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Do you make your kids attend funerals?


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My Aunt passed away this week. As a child of a deacon in a conservative baptist church (people in the south will totally understand) I was drug to every funeral possible. My best friend was killed in a car accident at age 6 and I was drug to that. I was traumatized by the amount of funerals I attended. I can still "smell" the place. I get nauseous and my palms sweat. I just don't like it. I dislike it so much I have made my husband swear to not have a funeral for me. To just meet at the top of a mountain and enjoy some coffee or something with family.

 

Well, I had my mammogram/ultrasound today; just got home an hour prior to the funeral. Me and DH have already discussed it and we don't want to subject our kids to funerals unless it is family they truly know. They don't know my aunt. She was 78. We moved away to AZ for two years and they came back to GA not remembering anyone. She honestly scared my girls to death the one time I made them give her a kiss at Christmas.

 

Well, I was going to attend but I don't have a babysitter. My MIL is busy and its too late to drive to my aunt's an hour away. So, I tell my mom the news of my lumps not being cysts but masses. You know, I am upset myself a wee bit (not torn to bits upset but not happy either) and she breaks down saying I should get over myself and bring the kids. Then throws in my face that my nephews are there. I flat out told her I am not their mother but in my opinion they shouldn't be there.

 

Idk.. I just feel torn. I want to support my mom. It was her sister and my aunt. But it is also a place I don't want to go to and I definitely don't want to subject my kids to.

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Yes, we do take DD to funerals and she's been to more than most kids her age. In the last year we've lost DH's grandmother, my grandmother, my aunt, both of DH's parents, and my sister's FIL. Most of these people were family that DD saw on a weekly basis so we felt it appropriate for her to go. We always took my niece (she and DD are inseperable) and I think having both of them together helped so much. Funerals are sad but there's closure there and even kids need that. DD and niece actually got up to speak at my grandmother's funeral and shared what a short story about her. (DD's shared that there was always candy at her house and she could eat all she wanted but she wasn't supposed to run inside.)

 

In your situation, I'd stay home though. It sounds like it's too much right now.

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Yes, we do take DD to funerals and she's been to more than most kids her age. In the last year we've lost DH's grandmother, my grandmother, my aunt, both of DH's parents, and my sister's FIL. Most of these people were family that DD saw on a weekly basis so we felt it appropriate for her to go. We always took my niece (she and DD are inseperable) and I think having both of them together helped so much. Funerals are sad but there's closure there and even kids need that. DD and niece actually got up to speak at my grandmother's funeral and shared what a short story about her. (DD's shared that there was always candy at her house and she could eat all she wanted but she wasn't supposed to run inside.)

 

In your situation, I'd stay home though. It sounds like it's too much right now.

 

I agree in taking them when it is someone that is such a part of their life!

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My kids have been to a few funerals. It depends on how well they knew the person. I don't necessarily think kids have to go to anyone's funeral if it makes them uncomfortable. After my first funeral I was sick and upset for hours, and I was in high school.

 

I'm sorry about your aunt and your difficulties with your mom. It is hard.

 

I was raised with the attitude of - if you don't want to go to the funeral, don't. Will there be other siblings there to support your mother?

 

I'm sorry for all your troubles today. :grouphug:

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I agree in taking them when it is someone that is such a part of their life!

 

I reread what I wrote and what I was saying was that you have my permission and support to skip the funeral today and that's coming from someone who feels like they are a semi-professional funeral attender.

 

:grouphug:

 

You've had a lot going on. Today's would be a better day for tea and a puzzle with kids.

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I reread what I wrote and what I was saying was that you have my permission and support to skip the funeral today and that's coming from someone who feels like they are a semi-professional funeral attender.

 

:grouphug:

 

You've had a lot going on. Today's would be a better day for tea and a puzzle with kids.

 

:iagree:

 

I went to a lot of funerals as a child. We kind of joked that we never needed to plan a family reunion because we lost so many family members in a short period of time.

