Funerals/wakes

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Funerals/wakes
11
Tue, 04-08-2003 - 10:08am
Do you think 10 yo is too young to go to a funeral and/or wake? Anyone have any experience with their 10 yo?

My aunt died yesterday and my son wants to go. I am sort of hesitant because my sister mentioned that when she went to a wake and funeral as a kid, she had nightmares for some time. My sister isnt going to let her kids go also. Although her oldest is 8 and mine is 10. I am not going to have my 2 youngest go (8&5) but on the fence with the 10yo.

I am torn because I know it will bother him either way. It's not like this can be done again. This is basically his chance to say goodbye.

So what does everyone think?

Thanks Julie

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Tue, 04-08-2003 - 10:52am
First I want to say how sorry I am to hear of your aunt's passing.

I would have to take a couple of things into consideration before I made a decision.

1) How close was he to your aunt? Was it a close relationship or did he see only once a year? That would make a definite difference in my opinion.

2) Also, how likely is HE to have nightmares or be truly bothered by it? I don't mean just upset when he sees others crying, but truly bothered by seeing a deceased person,etc. for maybe months to come? If you think it will bother him then I'd come up with another way for him to say goodbye. Maybe he can plant a tree in her honor somewhere or write something that the minister could say at the service.

Death is sad, there is no way around that. You know your child best and just because it gave your sister nightmares doesn't mean it will bother your son. If you decide to let him go, have a very long talk with about what will be happening, what a deceased person looks like, that there might be crying,etc.

Also, it's been my experience that the wake is usually less stressful then the actual funeral. Wakes here are like a party with people visiting and much less crying than at the funeral and burial. It's also much easier for him to avoid seeing the body, leave if he becomes upset, etc. than it would be at the funeral.

I don't think 10 is to young if it's a close family member or friend and you think he can handle it!

Sherri

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-22-1999
Tue, 04-08-2003 - 11:39am
So sorry to hear of your aunt's passing. I think that he is old enough, and since *he* wants to go, I think you should probably let him. Like you said, it can't be done again. Forcing a child who doesn't want to go would be a different situation, but since he wants to, I think it's appropriate. We had to attend an out of town wake and funeral for DH's grandfather several years ago. DS was 6; DD was 3 1/2. They went with us. They never had any ill effects or nightmares. Of course, at the wake we spent most of the time in the "lounge/parlor" whatever they call the room that the families can go to for a break. They did see Grandpa, though. We had told them he would look like he was asleep. I'm guessing DD didn't really get it at the time, but DS did.

Like Sherri said, you should talk to him about what to expect there. Also, you'll want to be prepared to share your family's beliefs about death, etc. If it hasn't come up before, they may easily have lots of questions to ask. Even your younger ones who don't attend may have questions.

Also, my grandmother died when I was 6. I remember being at the wake, but I don't think I went to the funeral. We went for a short time to the funeral home for the wake, and then a neighbor took us home. I remember seeing her in the casket, but no nightmares or anything. In fact, I think it was a good thing for me, because kids have weird thoughts like, "what if she wasn't really dead, they just thought she was, and they buried her?" Trust me, weird kid!! Anyway, seeing her did bring closure (not that I realized what it was) and I knew she was really gone.

Good luck with your decision.

Janet

Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Tue, 04-08-2003 - 2:53pm
My aunt/godmother passed when ds was just 5, and we made the 300 mile trip to see the wake/funeral. He'd met her a number of times (we visited my parents about 5x/year and almost always visited her while there as well), and was somewhat 'close' and liked her a lot. At age 5, it was difficult to get him to totally understand what things were all about, even though I definitely talked to him ahead of time. He obviously didn't understand when he poked fun of how she was laid out in the coffin at the wake, but then after being admonished, he grew very quiet when he realized she was really gone and not just laying there like that for fun. At the funeral, he cried to himself, enough that others heard, which got everyone else crying - I think part of it was understanding the finality and some was just being confused and frightened in not really grasping everything (or maybe he did). He talked about death for months afterwards.

