as for one half of my family such things are very normal. There is weeping and wailing at some of these events, but that is culturally normal (Maori are one of the many groups worldwide who pack as much grieving, and celebrating too, into a short time following the death), and the kids have never been bothered by it – they were more concerned by the noises the Chinese dragons make at New Year! Most of the funerals have been positive celebrations of lives well-lived too.
My son was eleven when he too insisted on going to the funeral of an older friend of ours. The rest of the family were out of town, and we two were supposed to be joining them that day (a seven-hour drive away on fairly rough roads), so I reluctantly thought we would have to miss it, but he made such an eloquent case for needing to represent the family there that I felt I should go along with it, and I was so glad I did. Kids sometimes do know better than we do what is needed at a given time, and how to express grief – particularly if they have been brought up to see it as a normal part of life.
Death of elderly people is a part of normal life. Death of a child or sudden accidental death is not normal or a part of the cycle of life. I would be more inclined to include children in a funeral for an elderly relative who lived their life and died at their time compared to say a 14 year old who died when they slipped and fell down the stairs breaking their neck. Or a 10 year old who committed suicide like that little girl did a couple weeks ago. Or a stillbirth baby.
Very good examples of funerals and body viewings that would horribly upset children and might not be such a good place to bring them. My kids are so close to my mother that if she died tomorrow, no way in hell would I ever let them see her body. That is just not right. They would have to deal with her death either way because she in not here anymore, but that is way different than watching their mother who they see as their strength falling into pieces in sobs while their beloved Mimi lies cold and unmoving in a casket. No way.
I have been to several funerals and while I dislike them, I don’t avoid them or sweep it under the rug. There are just some things kids don’t need to see or deal with. When someone is grieving the last thing they need is a crying baby or a toddler running up and down the aisles spilling OJ on everyone and dropping cracker crumbs. Well behaved kids might not be a problem. The above examples would and the problem is you never know how a young child is going to react in certain and especially new situations such as a funeral and that is why it is better to maybe not bring them. Like I said before, if they are too young to really get what is going on, then why have them there in the first place?
Maybe because it’s the done thing in your culture? And as for funerals for babies, my kids have been to the funeral of a baby, and while they were obviously sad, they were there to show the parents, one of whom was my son’s youth leader, that they felt for them. They insisted (all three of them) on viewing the wee girl – because she was stillborn it was the only time they would get to see her, and how else would they be able to talk to the parents about their beautiful child?
At this particular funeral the casket was open and the congregants were invited to come and see Baby before the formal part began. I went up with them, and two of the kids’ friends came with us, as their parents (my best friends) are of another culture which is a lot less accepting of death, and they were reluctant, even in their forties, to view someone who’d died. They were more than happy for their kids to join us, however, as they did not want their children to grow up with the same hang-ups.
Death, regardless of the circumstances, is part of life, whether it’s the death of a baby, a suicide, tragic or a cause for relief and celebration, as my father’s death was (he hd bone cancer, and a very long, protracted and painful death). There is no point or need to shelter children of any age from it. When it comes to viewing bodies, if a death has resulted in particular trauma to the body, the casket is closed anyway – so children, and everyone else, are only veiwing ‘normal’ bodies. In what way can the child be harmed?
And that is fine for your family, Dolly. The outrage wasn’t over you making that choice for your child but insisting that you should make that choice for ALL children because you are paying for the funeral.
I have a very different stance. If my mother died tomorrow, my child would be at the funeral. She would be given the opportunity to say “good bye” and join in the ritual of mourning for her loved one. Personally, I think it’s wrong to have the loved one simply disappear and to be excluded from the formal mourning process based on age. You can disagree but your writing of the check should not over ride my beliefs as to what is best for my child.
Amen, Donna, amen…
Wow, this just shows how different cultures celebrate the end of a life. Wakes with sitting for 6 hours is something I have never experienced.
When my boss died of cancer, his funeral was the most rocking one I have ever been too. He was in a Do-wop band in the 50s, and the surviving members came and sang, with electric guitars. There was lots of gospel music. It was very much a celebration of a life well lived despite being cut short. There were lots of kids there – and toddlers and babies. They joined in with everyone else singing. It was the least sad funeral I have ever been to. Not all funerals are about crying.
Other funerals I have been to have been more traditional I suppose. When I was working at a daycare, a mother driving her daughter in the rain slid on the wet road into a pole. The mother ended up in a coma. Her 3 year old died. Some kids from the preschool did come with their parents. Mostly we were all sad that the mother did not have a chance to say goodby to her daughter because she was still in the hospital in a coma. No one remarked that kids were there. They were her classmates after all. They had every right to know what had happened and that she was not coming back.
I suspect that the young man who is the subject of the story did not feel that he had the closure that he needed after his brother died. As his brother was killed while in service, chances are the funeral was closed casket, and over a week or more from the actual time of death. While this one was probably also closed casket, I suspect that while he felt he was helping the family, it was probably also very helpful for him to get the closure that he probably needs, by honoring another hero, one like his brother.
I took my 14 month old to my grandmother’s funeral. Otherwise I could not have attended myself, since everyone I knew who might babysit was also attending the service. Daddy was a pallbearer.
Dolly — he toddled across the aisle between me and my husband a few times, drawing smiles which would have pleased my grandmother no end. But there was no OJ or cracker crumbs — it’s a funeral, for heavens sake, and even at that age he was perfectly capable of making it through a 45 minute service without food. If that’s the sort of behaviour you see in your circles, some parents need to show some respect.
And yes, he saw me cry. Not the first time, not the last. Doesn’t seem to have scarred him for life.
I applaud this kid for wanting to pay his respects. Too bad his father couldn’t have listened and re-considered the stay home rule before the child felt he had to break it, because I really can’t applaud that.
@Dolly– I am speechless. I am without speech.
OK, I’ve regained my ability to communicate in order to tell you that when my father died my niece (age 7) asked to see the body (we are Jewish, there is no scheduled viewing) and touched his arm and said goodbye. My sister (her mother) was crying very emotionally. My niece felt that she had closure; she understood that her mom was grieving and sad and that is part of life. All of the grandchildren (ages 4 & up) were at the funeral and every one of them understood that death is the end of life, something to acknowledge and that sad feelings are ok for everyone, including adults.
In a respectful way, I suggest you get some help.
@Cheryl – yep, we all do do things differently, I guess. A tangi, which is the way Maori people traditionally farewell the dead, is usually three days long. There is a form of wailing that is considered respectful, and if you happen to be on your knees or in another uncomfortable position when someone (always a woman) begins, you are in trouble, because you are not supposed to move until it’s finished, and it can last a looong time! People coming from away, and the immediate family, and actually anyone else who wants to, all sleep on mattresses in a big hall along with the deceased, who is usually in an open coffin (the immediate family sleeping around them). I always found tangi and the urban equivalent easier than the funerals my ‘white’ family put on, which were very formal affairs where nobody was supposed to cry, and you never saw the person dead, so it was quite hard to relate to the fact that they were actually dead.