 

I have taken ds to funerals of people he didn't know well, mainly because people he did know well would be there. I never made him go view the body unless he was comfortable doing so. We now live right down the street from a funeral home and the only thing that creeps me out is when the police use their sirens to start the procession. I always jump.

 

But I feel the way you do about hospitals. I can't stand to go to them or visit people there. It's a place that totally creeps me out (I know, odd).

 

In your situation, I would have no angst about staying home. I'm sorry about your news. I hope the masses turn out to be nothing.

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DS13 has been to 1 funeral, which was for my step-grandmother two years ago. I honestly don't remember whether we gave him the option to go to that one or not, but I felt like it was one he should attend. Over the years he's had the opportunity to go to MANY funerals - my grandfather, my cousin, two classmates from 5th grade etc. Each time he opted not to attend and we honored his feelings. The only one I wonder if he should have gone to was my grandfather's because he was so close to him.

 

You need to do what is right for your family and your children without worrying about everyone else's opinions. You have issues with children and funerals because of your own experiences and that's absolutely valid. I can COMPLETELY understand where you're coming from. My first funeral was my mom's when I was 9 yrs. old and it brings back very uncomfortable feelings for me whenever I'm forced to go to another one. As for you and your family, I think you're making the right choice. :grouphug:

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Yes, we all go to family funerals. I would be very upset and offended if my close loved one died and another family member refused to come because of their own discomfort. No one enjoys it, of course, but it's something we do to show our love and support for the family. My kids have never complained or asked not to go, but they're still young and it's probably just never occurred to them that they could protest going.

 

Sorry for your loss and that you've had such a rough day.

 

Edited to add: I wouldn't make my children attend if it was something that truly made them uncomfortable, but dh and I would still certainly go despite our own dislike of funerals.

Edited by Wabi Sabi
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In your circumstance I would do what works for you.

 

I have actually been to few funerals in my lifetime - my first was my great grandfather when I was 8. I don't think I went to another until I was a freshman in high school, and I went to one that year (cousin) and the following (friend's dad).

Since we've been married I've been to a few more - 2 at church that the choir sang at (most recent), DH's two grandmothers, and his aunt. Oh, and my great-grandmother. My kids weren't around for my great grandma, and I just flew out for that one. They've been to all the others, though - the 2 at church because both DH and I needed to be there, and the family ones for obvious reasons.

I have to admit, I thought it was kind of weird when some of DH's relatives came with their spouse but left their kids at home for his grandma's funeral. But to each their own. I wouldn't leave my kids for a weekend to go to a funeral (2 family ones required trips - one was 16+ hrs).

 

ETA: For the visitation night, we didn't make the kids go up to the casket if they didn't want to. (At the funerals we attended, it isn't the norm to have an open casket, so visitation is really the only time that it comes up. They do sometimes have it open before the service begins, but we don't take the kids in early because it's just more time to be sitting there with a 3 year old. ;) ) I know that can seem really weird for kids, so we didn't push that. We just instructed them on how to behave and paid our respects.

Edited by PeacefulChaos
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My perspective is slightly different. I think the perfect funeral for an older child to attend is one of someone slightly distant in the family. It familiarizes them with the normal conclusion to life, opens great opportunity for discussion, doesn't leave them afraid of the unknown at a time when they might be truly mourning later for a close relative.

 

I did take my children to the funeral of their great Uncle and also the funeral of an in-laws parent. So glad because 18 months later, it was the funeral of their Grandfather - and they understood and were at peace.

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Why is it necessary for young children to attend funerals. I have never, ever understood. Don't we make the most difficult rules for one another! As long as someone is going to show up, you don't have to. I decided when I got married that I was going to understand the rules I followed as an adult or I wouldn't necessarily follow them. Your mother isn't thinking clearly. Give yourself a break. Take the kids to eat, grab some tea, relax. Dont regret the decision.

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Yes, we all go to family funerals. I would be very upset and offended if my close loved one died and another family member refused to come because of their own discomfort. No one enjoys it, of course, but it's something we do to show our love and support for the family

 

:iagree::iagree::iagree:

 

Now wakes on the other hand I do not make my children attend. I had to go to a whole bunch as a child as my paternal grandparents each had 6 siblings plus there were sadly several parents of my friends and friends of my parents who passed away in middle age.