Anyway, we then went to our old nextdoor neighbor's wake a year ago when he was 9, and he had no problem at all; never mentioned it afterwards. Same with this year going to one of dh's sister's husband's dad's wakes. I think most of it has to do with maturity and understanding. If I had to do it over, I'd've done it the same way; I was exposed to funerals and wakes at about age 2 and really did ok; my parents were just great about explaining things.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Tue, 04-08-2003 - 2:58pm
Hello... my grandmother died in March. I wasn't about DS going, but then he told me he wanted to go, so he came with us. He was glad he went and so were we. I think as long as you talk about any concerns or questions he has that he'll be fine. Especially since he expressed wanting to go, he should go. Funerals don't have to be scary. Explain that death is a part of life and it's not something to be afraid of. Good luck.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Tue, 04-08-2003 - 3:23pm
Thanks everyone. I think I will take my son. I spoke to my mom and she told me that she thought I should. And I learned and so did my sister, that my sister didn't go to my grandmother's funeral as a child. My mom had said that was the one thing that she regretted was that she didn't take her.

Anyway thanks, it helps to hear others opinions/thoughts. Oh by the way, now I am wondering whether I should just take the other two (5 & 8) --any thoughts on them?

Thanks again.

Julie

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Wed, 04-09-2003 - 6:28am
If he wants to go, let him go. Death is part of 'life' and something that kids need to face and accept at some point. Tell him what to expect (and what you expect of him, behaviorally) and then let him go. Kids need closure, they need to say good-bye, they need to be part of things. My kids (1 1/2 and 6 at the time) went to my grandmothers funeral ... well, it was more of a memorial service (no open casket or anything) ... and it was important for me that they were part of the process as they were part of her life. Recently, the mother of one of DS' friends passed away, and we took DS (11) to the funeral ... to show him the importance of being there for his friend. I guess I just don't think we can rightfully shelter our kids from everything, and since this is a natural process in life (especially if this was an older person) then they need to be part of the process. It's not an easy thing for anyone, despite the age, but if you handle it right, it will also set the tone for how he views death in the future.

Nancy

  Nancy

 

Avatar for drivin
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 04-09-2003 - 8:56am
Hi,

I am just lurking here, but I have an alomst 11 year old brother and I think I can give you a bit of insight. Two years ago, when my brother was nearly 9, our grandfather, whom we were EXREMELY close to, passed away. He and my other brother and I stood in the receiving line at the funeral home for both sets of visiting hours (2-4 PM amd 7-9PM). He handled it extremely well- I think it was also hard for him because he shares a name with our grandfather, and people would come up to him and say, "Oh, you have the same name as your grandfather", and it kind of put "pressure" on him. Anyway, I must say that he was a lot braver than I was. He had gotten to the funeral home before me with my mother, and he came up to me right away and asked if I wanted to see our grandfather. I wasn't ready, but it seemed like the most natural thing to him to walk up to the casket. He wasn't scared in the least!

I guess it depends how close he was to your aunt... when I was younger than 10, I think I went to 3 funerals/ wakes... one for my uncle (he was only 41!), one for my great- grandfather (94!), and one for my great- uncle. I can't remember having nightmares, but I think that was because I could remember seeing these people alive- I think that if I wasn't close to them, it would have been stranger beause I couldn't picure them living.

HTH,

Cathy

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 04-09-2003 - 9:55am
Thank you. I am going to bring him. He will have to go again at some point in his life probably sooner than later so I guess this is a good starting point for him. I just hate to seem him so sad.

Julie

Avatar for workinmom91
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 04-10-2003 - 12:03am
No,10 year old is not too young. My children (11 and 7) always accompany my dh and I to family funerals. I believe that this is especially a good time for the entire family to be together.

My older DS went with me and my DH to my good friends funeral when he was 4 years old.

He says he remembers it. He recalls that my friend was buried by the beautiful lady

(a statue of the Virgin Mary)and that I cried alot. But he also says that he knows that I am happy that my friend is in heaven.

If we pass by the cemetery, he says, "Are we going to visit "?" at the cemetery? I am Hispanic and going to the wake and burial seems as a very natural thing for us to do as a family. I would never dream of not allowing my children to attend.


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 04-10-2003 - 9:29pm
Thank you. It's reassuring to hear. I think he will be ok. My only thing is that if he starts crying, I know I will surely follow. That's not a bad thing but I try so hard not to.

Julie

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