My Maori grandmother never actually gave anyone in the family any choice about seeing my grandfather, who died when I was six. She just told me that if he hadn’t hurt me when he was alive, he could hardly do so when he was dead! Wasn’t worried about it at the time, have never worried about it since. No trauma at all, Dolly. And I have been blessed, in the forty odd years since, to have been allowed to say a respectful goodbye to many people of all ages……I would never, obviously, insist on seeing someone, as that is absolutely up to the relatives to follow their particular customs, but personally I do find it brings closure faster, and just seems more resectful…..
And Cheryl, the ‘do-wap’ funeral sounds wonderful! What a great clebration of a life! Cheers…
Why is everyone jumping on Dolly? She expressed her opinion, as others have. The only reason there is any drama is because everyone keeps going back to what she’s expressed and arguing it. Just leave it and express your own opinions without personally attacking someone else and suggesting they need psychological help. What good does that do? I’m kind of on the fence with the whole issue. I think bringing very young children (who are too young to know what’s going on really) to a funeral only make sense if it’s something the rest of the extended family really want and the parents feel their child will be able to handle it alright. When they are old enough to to understand what’s going on and WANT to go, then it is fine to take them if they behave themselves. (As in being like mini adults – quiet, composed, respectful.) Everyone mourns differently and I think if your spouse or parent died, you certainly have the right to have a dignified funeral if that is your wish and it’s OK to ask that young children not be brought. It is about that person’s loss, not someone else who wants their child to see death. In the case of an earlier comment about a 3 year old dying and that child’s little classmates attending, I think that’s going a bit too far. If my 3 year old died, it would make me feel worse seeing all their little classmates there who are so young to really understand what’s going on and act respectfully quiet. At 3 it won’t hurt them NOT to go. It’s better to be respectful of the parents. Now if they were specifically invited to come, then sure. (Although I think it would be more upsetting for a 3 year old to see a dead classmate then to simply not see them again. At that age they move on pretty quick when friends move away and such.)
Kevin, I think what set people off is Dolly’s insistence that if she’s paying for the funeral, she gets to dictate who can come (is she going to post bouncers at a funeral?) She refuses to acknowledge that funerals and calling hours are public events regardless of who’s paying for them, provided they’re publicly announced. She doesn’t want it to be that way, so in her mind, it’s not.
I strongly disagree with her on the appropriateness of any and all children at any and all funerals, but I wouldn’t find that as objectionable if she didn’t take such an extreme attitude on her own rights to dictate what every one else does at someone else’s funeral. She seems to forget that when someone close to her dies, the funeral is not FOR HER but FOR THE DECEASED and *everyone who wants to pay respects to the deceased* provided they aren’t disturbing the peace or otherwise causing a problem larger than “I don’t like you and I don’t want to look at you because it’s all about me.”
Also, it gets annoying when someone starts explaining why a perfectly well behaved eight year old shouldn’t attend any funeral ever because a spoiled 3 year old with less than stellar parents spills orange juice and cracker crumbs at the funeral home. The point should at least be argued logically.
Kevin, fewer people would probably suggest the need for mental health for Dolly if she didn’t dominate nearly every thread with her own personal traumas and issues, all of which are generally only tangentially, if at all, related to the topic at hand.
Dolly would get argued with much less if she could actually manage to state her opinions as “I’ve had bad experiences with children at funerals and, therefore, will not take my children to funerals” instead if her broad, sweeping Dolly had an unpleasant funeral experience as a child so she has now deemed funerals as inappropriate for all children therefore everyone else must fall in line and do it Dolly’s way and all children are forever banned from funerals associated with Dolly regardless of circumstances because Dolly knows best and must be in control at all times.
Sorry if that bugs you, but yes, I can plan a private funeral if I pay for it. End of story. I won’t let them print an obit till after the service is already over with. Only people who will know day and time is people we tell. If anyone else shows up we don’t want there they will be asked to leave. If they don’t leave, we will call the cops. Sorry if that bugs you, but it is what it is. Private property means you cannot come without permission or you are trespassing. That is what the obit is. It is like permission to attend by publishing it in the newspaper. If there is no obit, then there is no permission.
You do not have to be a celebrity to have a private funeral. It is not commonly done, but it is absolutely something you can do.
The funeral is not about you if you are not the one planning it. The immediate family are the ones who lost the most thus why they are the ones who plan it. They are the ones that get the say. If they don’t want you there, then you should not be there. If someone told me not to come to a funeral, I wouldn’t. I can pay respects to someone many ways besides attending a funeral. Such as donate to charity in their name.
Hineata: Do your children never have nightmares? I sure did when I was a kid. Just about every kid I know has nightmares. Seeing a dead child could probably cause some creepy nightmares.
Thank you Kevin. The voice of reason.
I am not narcissistic enough to think everyone has to think like me. I know they don’t. That is okay. I may think they are wrong, but its their life. I think the only ones that need counseling are the ones that think everyone must think exactly like they do or that person MUST be broken.
Dolly, a funeral is not about the people who are planning it at all; it is about the person who has died. It is to honor that person’s life and is supposed to be about what that person would want. That is why funeral arrangements are an extremely common part of a will. Several of my family members have told what they want to happen when they die. I feel bound to try to make those things happen, even if not what I want, if possible because their death is not about me, my needs or my wants.
@backroadsem It would have never occurred to me in a million years to make a call to the “one in charge of the funeral” to see if it was OK for me, or anyone else, to come. I’m not even convinced I would know who exactly was paying for the funeral – the surviving spouse? one of the deceased’s children? All of his/her children splitting the bill? what if the deceased had a funeral trust and there’s really no one in charge or paying for it?
Dolly, remember that most people end up reaping what they sow. Personally, I would be very cautious about excluding people from their own loved ones funerals because I simply don’t like them. Especially as a parent who, like every parent who doesn’t practice arranged marriage for their children, could find themselves with in laws who hate them and excluded from their children or grandchildren’s funerals.
“Hineata: Do your children never have nightmares? I sure did when I was a kid. Just about every kid I know has nightmares. Seeing a dead child could probably cause some creepy nightmares.”
There are worse things in life than nightmares. One of them is growing up never being able to cope with death when it comes into your life. And they can be caused by lots of perfectly good things, so “it might cause nightmares” ought to come pretty far down on the list of why not to do something, if there are other good reasons to do it.