 

I found it very creepy at wakes to have to go up to the deceased in the casket and say my goodbyes. At my maternal grandfather's wake, I was so upset that I actually had a visual hallucination. I seriously thought I could see his chest rising and falling like he was breathing. I ended up having to leave the wake to go back to my hotel room and lie down (I was in college so I was old enough to do that).

 

The funerals I never minded because they weren't that different from a regular Mass.

 

When my two grandmothers passed away, I took my kids to the funerals but not the wakes.

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If you feel strongly that they should not be there, then do not go/

 

However, you may want to attend the funeral ONLY (not the viewing) and sit quietly in the back, slipping in with the kids just as the service is beginning, and slipping out in the closing prayer. This would likely help to smooth things over with your mother without dragging things out for the kids.

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My perspective is slightly different. I think the perfect funeral for an older child to attend is one of someone slightly distant in the family. It familiarizes them with the normal conclusion to life, opens great opportunity for discussion, doesn't leave them afraid of the unknown at a time when they might be truly mourning later for a close relative.

 

I did take my children to the funeral of their great Uncle and also the funeral of an in-laws parent. So glad because 18 months later, it was the funeral of their Grandfather - and they understood and were at peace.

 

Absolutely! The first several funerals my children attended were of distant relatives or elderly family friends that my children barely knew. I agree that it opens up the opportunity for discussion and such. I'm actually really glad that they got the chance to understand and process the concept of death from a more detached perspective before having to then deal with the loss of someone who did meant a great deal to them.

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I fall on the side that young children should not attend funerals or should be kept in the back if there is a body. When I was six, I had something very traumatic happen to me at a great uncle's funeral and had panic attacks at funerals for years afterward. To this day, I barely tolerate them and since my ridiculously traditional parents get all freaky about any lack of attendance on my part, I now volunteer as the music coordinator and pianist for all funerals I might be obligated to attend. This keeps me away from the blasted casket and people acting inappropriately - like my aunt who ALWAYS kisses the body on the lips :001_huh: when she says goodbye and then wants to come kiss all the rest of us on the cheek. NO THANKS! I provide a LOT of music. :001_smile: Always at the piano or always in conference with the funeral director, the clergyperson, or any other musicians.

 

When they were young, dh kept the children in the back and now that they are teenagers, they are allowed to make the decision of attendance or not and where they want to sit and if they want to "pay respects" or not, and whatever else for themselves. They are well mannered, friendly, and know how to express condolences. I require nothing more.

 

Faith

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It's not been an issue for us. Yet.

 

The only funeral that's happened since our marriage was Wolf's gpa.

 

We chose for me not to attend, nor the children, b/c of racial tension. Turned out to be a wise decision, since one of his aunts verbally accosted the Caucasian dh of his cousin.

 

If I'd been there, Wolf figures it would have been a physical confrontation, since she barely restrained herself from crossing that line w/the dh.

 

It'll depend largely on who the funeral is for, and where it's happening. We live 10 hrs west of a huge chunk of his adopted family, about 15 hrs east of MIL. For MIL, we'd go. The rest, highly unlikely. I can pretty much count on one hand the number of times we've seen any of them in the last almost 10 yrs.

 

If it were close friends, ppl the children love, then yes, I could see taking them.

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I would not make them go for someone they barely knew. You have enough to deal with. :grouphug:

 

I agree.

 

This summer my son has been to his great aunt's funeral, and my MIL. He will not be attending tomorrow for the service of a close family friend, since he has met her only once or twice and I know won't remember he anyway.

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I don't like funerals, and my DH and kids know that I don't want one. I think it's a horribly cruel custom for a family to have to endure. I've told DH and the kids that if they feel they need some sort of "closure" (I've never understood that), then they should feel free to invite people to a picnic or a potluck somewhere and sit around and talk about what a great person I was. So given my feelings, no, I don't make my kids go to funerals, and I particularly wouldn't make them go to a funeral of someone they weren't really close to.

