Should children attend funerals? 342



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We lost our Nanna this week, my husband’s grandmother and “Great Nanna” to my children. At 98 years old she has lived a long life filled to the brim with stories, family and love, and her body was no longer helping her, so whilst it is sad for us, it is probably the best thing for her to be up there in heaven with so many of those she loves. But this week we are confronted with the decision of whether our not-too-young children, her great-grandchildren should attend her funeral.

My own grandparents (long in heaven) always said to me that children were not appropriate at funerals. That weeping young things who didn’t know why they were weeping were distasteful and that watching others cry could be confronting for them too.

My grandparents were very traditional, respect-oriented people who wanted dignity and grace at such public events. Twenty years on from these types of learnings I now wonder whether we should be considering the opposite for the sake of my children, my husband and his parents.

My children are a responsible bunch, aged 12, 10 and 7, and given they didn’t know their Great-Nanna as the strapping young and healthy woman I have known for the earlier of the 20 years I knew her, nor the much healthier woman from the decades before, part of me selfishly for them wants them to be able to come along and see the wonderful stories that will be told about her life, and to celebrate her. I want them to feel the enormity of the life she lived and the person she was before they knew her. “Great Nanna” as they know her is the last of her generation on the Wilson side so there is a lot to say. We’re lucky to have had her as long as we have and I want them to understand that. Will they ever get such an opportunity again… no they won’t.

I also want them to be there as the happy-lively faces of the fourth generation of the family that until Friday night she was the matriarch of.  I think it might make a wonderful contribution to be there as that.

But I wonder if that is selfish? So today, for a let’s talk would you tell me what you would do in such a situation?

Would you want your grandchildren at your mother’s funeral, for the cheer, the memories, and the learnings they could have or do you think I should send them to school and go without them?

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. What a load of nonsense.
    What half wit said children shouldn’t attend funerals ?

    15 REPLY
    • i dont think anyone says no children should’nt go to funerals. but some kids cannot handle it,It can be very truamatic for some

    • i dont think anyone thought the children were stupid, it was just the way it was and yes, it was sad but that was a way of protection of the children in those days.

    • Patrick McCunnie that halfwit in all probability was your own grandparents the people of their generation did not think a funeral was a suitable place for a child …more change but it does not mean that if you hold that opinion that you are without intelligence.

    • I was 9 years old when I went to my dad’s funeral and I am glad they let me go. It gave me the understanding that dad was not coming back home

      1 REPLY
      • libbi ,i was 11 when i was at my fathers funeral,can still see the coffin going down behind curtains,i am grateful for the memory,mum,i was 8,never went,and have nothing to remember,very sad!!!

    • I was always resentful that I was not allowed to attend my beloved Grandmas funeral I was 13 & sixty years ago children did not attend funerals.

    • Definitely take them! Long ago in Scotland , no women at grave and no children. My husband died when my children were young and we women went but the children came to the “party”afterwards. I have always regretted this. They should have been allowed at the graveside:-(

    • Geez back in the olden days folks were laid out in their homes and they made kids kiss dead ppl.

      1 REPLY
      • They really did! Especially with an old grandmother who never was nice to you! Ahh! We had to sit there with nothing else to do but stare at this dead body! Just going to the funeral would have been nothing compared to this.

    • The whole concept of no children was that a young child most likely under 2 or 3 would get restless and start crying which was classed back then to be disrespectful to the deceased person and the family .My first funeral was my grandmothers I was 5 any funeral after that I was most likely at school but if it was a close relative than I had the day off to be able to go

    • I was born in 1950 and my grandparents thought it was inappropriate for me to attend my cousins funeral in 1963 – that was a sign of those days – nothing to do with my grandparents or parents being halfwits – it was just the way it was back then. It is up to the parents of today.

    • So true Lorraine, it’s a no brainer if you want the little ones to go take them. It’s a celebration of her life. The first ine I attended was my mums & I was in my 30s before I went to a funeral & it was my mum. It was horrible. My younger brother passed in 2012 it was so sad wit it was wonderful, his six grandkids were 250 other people. There was singing, crying his oldest G/son played a tune on his guitar. It’s never a good time, but go with the kids & celebrate this lovely lady’s life. Sorry about the mistakes ( spell check gets me all the time

  2. Depends on the child and the relationship to the deceased. Death is a part of life, why hide it? Kids see everything else now anyway.

    1 REPLY
  3. When my sister died, my mother wouldn’t let my 9 year old brother attend. She almost didn’t let me either and I was 14. So I think 10 and over is OK. But not little toddlers who disrupt the service.

    2 REPLY
  4. I think the 10 and 12 year olds are old enough. I don’t know about the 7 year old. As their parents you are the best ones to know what your children can handle and how they will react. Go with what you feel is right.

    9 REPLY
    • Yes they should be part of this once, upon a time families lived together up to 3,4 generations they all knew births Marriages & death it was all part if life & every one took part in it the joy the sadness the pain the wonder so let your children experience this she was part of their lives up untill now why should they not get to understand & share this too

    • I agree their parents are the ones that know how their children will handle it, and do what’s the best. When my mother died my children did go, they were 15 & 13 yrs of age. It’s very sad but it’s part of life.

    • My hubby was 8 when his father passed 48 years ago. He was not allowed to attend his dad’s funeral and it affected him for many years. He would wake up with nightmares, and it haunted him. It was the one regret in life that his mother didn’t allow him to attend. Other than that they had a wonderful relationship. We firmly believe that no child should ever be prevented from attending funerals.

  5. Take you children with you. A funeral is about respect and saying goodbye. Ask them first and if they don’t want to go then don’t force them. Do not take this opportunity from them.

  6. Its a celebration of a wonderful life …listen to all the stories

    2 REPLY
    • Agree – at my dads funeral, the grandchildren and great grand children said afterwards they were so happy to hear the stories, and see the photos from his youth and through his life – it keeps dad very alive in our minds….

  7. I think they should go to the funeral. It all part of acceptance of what life is all about. It is also good for you to have them there.

  8. My brother died in a MVA. He had two children, they were five and seven or thereabouts. They were kept from attending their Dads funeral, they were not allowed to say goodbye to him. It is now a month off forty years on and i see the hurt in both of them. They, as well as all kids of whatever age should be allowed to attend. What the heck are we all trying to protect them from, the inevitable.

    2 REPLY
    • I am now 70 and my dad died suddenly when I was 14. Still today I still wonder why could I not attend. It wsd s digm.of the times and that I hope a sign of a time long gone. One day my dad there and the next gone from sight
      Still sad as no goodbye

    • Someone’s funerals is a one in a lifetime opportunity to show love and respect. We were prevented from going to our mothers funeral. Instead my grand mother (her mother) packed us (age 12-7) off with one of her bowling friends, who we had never meet before, for a day at a wildlife sanctuary. The 3 of us kept talking about it and wondering what was happening that we weren’t allowed to see. That was 50 years ago. My grandmother did what her generation thought was right and my father was probably too bereaved to think or fight about it. Kids have to be involved in family stuff so they can learn and think about things to build their understanding and coping mechanisms. It is best they have coping mechanism through gentle coaching than to be thrown in the deep end with the death of a parent sibling or best friend being their first experience. Social norms change between generations. Each parent knows their children best and how they will react. Do what fits your own parenting style

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