I’m not saying every child should go to every funeral of every person they know in every situation, or that nightmares aren’t an unpleasant thing that should never give a person pause to consider whether a decision is a good one. But “it might cause nightmares” isn’t the be-all and end-all of decision-making for your kids, when there’s a stark reality going on in your, and their, lives. Hineata described a generally good, and healthy situation, and to respond to that with “It might have caused nightmares!” is to really miss the point. It’s almost like talking about what could have happened if you’d turned your back on your kid for two seconds or let him go outside to play.
“The funeral is not about you if you are not the one planning it.”
It is never about one person. It is about all the people who cared for, and want to pay their respects to, the deceased.
I understand private funerals, yes, but to specifically exclude people as close as parents to the deceased, unless it was the express wish of the deceased, is not your moral right, even if it is your legal one. Again, it’s not about how they treat you, it’s about their relationship to the deceased *as they and the deceased* perceived that relationship, not about how you want or wanted it to be.
And I meant to mention this earlier, but using the word “biblically” in the same paragraph where you defend your right to decide whether people will be treated with minimum decency based on how they treat you — does that not strike you as a little odd?
Donna: But that is the point….it is about what the deceased wanted. My mom does not want my inlaws to try to come to her funeral so they would not be allowed to come. It would be my job to keep them out. Sometimes it is the deceased who doesn’t want the excluded people there. I have my will made out and I actually made my wishes known about a private funeral and who is not allowed to be there. So if you are excluded you may never know if the deceased wanted it that way or the immediate family. Either way, respect their wishes.
Pentamom: I agree in general with your response. Let’s just look at it this way, I don’t want to have to be up in the middle of the night comforting my child because they had nightmares so that is good enough reason right there for me. You probably don’t let your kids watch “Nightmare on Elm Street” or “Fright Night” or “The Exorcist” either because of the nightmare potential. The funny thing is my parents let me watch lots of horror movies as a kid and they never really bothered me. But the funeral of my grandfather and having to look at that body for hours. Yeah, that bothered me.
Donna: I will take my chances with my future DILs. I plan on kissing their butts from moment one so it will probably work out. My inlaws did not practice such butt kissing and instead decided to backstab me and insult me at every chance. So you know, big difference. If I did to my DILS what they did to me, I freaking would expect and deserve to be excluded from not just a funeral but everything in their lives.
“You probably donâ€™t let your kids watch â€œNightmare on Elm Streetâ€ or â€œFright Nightâ€ or â€œThe Exorcistâ€ either because of the nightmare potential. ”
Yes so that’s missing the point. Going to a funeral of a loved one is not like watching a movie. A movie is totally optional entertainment that should never be anything other than a wholly positive experience. A funeral is, or can be, at least in some situations, an experience that a child needs even if it is difficult and causes you inconvenience later.
@justanotherjen: Those sound like the funerals on my dad’s side of the family. Everyone gets the sadness and grief out at the service, and then we all meet up at a relative’s house to share stories, laugh, drink, and of course, toast the deceased with a shot of Irish whiskey!
Today my son had a birthday party. A friend’s mom asked if the son (5) could come early, as she was taking one of her daughters (8) to the funeral of her friend.
The friend was killed last week when her mother mistakenly thought that she was in the car and proceeded to back up, over her child. Horrible, tragic, and of course, I am not including all of the details here as I don’t want to debate about it now. It was a horrible accident that could happen to anyone.
My friend’s daughter had shared a cubby with the girl at school. They had gone to the same preschool together. My friend’s daughter had every right, and I am sure, NEEDED to go to that funeral, as much as other family members needed to be there.
I commended my friend for taking her daughter, in part because of parents here saying they wouldn’t take their kids. It has been a rough week for the whole school, community, and of course, the family of the deceased child.
This morning, the mother a friend of my 12 year old daughter emailed. They just found out the pain in their daughter’s leg is most likely cancer. They had a biopsy done this week, and are hoping to hear that it not malignant next Tuesday. But the doctor is not very hopeful. At best, it sounds like this girl will be losing her leg, at age 13. That is, if chemo goes well for this type of cancer.
Yes, death of a child is rare. But it does happen. It is good for kids to know that they should cherish their time here. That it is ok to grieve, to be sad, to cry. Death should not be the focus of life, but it should not be sanitized and sealed away so that kids do not know that their reactions to it are normal.
At 8, a child is old enough to know what’s going on, understand their friend died, and want to grieve. I think the question is, when are kids old enough to understand and BENEFIT from a funeral? If you keep a 2 year old from great aunt Lisa’s funeral, is it a bad thing, since they really won’t understand what’s going on and they will likely get bored and perhaps create disturbances? Is that sealing it away from them or just using common sense? If you have a very sensitive 6 year old, should you make them stay for hours at a funeral home simply because the family all wants to be together even though it is upsetting the child? It’s an individual choice and one that we should all respect each other that, as parents, we will try to make the right ones for our children. I grew up and was fortunate enough not to have anyone close to me die before I reached college age. So I never went to a funeral until then and yet I could deal with it fine. So the argument some are making that we must expose our children to death or else they won’t know how to handle it as adults seems a bit unfounded – at least in my situation. People are resilient and if they don’t learn to deal with death as kids, they’ll pick it up later. 😉
Death exposes itself to children. I took my 2 year old, 4 year old and 7 year old to the funeral of my grandmother. My husband did sit with the younger ones in the back, in case he needed to take them outside because they couldn’t sit still. But, although they usually exhibit signs of being boys (talking, antsy, need to move) they did sit quietly during the service. My daughter sat up with me, with the close family. We gave the kids the option of looking in the casket, but didn’t force it.
How do you know that “sensitive” 6 year old will not do fine if not forced to look in the casket? She/he can still interact with the rest of the family, and that is really what it is all about – remembering the person, and comforting each other.
I was denied the ability to go to my mother in laws memorial. Family wanted to do it fast, and I couldn’t get tickets until the following week. It still makes me very sad that I couldn’t go and have my chance to grieve with everyone else. And the delay would not have been a big deal – she donated her body to science, so there was no casket or such, just a memorial. I was denied my chance by others who thought they knew better, just like when a parent denies a child.
Cheryl…how true, “death exposes itself to a child.” The sad fact is that there is no real such thing as “natural” and “unnatural” times to die. Throughout human history, people of all ages have succumbed to freak diseases and random accidents and injuries. I don’t think there’s a point in keeping them from children. And as I pointed out in another thread, the thing about death is that it really is a mystery to everyone this side of the veil. No one knows for sure what happens (although many people have strong beliefs), other than the person goes away and never comes back, which is pretty much how you’d explain what’s happening to a little kid.