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My children attend funerals. If I feel it is important enough for me to go, they go as well. I attended many funerals when I was a little girl but I think it helped me understand death a little bit more. I do hate them but I don't think anyone enjoys them. On the other side of things, my dh did not attend any funerals, even for family, when he was a child. He attended only two as an adult with me before his Dad died. They were difficult and very foreign to him. So, my children go. I do not force them to look at the bodies if there are open caskets but they go and pay their respects.

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My perspective is slightly different. I think the perfect funeral for an older child to attend is one of someone slightly distant in the family. It familiarizes them with the normal conclusion to life, opens great opportunity for discussion, doesn't leave them afraid of the unknown at a time when they might be truly mourning later for a close relative.

 

I did take my children to the funeral of their great Uncle and also the funeral of an in-laws parent. So glad because 18 months later, it was the funeral of their Grandfather - and they understood and were at peace.

 

:iagree: this. definitely this.

 

i grew up going to funeral homes with my grandma, often for folks i didn't know. she was her church's elder for grieving families. we went pretty much every week. she did a good job of teaching me about how people grieve, and how i could be helpful. as a result, mostly i see funeral homes as a place of peace and love in the midst of sadness. i have taken all of my dc since they were little.

 

for us, funerals are a part of life. just as we celebrate births, birthdays, weddings, baptisms as a family, we celebrate someone's life as a family.

 

the difference is that none of us feel as if we were dragged to a funeral. i'm thinking it might help for you to work on going to a few so that you become more peaceful about it before you take your kids, if you decide you want to. otherwise, they'll pick up on your discomfort and it will not be a good thing, kwim?

 

:grouphug:

ann

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I think one reason my children were never traumatized is that those we know who died were dying. They were sick. They were uncles, aunts, grandparents. They knew they were going to die. They were prepared. My children sat in the room holding my mil's hands right before she died. They kissed her goodbye and she died 2 hours later. She looked better dead than alive.

 

 

We've always had funeral/some dress clothing. Saver's has cheap kid blazers. My dh has a specific suit for funerals. Honestly? I am sick of the dying. We have a dear,dear,dear close prime-of-life relative who is dying. We have no idea how long it will be until that sad, horrible day, but we know it's coming. I don't want to think about that, but in the back of my mind, I know I need to get dress shoes for the younger kids, as I am sure they have outgrown their old ones. Sometimes... doing errands is better than thinking about reality.

 

Folks deal with death and grief in their own way, and I wouldn't 'force' a child to do anything. If a dead body is frightening to a child, I would not bring them.

Edited by LibraryLover
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Close friends and family, yes. Otherwise no. I do not make them go to viewings or sit near an open casket at all. They have attended viewings, but I allowed them to stay in another room. I was traumitized by funerals when I was a kid, and I don't force them to do what they are not comfortable with. I hope you stayed home today, and spent time w/ your dc. You have enough to deal with, and need to focus on you right now.

:grouphug::grouphug::grouphug:

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You need to do what is best for you. Send a card, express your condolences, and if there are any questions asked you were "dealing with a medical issue". :grouphug::grouphug::grouphug:

 

:iagree:AMEN to that! It has to work for you and your family. No guilt over whomever says whatever. You have to do what works for you. My husband is the same way with funerals. He has never gotten over the open-casket wake & funeral of an uncle he was forced to attend when he was a young boy.

 

I'll say it again. It has to work for you (and not your mother or anyone else). A card is more than enough. The person that you would be honoring (your aunt) will not be present (as in alive) to notice your presence or lack thereof . Therefore do what's right for you :-) (Sorry I keep saying the same thing but it's because I have come to FINALLY see that for myself and my family).

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Yes, we do, of people they know. Although we did go to a funeral this spring of a mentor of DH. I'm glad the kids went. It was an amazing memorial service. A true celebration of the life of an amazing man who died of cancer at a relatively young age. They also went to a funeral of a woman at our church who just loved kids, and gave the kids Christmas presents every year. But other than that, we haven't had funerals to go to. I would say, if they know the person personally, then yes. Otherwise, no.

