My poor son has been to more funerals in his short life than I went to in the first twenty-five years of mine. I guess that is what comes of having older parents and also Daddy P being nearly twenty years younger than his brother and sister. Sadly, Daddy P lost another relative this week, so we have another funeral to attend in a couple of weeks.
It’s made me think of changes in attitudes over the years with regards to children attending funerals – or perhaps it’s just my family! You can tell me.
We spent most of my childhood in Surrey, with my Mum’s family being in Kent. I was six when my Dad’s father died, he lived in a home near Kingston upon Thames. At the time we didn’t have a car, the M25 didn’t exist and I can’t even remember my Dad going to his funeral. He went alone, Mum was at home with my brother, I guess I was at school. Who awful for Dad to go through that by himself. I was too young to remember any discussions, my Granddad lived in a home and I’d only seen him a few times, he didn’t know who we were.
My Mum’s Dad died three days after my thirteenth birthday. He went into hospital on my birthday, a telephone call I will never forget. My Gran insisted that my brother and I were not allowed to go to Papa’s funeral – we were too young! Uum, 13 and nearly 11 – I don’t think so. I have always felt that that was the wrong decision, I’m not sure about my brother, but I desperately needed to go to understand that Papa was gone. I needed to say goodbye.
I was twenty-one when my Gran’s brother-in-law died, a lovely bear of a man, who my Mum adored. We all went to his funeral as my Great Auntie wanted us there, I can remember that my Gran wasn’t happy about that either! My brother and I were both young adults by then and I wanted to pay my respects to a man who had always been so kind to me and to be there for my Great Auntie, who was and is, at nearly 92, an amazing lady.
I loved my Gran dearly, didn’t always agree with her thinking, but I still worshipped her. When she died just after her 90th birthday in 2004 I was totally devastated. We had always been very close. Her funeral was such an emotional day, the service was held at the same crematorium where Papa’s had been, and where his ashes had been scattered. It was the first time I had been there, it was like I was saying goodbye to both of them that day – it was very hard.
When my ex-father-in-law passed away, my niece and nephew (both young at the time, were involved in the whole service. Somehow my ex-BIL read one of the kid’s poems out – the rest of us were in floods of tears by that point. But I think it was good (that’s the wrong word but I can’t think of another, right now) that the kids were there. They understood that their Gramps had died and it gave them the chance to say goodbye. Yes, they had to see all of us in tears, but I think showing emotions is a good thing. In fact, having them there probably helped us all get through that particular day.
So we’ll talk to my son again about heaven. He knows that heaven is where our cats Monty and Roxy live and they look after the people who we go to say goodbye to when we have another funeral to attend. He hasn’t been to a funeral of anyone he personally knows really well yet. That day I will dread, but I still think I’m doing the right thing by including him in the whole process.
I’d love to know your thoughts and experiences ……