“So the argument some are making that we must expose our children to death or else they wonâ€™t know how to handle it as adults seems a bit unfounded â€“ at least in my situation.”
Well, as I said, you have to go on a case by case basis. I was not insisting that all children must go to all possible funerals or they will not be able to face death — I was responding more to a broader attitude that exposing any and all children to funerals is just too traumatic and will scar them. I was just pointing out that things cut both ways — protecting them too much from realities connected with death is also bad. In any given situation, you have to weigh things, but an attitude that goes all one way or all the other will have bad effects. The parent who believes that death is just too scary for children even to get too close to lest horrible things ensue, is reflecting a very different attitude from the one who says, “There may be a time when my child should attend a funeral, but not now or in this situation.” Sort of like the whole Free Range thing, in one example: “kids shouldn’t play outside alone because it’s dangerous” is a different attitude from “my child is too young,” or “my neighborhood has frequent shootings,” or “my child has shown a tendency to do very foolish things and is not ready yet,” etc. The one who says “Funerals are always too traumatizing” or “it’s not safe to play outside probably *is* raising an ill-prepared child; the one who says “not now” may not be.
Kevin, there is a HUGE difference beween not exposing children to death because the situation doesn’t arise and excluding them from the mourning process due to age. I don’t think you need to hunt up funerals for dead strangers to attend with your children. An adult who was never exposed to death as a child because it simply never occurred to someone they knew well can learn to process death in a healthy way when finally faced with it. They are not going to have to overcome baggage surrounding death. I am more skeptical of the abilities of an adult who had several loved ones die during childhood but was excluded from the mourning process to be able to deal with death in a healthy way as an adult. They’ve already learned that death and grief is a scary thing that should be hidden.
@pentamom: usually we are pretty much on the same page and I completely agree that the comparison between attending a funeral with attending a horror flick is ridiculous. Though I was sad for weeks after Bambi’s mother died.
But I can’t let your comment that movies are only entertainment and viewing one should be nothing but a “wholly positive experience” slide. There are all sorts of thoughtful and thought-provoking films out there, some of which raise unsettling questions. Clearly parents need to pay attention to what’s developmentally appropriate, but should we really be sheltering our kids from movies (or books, for that matter) that might disturb them?
Bambi’s mother being just one example…
“There are all sorts of thoughtful and thought-provoking films out there, some of which raise unsettling questions. Clearly parents need to pay attention to whatâ€™s developmentally appropriate, but should we really be sheltering our kids from movies (or books, for that matter) that might disturb them? “‘
Throwing books in there changes the question entirely, since once can learn all sorts of things from books without ever turning on a movie. My personal view is that I watch movies entirely for entertainment, and if I never see another movie again, I will be no intellectually or morally worse off — just like all the well-educated people who lived prior to about 1920. That’s not to say I never learn anything from them, but no, I don’t regard them as an indispensable growing experience for a child OR an adult. That doesn’t mean I think a child *should* be sheltered from all movies with anything disturbing, but that if they are, they haven’t lost anything — provided they experience that growth through other means.
“I am more skeptical of the abilities of an adult who had several loved ones die during childhood but was excluded from the mourning process to be able to deal with death in a healthy way as an adult. Theyâ€™ve already learned that death and grief is a scary thing that should be hidden.”
@Dolly – Thanks for your question. I’ve found everyone’s ideas really interesting. Regarding nightmares, no – the kids have nightmares at times, but have never reported nightmares regarding bodies they’ve seen. The kind of wakes (we call them tangi usually) that I talked about above are fairly relaxed affairs, and you get to sit and chat to the person if you want to, or hop away and talk to someone else, and the occasions are usually fairly social. There are also, by-the-by, usually other kids around too. Not sure if wakes are like that. I see that you might have had a problem as a six-year-old if you were forced to sit and do nothing but stare at your grandfather for 6 hours straight.
Kevin, I think it’s wonderful that you went until you were college-age until anyone significant in your life died – I see your point about the fact that you were still fine. For a variety of reasons, including the size of our extended family and significant differences in health outcomes for different ethnic groups that they variously belong to – gosh, I still sound like a teacher, even during the holidays! – we seem some years to be surrounded by death! Just want to raise the kids to see it as a normal part of life. But no, if it wasn’t happening around them at times, I certainly wouldn’t hunt down dead people to show them, LOL!
BTW, my fifteen year old son read this over my shoulder, and wanted me to tell you all that he has indeed been severely traumatised by the things I’ve exposed him to, and that teen suicide and homicide went up following the televising of Sir Ed Hillary’s funeral (the mountaineer, aged in his 80’s when he did pass away ), but seeing he has now run off outside to play basketball and tease the heck out of his sisters, I can only assume he’s talking through the proverbial hole in his head :-). And we’re only in the first couple of weeks of holidays, sigh….
Hineata, your son raises a point, one that I am not sure how society should deal with. I have been told in the past, when teaching, that when a teen (particularly in our rural area) commits suicide that there tends to be “copy cat” suicides. The theory runs, that other depressed teens see the attention focused on the one who committed suicide and go for that also. Ten minutes of fame type of thing, even if they aren’t there to see it.
That said, a teen at a local high school jumped off a grain elevator this fall and died, but there were no copy cats. Perhaps the schools and mental health people here are more on the ball than where I used to live, not sure.
But it is not attending the funeral that contributes to the copy cats. It is the attention paid in school and the community. Small communities may naturally pay more attention due to the limited number of people.
Now, I have no actual facts to back any of this up. Just what I was told when I was just out of college and still believed what the “authorities” had to say.
@Cheryl – I think I know what you mean, though my son was being facetious. I’ve read some of those studies too. It’s hard to know what to do, isn’t it? I’ve talked to the kids over the past few years about suicide (my own kids, not the ones I teach, as I teach real littlies). We have had some horrible rashes of suicides here at times, and some do seem to be copycats – but the funerals, as you say, don’t seem to be the cause of the copycatting. The tiny handful of funerals of ‘suicides’ I’ve been to have tended to emphasise the anger of those left behind, and the futility of the act. The talking in the community like you say seems, anecdotally, to be the problem.
I don’t think you’ll ever, sadly, completely eliminate suicide 🙁 . I wish we could……
Good dialogue we got going on here. Your comment above Kevin was very well put.
Ultimately I do believe it is a “not yet” experience regarding funerals for very small children. My sons were 3 last year when my grandfather died. They did not attend the funeral with a closed casket. I didn’t think they would sit still and I am not the type of parent to make my kids ride in the car for two hours and then have to sit still and be quiet at a funeral. I try to be realistic about what they can do behavior wise. If it was around the corner though I still would not have taken them as long as I could have found a babysitter. There is just nothing they could add to the experience so why have them there?