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:iagree:AMEN to that! It has to work for you and your family. No guilt over whomever says whatever. You have to do what works for you. My husband is the same way with funerals. He has never gotten over the open-casket wake & funeral of an uncle he was forced to attend when he was a young boy.

 

I'll say it again. It has to work for you (and not your mother or anyone else). A card is more than enough. The person that you would be honoring (your aunt) will not be present (as in alive) to notice your presence or lack thereof . Therefore do what's right for you :-) (Sorry I keep saying the same thing but it's because I have come to FINALLY see that for myself and my family).

 

 

I agree. It's personal. You do what you need to do.

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Once again, I'm guilty of reading just the first and last pages of replies.

 

We've not had many family deaths since having children (I took my now-18 yo to my dad's funeral, but she was just 5 mos. old) but plenty of church friends, etc.

 

Thursday, I'm going (alone...) to the service of a homeschool dad who died unexpectedly. The kids weren't that close and they don't want to go, and that's fine. My good friend is also going alone, leaving her kids at home, as she pointed out that the new widow is not really a very public person and probably will feel overwhelmed by the service as it is. I had not really thought about how overwhelming a crowd can be. It's a show of support but it can be "too much." There are so many other ways to care -- especially about a month after the death when the shock turns into the new normal... The out of town company goes home and the grieving family must continue to do what they do. That's a good time for "thinking about you" flowers, a meal, a hand with housework...

 

One thing my dh did that was helpful was to take dc to a funeral of someone that they didn't really know themselves. Dh kept his composure and I stayed home with the then-baby. The dc that went were able to see what a funeral was like without being emotionally attached. Not that anyone wants such a situation, but it turned out to be good.

 

Now when someone from church dies, we ask if they want to attend. If someone we're really close to (family...) dies, we'll ask that they go, but otherwise, we don't want to force the issue.

Edited by Bassoonaroo
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When they knew the person, or once when I had a day drive there and a day drive back and dh had to work, I took the younger three (oldest was 12 and deemed old enough to stay home -- neighbor took him to co-op one day). It was a family-friendly funeral of the matriarch of my mom's family, my great-aunt who the dc didn't know well, but I did. They actually had the option of staying with my aunt from my dad's side for that one (we stayed at her house overnight), but they all chose to come to the visitation/mass/burial ... my grandmother (the deceased aunt's sister) had been buried out of the same church almost exactly a year before, so they were familiar with everything.

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Drive by posting.

 

It depends on the funeral. Close family, yes. People the kids hardly know, probably not. When my dd was 4 a friend of hers got the flu and died from it. The boy's mother had just remarried and was on her honeymoon. They kept the boy on life support until she got back home. I refused to take her. It was horrible.

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No, in fact, mine have never been to a funeral. My mom was raised Catholic and had similar experiences as you, OP. I won't make my kids go through what she went through. Now that they're a bit older, if a family member died I'd probably give them the option of going, but I wouldn't make them.

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To the OP's *specific* post: No, I don't think that you are obligated to take the kids. I do think that given the proximity of the deceased person, YOU should find a way to go. However, I get that you have a history of anxiety related to funerals and a current major stressor. So, a graceful pass is an oppropriate option, also.

 

In general, death rituals are found in nearly every society and culture. So much so that I believe there is something inherently useful, soothing, and thereapuetic in them. *Our* culture has a specific set of rituals. Given that we live in this culture and that our kids will grow up in this culture, they need some exposure, coaching, support in terms of death.

 

Death is scary, and weird, and uncomfortable. Kids need our help in navigating those emotions and on understanding how that gets expressed.

 

OP, your level of fear and discomfort is fairly palpable. It's understandable, too, because you were expected to go to funerals (in which I am sure confusing doctrine was offered) but I suspect you were not coached, supported, and talked to through it. Eventually, you or someone will "have" to teach your kids.