Maybe because the only funeral I attended as a child was my grandfather’s where they made me stay at the viewing for 6 hours is why I am so against small kids at funerals. It was a bad experience and the only one I had. I probably would have been better off if I was left out of that. I did not mind the actual burlal. It was the sitting at the funeral home for hours while the family greeted people with the body there that was just awful.
I am going to add that after I made the point of getting a babysitter for my kids (my mom drove an hour to watch them and she wanted to attend the funeral but gave up on attending to watch the kids because we thought that was more important), I would have been pissed if someone else brought young kids to his funeral and then they acted the fool. I was trying to pray and reflect on my grandfather’s life and a kid acting the fool would have disturbed that. That is why I didn’t bring my own kids. I would have been just dealing with them the whole time and would not have been able to reflect on my grandfather’s life. I might as well stay home if I had to bring them. Sometimes it is about the parent thinking about what THEY need.
Just because they didn’t attend the funeral does not mean the death was not dealt with.I sat them down and tried to talk to them about it. As much as a 3 year old can understand. No one needs to see a dead body to know someone is gone. My faith is strong enough I know where they are, I know where their soul has gone. I don’t need a body to know that. I was grateful his casket was closed. I don’t like seeing people that way. I would rather remember them alive.
We went out to eat with the family afterwards and shared good memories of him. That was more important than any funeral.
And, again, Dolly that was a choice you made that you believe was right for your family. Nobody is disputing your knowledge of your children and your ability to make those choices. Many disputed your expressed view that that is the proper decision for every family and that you have the right to make that decision for everyone because you are paying for the funeral.
There are MANY things in your scenario that I would do differently. Neither of our choices are wrong because we are different people with different families and different priorities. That is the concept that you seem to have a really hard time accepting – that others are different than Dolly and make different choices but that doesn’t make those choices wrong for them.
And honestly if someone had brought a child that distracted you – either because they couldn’t get a sitter or because they wanted their child there – sobeit. Your grandfather’s funeral is about everyone who loved him, not just you. You may gather comfort having your children away and quietly reflecting on your grandfather. Others may gather comfort from having their children near. Nobody should have disruptive children at a funeral, but you have to deal with the “distraction” of well-behaved children that you may not want there. Making allowances for others is part of living in society where we are all allowed to be different.
My dad is the youngest of 13 kids and my mom is the middle of eight, so there have been plenty of funerals in my life. When I was a kid, I went to every single one. I didn’t misbehave, because my parents had taught me to sit still. Also, the majority of funeral homes tend to have lounge areas where you can escape for a bit and recharge. During calling hours, the kids would tend to migrate to the lounge to talk or goof around, so they’d be out of the earshot of the adults.
If my parents had ever left me at home during a funeral, they would have certainly felt judgment from my family. It was important that as many members of the family be at a funeral to show their respect for the deceased. Leaving a kid behind would have been seen as incredibly disrepectful, like that kid didn’t love the deceased family member or something.
buffy, you’re absolutelty right. RSVPing to a funeral or asking permission is a little strange. I think I meant that comment in reply to some of Dolly’s comments.
My issue with Dolly’s statements is that she used an untrue anecdote to make her case and uses funerals as tools in personal vendettas. When one is strict about who can and can’t come, then the funeral becomes selfish. That is NOT what funerals should be about.
Donna: As the immediate family, I do have a right to be pissed and upset if someone brings a kid to my grandfather’s funeral and let’s said kid act the fool. I absolutely would have said something to them along the lines of “Either control your child or leave.” If the kid is seen and not heard and not bothering anyone, I would not care. If it was fussing, running around, knocking stuff over, I would have been livid.
Funerals are no different than bringing a kid to an R rated movie or a fancy restaurant and letting them act up. You don’t have to be there. You can miss a funeral just like my mother missed my grandfather’s in order to watch the children (it was her ex FIL so while she knew him she was not immediate family and I was). The world won’t end if you don’t go. So regarding that I find it really rude to show up with kids and let them bother others. If they can behave, fine. If they bother others you better skedaddle right on out of there.
That is actually a pretty free range old school ideal that kids should behave or not be there period. That is how my grandparents did it with their kids. This idea of kids having to be everywhere and having to be indulged pisses me off.
Dolly, I don’t disagree that children should behave properly at a funeral, hence my comment about not having to tolerate disruptive children. That is NOT what you’ve been saying in this thread at all. You’ve repeatedly stated that ALL young children should be excluded from funerals, not that disruptive children should not be there. Huge difference. Most of us probably agree that disruptive, poorly-behaved children don’t belong at funerals (or just about anywhere else in my opinion). Few of us agree that ALL children don’t belong at funerals because they are too scary and traumatizing, something you’ve said repeatedly.
As for whether you have to be at a funeral it not, that will depend on the people involved. There are several funerals that I WILL attend regardless of anything else. There are other funerals that I would like to go to if arrangements can be made, but would not be devastated if I could not. However, comparing a funeral to a movie or restaurant is simply ridiculous and just negates your point.
“No one needs to see a dead body to know someone’s gone” – @Dolly, I agree that some people don’t need to. Myself, I always find that it helps in the whole process. It’s not a ‘need’ exactly, just helpful.It’s just upbringing, culture, ethnicity, whatever.
Out of interest, are you and yours just one ‘ethnic group’? I also have a strong faith, but because of the fact that I am bi-racial, and my kids at least tri- (I have suspicions about my husband, who claims to be a full-blooded ethnic Chinese but whose hair is curlier than mine, LOL!), except for what is written as absolute in the Bible, and surprisingly few things are, my kids navigate a world where everyone does things very differently from everyone else. They have learnt not to make many absolute statements, because such statements simply don’t often hold true. As a small example sort-of relevant to this topic, my mother would consider it an insult were we not to visit our relatives’ graves – my MIL (Buddhist) considers it actually dangerous to visit graves. The children simply do what is relevant to the occasion, and to whoever they’re with. Similarly my MIL has learnt not to offer them food she’s sacrificed to idols. With my Maori Nana’s last remaining sister, now well into her 90’s, built like a Sherman tank and having a similar personality, LOL, the kids just do whatever they’re darn well told!
The point of the above? Just that kids fit into the world around them – the world wasn’t made to fit them. And that very little is absolute…..
P.S. As a teenager on exchange in Tahiti years ago, I had occasion to be really grateful that my parents had made open caskets seem normal growing up. On Christmas Eve my host ‘sisters’ and I were told to get dressed up as we were going (or so we all thought) to a ‘party’. Imagine my surprise when the ‘party’ included an elderly man in a casket….We were, in fact, off to attend the Tahitian equivalent of a wake! That was the first of 3 ‘wakes’ I attended during a six-week stay…..
I’m curious as to why children shouldn’t see their parents cry or be overcome with grief. I don’t think kids are going to lose respect for their parents if they see them being emotional. On the contrary, I think it teaches kids that everyone has emotions and there are times in life when you just need to let things out. Seeing mom cry at her father’s funeral lets you know that it’s okay to cry when you’re sad. Seeing dad in the hospital after a heart attack lets you know that everyone is mortal and everyone is suspectible to health issues. That’s life. It’s a little scary sure, but when you’re part of a family, that’s the stuff everyone in the family has to deal with.
Hmm, you know, I suspect that the funeral homes should take a lesson from the wedding planners. For both events, family usually has to travel long distances, and both evens have moments when people need to be quiet and listen to others to show respect (in most cultures.)
I have noticed a trend in weddings to have hire a baby sitter to have in a back room so that noisy babies and active toddlers have a place they can go where they will not be disruptive and the parents (who traveled all that way) can go back and enjoy the wedding.
If funeral homes did the same thing, the crying baby or the active toddler would not be an issue anymore and all the adults could get on with what they need to do. Alternately, if mine were still small, I would consider hiring a sitter on my own, to take them outside if needed. Sitter could sit nearby and take the kids when I signaled.
Very good point and idea Cheryl. If helps when you have lots of family who can take turns taking the kids outside to walk around and stuff, but not everyone has that (me included) so I don’t feel okay taking them to a long viewing that goes on for hours with nothing fun for them to do.
I am talking about small children here. 0 to 5 ish. If a 2 year old sees their parents hysterically sobbing, that might frighten them. They see their parents as their rock and their strength and to see their parents very upset, could disturb them. My kids at 4 get very upset if they see me the least bit upset. It is good to not always hide your emotions in front of your kids, but totally losing it in front of your kids is probably not a great idea. If you are not sure if you can reign in the hysterical sobbing in front of your kids at a funeral or cannot be sure no one else at the funeral might start hysterically sobbing, you might want to not bring them. That can even disturb adults sometimes, so you know it might disturb children.
I would lose it at some funerals and those would be ones my kids would definitely not attend. I have a hard time controlling the boo hooing sometimes.
For the record, hineata, we are all white with similar upbringings.
We have arranged for family friends/relatives from a different branch of the family (someone who knows the kids but didn’t know the deceased) to watch nonlocal kids, who weren’t ready to attend a funeral. On one occasion the parents of local kids arranged for a non local cousin to go to school with his cousins during the funeral. Then all of them were picked up to go to the wake.
The funeral was in a church the kids were not familiar with and a much longer ceremony than they were used to. It wasn’t their response to the death that was an issue. It was their ability to sit through the service. Kids the same age from that religion did attend. They were used to the service length.
“If you are not sure if you can reign in the hysterical sobbing in front of your kids at a funeral or cannot be sure no one else at the funeral might start hysterically sobbing, you might want to not bring them. That can even disturb adults sometimes, so you know it might disturb children. ”
And again, it’s not a given that “being disturbed” is the worst thing that can ever happen to a child, let alone an adult. Your kids, your call, of course, but just understand that not everyone believes that “being disturbed” is the worst thing that can happen to a child, and that some “disturbance” might be a legitimate price to pay if you believe that having the kids there is overall positive.
In some cultures (probably most, if you did a count) it’s positively normal to be extremely demonstrative in grief, and no one believes it hurts the kids. So again, if that’s your concern for your kids, fine, but you’re not going to get very far arguing that no kid of a certain age should ever be at a funeral (not his own grandparents? Parents? Siblings?) because of YOUR feelings about what’s disturbing, how important it is to protect them from that, and so forth.
Kimberly, the reason you give, with your kids not being familiar with the situation, is a perfect reason why having a paid sitter available would be a good thing. It would allow them to go out for a bit, but parents could stay.
When my kids went to my grandmother’s funeral my husband sat in the back so he could take them out if needed. Somehow, they managed to control themselves, but I was rather shocked that they did so well. Having back up nursery or sitter care would have been nice to know that we could fall back on if needed.
The boys were about 2 and 4 at the time. They did go up and look in the casket. They were sad because they had seen her alive, but very sick, just a few days before. But no, no nightmares, not even any questions about “what about you?” I think that they did hear and understand that she had lived a long and productive life, that she touched many in a positive way, and understood that although we were all sad she was gone, she had lived a good life well worth living, despite hardships along the way. It was good for them to hear that about life, and in turn, death.
Honestly, I was pissed at my brother’s girls though. They were about 13 and 15 at the time, and had been skipping school. They had skipped so much they were in danger of failing. My brother made them go to school. I on the other hand, felt it was important for them to be there, as part of the family. Had I been in charge, I would have let them suffer the consequences of skipping school by doing summer school because they missed one last day to go to the funeral. That they didn’t plan ahead for Grandma dying is not the point – they should have been going to school all along anyhow, then it wouldn’t have been an issue.
I have very early memories. When I was four my great-grandmother died. Recently-ish I was speaking with my grandmother, and she was surprised about just how much I could recall about my great-grandmother. I also stated that I was saddened by the fact I never got that opportunity to say goodbye (to me our death rites are very important, but most important of all is the opportunity to say good-bye). It was deemed, so I discovered, the funeral would be unsuitable for us due to our age. Perhaps we would have required a “sitter” (having an adult not in the immediate family to look after a child during a funeral, taking them out if needed etc is recommended in many books about death/funerals and children), perhaps not. We cannot ever know.
“Throwing books in there changes the question entirely, since once can learn all sorts of things from books without ever turning on a movie. My personal view is that I watch movies entirely for entertainment, and if I never see another movie again, I will be no intellectually or morally worse off â€” just like all the well-educated people who lived prior to about 1920. Thatâ€™s not to say I never learn anything from them, but no, I donâ€™t regard them as an indispensable growing experience for a child OR an adult.”
@pentamom — there’s been a lot of discussion since this comment and now it’s off topic, but let me clarify: my point initially was not that movies are indispensable. But broaden the horizons beyond pop culture, and you find a whole art form. “Throwing books in there” doesn’t change the question at all. One could learn all sorts of things from films without ever opening a book; or, for that matter, from life, as people did before Gutenberg made literacy possible for most of us. I actually think a person might be intellectually worse off by not including film in his or her experience, but I think that about not including music or painting or theatre, or philosophy, or any of the humanities, including, of course, literature.
My reaction to your original comment was to the statement that movies “should” be positive experiences. To which I perhaps should have simply responded — why? Do we expect other art forms to be that way?
Maybe I am just weird, but I would rather “Say good bye” when the person is still alive rather than at a funeral. I know when I knew my grandfather was very close to death, I drove 2 hours at night alone to the hospice facility to say my goodbyes while he was still alive. He died a couple hours after I left. That was my goodbye. Not the funeral.