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Right there with you. Seeing dead bodies doesn't bother me, but the funeral ritual makes absolutely no sense to me. Seriously, why does anyone want a whole slew of people looking at their body, talking about the bad make-up job, etc. No thanks. No funerals for us either.

 

I wouldn't take my dc to a funeral simply due to experiences as a child like OP's. And, like OP, I already have an agreement with my dh/dc that when I die there will be no funeral. No one should feel pressured to attend a funeral or to bring dc to one.
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It depends on the age of the child and whose funeral it is. In general I think people should go to funerals, but a sensitive child at a young age I would let them skip it.

 

When I was in 5th grade, there was a kid in my class that went to the same church as us, that died of some strange brain hemorrhage. My mom wanted me to go to the funeral, but I didn't want to. The thing was the boy was a bully and I really didn't like him. I felt so conflicted. I'm glad she let me skip it.

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OP, I was brought up similarly to you, and was RELIEVED to learn that in our (new) area of the country, children do not normally attend funerals (or weddings, for that matter - another pleasant surprise to me).

 

:grouphug:

 

Measure the "loss" (to all) against the "gain" (to all), and be at peace with your decision.

 

Every single case in every single family in every single culture is different.

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Right there with you. Seeing dead bodies doesn't bother me, but the funeral ritual makes absolutely no sense to me. Seriously, why does anyone want a whole slew of people looking at their body, talking about the bad make-up job, etc. No thanks. No funerals for us either.

 

 

You're talking about Wakes, not funerals. I have issues with certain types of Wakes *for me*. Dh and I have been clear with each other about what we want and do not want.

 

 

What others want/need to say goodbye to their loved ones is up to them. Every religion has a death ritual. One does what 'makes sense' to them, and their particular culture/needs.

Edited by LibraryLover
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Yes, my children attend funerals with me. They have from the beginning. I can't imagine them not doing so. In our family it is the norm. My dd who suffers from anxiety and is my aspie deals fine, except that people talk to her :001_smile:. My cousin kept her children away from them as long as she could, but last year brought them as she wanted them exposed to it before it became someone they were very close to. The boys, 7 and 10, had a huge curiosity at first about the body and then after meeting people, quietly went to a back corner and played with their ipods with my dd.

 

ETA: Read the previous posts. The girls attend the wakes too. Most of ours are time spent with extended family that we don't see often and remembering/talking about those who have passed. Just wanted to clarify. I'm also astounded that many would not take their children to the wake/funeral of a relative they were close to, especially a grandparent. I can't imagine that. Children need closure and time to grieve too.

Edited by Angel
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How it works in Mid-Missouri is that visitation (a.k.a. the lay out) is usually the night before and is usually at a funeral home. The day of the actual funeral begins a lot like the visitation, then proceeds with music, eulogies, sermon, the closing of the casket and then the procession to the cemetery.

 

I think what a "particular culture needs" is a bit of a generalization. As with religion, everyone has different views and needs. So, to say that everyone in America must and/or needs to attend funerals is an awfully strong statement. For people to become upset, offended, etc. by another loved one or person not attending nor wanting to attend a visitation or funeral is a little pompous to me. To force anyone into partaking in a death ritual in any form is simply petty, IMO.

 

(Totally not directed at you...your post just got me thinking. :001_smile:)

 

 

You're talking about Wakes, not funerals. I have issues with certain types of Wakes *for me*. Dh and I have been clear with each other about what we want and do not want. I told him that if he goes before I go, I will lay him out, without makeup, in a pine box in the living room for a night (and whoever wants to visit can), before the cremators pick him up. He thought that was crazy, but I told him that's how they did in the old country (sans cremation). He says to forget it if I think he'll do the same for me. lol He needs to do what comforts him. I would want to sleep on the sofa for one last night near him. I know it's sounds gruesome to some, and 100% wrong in some religions, but that is what I would need.

 

What others want/need to say goodbye to their loved ones is up to them. Every religion has a death ritual. One does what 'makes sense' to them, and their particular culture/needs.

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