You know, no one responded to my comment about keeping people out of funerals at the deceased’s request. So if the person made it clear before they died that they don’t want certain people attending the funeral, then is it okay to kick them out or not tell them when it is going to be?
I know I have told my mother and husband and best friend that if I die my inlaws are not allowed to attend in any way, shape or form. Since you all claim the funeral is about the deceased then that means I guess my wishes will have to be respected. Right? My mother said she didn’t want inlaws at her funeral.
â€œThrowing books in thereâ€ doesnâ€™t change the question at all. One could learn all sorts of things from films without ever opening a book; or, for that matter, from life, as people did before Gutenberg made literacy possible for most of us”
Not really. They learned from the people who had read books.
Anyway, my larger point is that I *personally* view movies strictly as a medium of pleasurable entertainment. I never watch a movie because someone tells me it will be uplifting or thought-provoking — that usually turns me off, because that’s just not the space they fill in my life. I in no way criticize those who view it differently; I’m just saying that I think it’s possible, and legitimate, to view movies that way. It is not because I want to shield myself, or any children, from all negative experiences; it’s just because I don’t think it important to get them from movies. It’s fine to do that; I just don’t think it’s necessary, and so I tend to avoid exposing my younger children to stuff in movies that I think will disturb them. I don’t find that parallel, though, to shielding them from *everything* in life that could be disturbing.
Hope that helps.
“You know, no one responded to my comment about keeping people out of funerals at the deceasedâ€™s request.”
That could be because nobody found anything to comment on. That’s entirely normal.
“Maybe I am just weird, but I would rather â€œSay good byeâ€ when the person is still alive rather than at a funeral. ”
That is not weird, but it is just YOU. It is not everybody. You can’t judge other people by that standard, or expect them to conform to it,because it’s something that people can be different on without being right or wrong, better or worse.
Pentamom: Well everyone was jumping on me for saying I would hold private funerals and not tell everyone about it and exclude people. Well, what if that was at the request of the deceased? Probably not responding to that because you have no argument to beat me on that.
Pentamom: I have to say I do think it is wrong to be one of those people that won’t go visit someone when they are sick and in the hospital and dying or someone who does not call or visit or have a thing to do with someone when they are alive, but once they are dead they are ALL about attending the funeral and putting on a big show. That kind of behavior is wrong and it makes me pissed off. My stepfather’s kids are a good example of that. For years they hardly ever called, did not visit at all, never sent birthday cards, etc. But I have a feeling they are going to show up when he dies and make a big production out of it. They did similarly when he had a bad accident and was in the hospital.
It does crack me up how involved we get when somebody dies, to “pay your respects”. Meanwhile, not even a holiday call while alive? What gives?
Completely agree Jinnellys. I think it has something to do with helping them with their guilt for not being there for them when they were alive. All the more reason while I won’t kiss their butt and let them show up at the funeral and act like they cared when they most certainly did not. My husband’s siblings have not called or spoken to him but like once a year. So the heck if I would let them show up and sit up front with family if my husband passed. His best friend sees him several times a week and has always been there for him. He deserves to sit up front way more than siblings do.
I have an aunt I was extremely close to as a child. As I grew older, I realized our idealogies were no longer in sync, so we didn’t have much to talk about anymore. I moved 500 miles away from my hometown near where she lives. I don’t like talking on the phone– even to my parents. This all adds up to me seeing/ talking to my aunt maybe once every two years. It doesn’t mean that I don’t love her, it just means that I don’t talk to her that often.
Would it be wrong of me to go to her funeral?
“Well everyone was jumping on me for saying I would hold private funerals and not tell everyone about it and exclude people. Well, what if that was at the request of the deceased?”
Because the reason you gave was that you, personally, don’t like them. If that wasn’t the reason, if really was actually the wishes expressed by the person whose funeral you’re talking about, fine.
Kiesha: It would not be wrong per se, but why not go visit her while she is still alive? That makes way more sense and would be more meaningful than just coming up to see her in a casket. Is email an option? I don’t like talking on the phone either, but I email people. Write letters. Send pictures. Just not communicating with someone at all and then acting all upset when they die is kinda hypocritical. I try to show the ones in my life that I care about them here and now, not once they are dead or sick.
Sometimes we do not have the opportunity to say goodbye prior to the funeral. Not everyone conveniently let’s us know they are dying. People can be snatched away through accidents and other unexpected events. One of my friends dropped dead in the middle of a sentence with no warning, an exceptionally fit and healthy 35year old. That memorial service was important, and the wake afterwards (we toasted his memory in every pub in the city, it was an apt memorial). Okay, that memorial wasn’t child friendly, but the service held back in his hometown was – his three year old nephew read some sort of eulogy out (Im not sure what he said, as I cannot speak Scandanavian toddler!). Everyone spoke how the funeral was important, because no one expected him to suddenly die.
Well obviously in that situation I can understand while you would feel you need the service to say goodbye. It still stands though that you also had a chance to show that friend you cared for him everyday while he was still alive.
My aunt doesn’t have a computer and is illiterate. I send Christmas cards. I do see her if I go home at the holidays, but I typically go home for a three-day weekend and see my parents and grandmother and friends in a neighboring city. Don’t always have time to see her unless she happens to be at my parents’ house.
Well even if I don’t like talking on the phone if my aunt whom I cared about could not read letters or have emails, then I would get over my dislike of the phone (which I actually do have when I have young kids with me because they bug me when I am on the phone), and call her once every 2 months or so and chat for a couple minutes. Its not a big deal and a small gesture to make someone feel good. If you don’t want to do it, you don’t have to, but don’t act like showing up to her funeral would mean so much when you can’t take a few minutes once a month or so to chat on the phone with her.
Dolly, that is a whole lot of judgement from someone who said they wouldn’t invite their in-laws to their own son’s funeral. Why don’t you give your high horse a break already. Get over yourself and grow up.
Heather: So what if I don’t invite my inlaws to any funerals I plan and pay for? I don’t like them. I would get no comfort from them being there. I make it known to everyone I talk to that I hate my inlaws. Therefore I am not putting on a show for anyone. I am being very honest which is something to admire. I refuse to hug them and cry on each other’s shoulders and say nice things to them when I hate them and they hate me. That is two faced hypocritical behavior and I won’t be a part of it.
I have every right to answer her since she asked me first thing. Secondly, it is two faced to show up at a funeral and act like you cared a lot about someone when you never made the effort much when they were alive. Another reason why my inlaws would not be invited to a funeral. They shun us and ignore us and avoid us, so why would I let them show up and pretend to care after a death? Too little, too late.
Dolly, given how absolutely judgmental you are of anyone who’s life doesn’t fit into your black and white ideas of how things should be I can absolutely see why you have such issues with so many people. If you have half as selfish and ugly an attitude about things as you show here I would easily believe that every problem you have, especially with your in-laws, is of your own making. I hope for the sake of your children they don’t suffer when you reap what you sew.
Heather: my kids are the best off of the kids in that family for many many reasons. For one thing, my kids have a crap ton more friends that show up at their birthday parties. Yes, our family is actually very well liked by many people. The difference being decent people like us because we are decent and we expect decency from others. It works. When you are losers like my inlaws, problems arise because I don’t take crap or loser behavior from other people well. Thanks for the concern though. My kids have more toys and more friends and more trips and more fun than any other kids in that family. They envy our family. Their envy turns into bad behavior and anger toward us and that is why we are where we are with them. Not my fault.
My elder daughter is upset she can’t get to the wake of a friend of ours. Basically, I’m going to be away from home for 3 days and 2 nights and my host doesn’t have enough room for a kid after giving couch space to 3 adults. We want her there, we just don’t have the room for her to sleep. I’m not about to let her sleep on the “other couch” in the same room with a man I do not trust (for my own personal reasons, not just cause he’s a man). That would be the only place for her to stay. I’m going to be on a small cot and will be lucky if I can get sleep. Simply put, there is no room for her.
Then there’s the latest fun I’ve had. My girls and I were visiting a friend’s place when her dogs needed to be walked. The kids volunteered and her husband, pretty much a complete stranger to the kids, offered to walk (was told to walk by his wife/my friend) with the girls for safety, since it was 8pm at night. My friend turned to me after the trio and dogs had left and pretty much said “how can you be sure about this? Aren’t you worried?” I looked at her and said that if even though I was scared, I had to trust them, and him with the girls, or else they’d live a life of fear.
This same friend was very concerned for my safety just a week earlier when I said I’d walk home from her place, in the dark, about 9pm at night. My safety? I’m a grown woman that has taken walks in the dark all my life. My walk was about 8 city blocks, downhill, on a lit sidewalk other than the half a block from her driveway. She was having fits over the thought of me being alone and made me promise to phone her the second I walked through the door. She had wanted me to be driven home by her husband (who had just had a stroke) or picked up by mine, forcing all my kids out of their beds for no good reason. I told her “if I am afraid of the dark, I am a prisoner in my own home.” She hemmed and hawed for a moment and then said that she saw my point.
Since that walk in the dark, I’ve taken to taking one walk a week in the dark/after 8. If I don’t, I show my girls that they should be afraid. My elder daughter has wanted to come with me a few times. The dark is scary and thrilling at the same time. I love it and has always loved it. I used to take walks at 1 or 2 in the morning, when the city is all but shut down, just for the thinking time when I had insomnia and it is some of my favorite memories.
Maybe I would show up to my aunt’s funeral because it would make my PARENTS feel better. She’s my dad’s sister and the aunt on that side of the family that I was closest to. (At this point in my life, I’m not close to many members of my family and enjoy it that way; doesn’t mean I don’t have fond memories of what once was.) Even if I didn’t want to go (because I’d have to pay to either fly back or drive, have to use vacation time at work, etc. etc.), I would do it to keep the peace in my family. My parents would probably disown me if I missed that funeral. Funerals bring no comfort to the dead; they bring comfort to the living. I agree that you can make a funeral as private as you want if you’re in charge of it. However, you need to understand that for OTHER PEOPLE sometimes it’s more important to ‘be a hypocrite’ and comfort your family than to be on some moral high horse and completely disregard how the rest of your family feels.
Kiesha: So if funerals are not for the dead, but for the living, then I guess I would be totally justified in not allowing people I didn’t like to come? Since they might upset me?
Did you read what I wrote? I said I agreed that if you’re in charge of a funeral, you can do whatever you want. My grandmother had only graveside services for my grandfather, stating that if people wanted to see him, they should have visited him while he was alive. I’m not saying that everyone will be happy with the situation or that I would do the same thing in your situation. Just that if you’re in charge, you can whatever you want and face the reactions, good and bad.
Dolly, you can but it still makes you an awful human being to ban parents from their own child’s funeral. Decent people don’t do that.
It would be a cold day in Hell when someone tried to ban me from my own child’s, whom i created and raised, funeral. That is the most cruel and selfish thing i have ever heard in my life. How could you possibly be so heartless? I hope, for your sake Dolly, that you get along with your daughter or son in law, because one day you may find yourself banned from your own child’s funeral. I think you just love to be the center of attention. When you commented on the deceased’s wishes and no one responded you just had to bring it up again and remind anyone because you just couldn’t stand that the topic had moved away from yourself.
On the topic of children and funerals, I have a five and two year old and if a family member died, I would give my five year old the choice to come if they wished. If they really didn’t want to go I wouldn’t force them but i would encourage that they go to the service. I wouldn’t push him to view the body at all, only would i let him if he wanted to on his own. Children are much more intelligent and resilient then we give them credit for. We think that they are these fragile being who will be irreparably damaged if they have an uncomfortable or unpleasant experience. Children are much more resilient then adults and can recover from even the most traumatizing of situations (not that a funeral is traumatizing). Now my two year old on the other hand, I would probably get a sitter for because i know my child and she is too young to sit still and not cause a disturbance. I wouldn’t keep her home for my convenience (not that there is anything wrong with that either:) I would keep her home out of respect for the other people attending. Death is as much a part of life as birth, marriage, etc. It happens to everyone and hiding from it will not make it go away. It will only make it that much harder to deal with. I dont agree with forcing a child to go if they are afraid or uncomfortable, however, if they wish to attend, then by all means let them. Children need to mourn and have closure as much as adults do. I think that anyone who wishes to pay their respects should be welcome regardless of who is paying. Private funerals I understand for when the family wants just close family and friends, but to deprive the persons own parents of flesh and blood the chance to mourn and say goodbye to their SON! That truly disgusts me.
Like Hineata; I am Maori and my children have been to many many funerals. They know the difference between a tangi where there is obvious grief and lots of family around to play with, and the european funerals, where we dress up and sit quietly, and the whole funeral is over in a day. They have seen their baby cousin’s body and grieved for him and they have seen their dead grandfather. My children are taught when to be respectful and up till they age of 3 there tends to be a great deal of tolerance for the noises any child makes while sitting for a time. If I was asked not to bring my children then I would make other arrangements but that would be frowned upon in New Zealand whether you were Maori or Pakeha (european). My Daughter however is with me as is her duty as the eldest daughter of the eldest daughter of the eldest daughter……..it is how it is done in my family