Children and Funerals

Posted on July 26, 2016 by Martin Oaks under Community, Resources
1 Comment

should a child be taken to a funeralThere are many theories about how children handle grief after a death, particularly the death of a very close relative. One of the key questions that emerges from these issues is: should a child be taken to the funeral of that close relative or be shielded from much of the experience.

Strong arguments exist on both sides: allow me to share a personal experience related to this subject. My grandmother, Ella Deeken, died in march of 1957 at the age of 79. She had fallen and broken her hip in December of the previous year: as was the custom of the time, she was admitted to the hospital and remained there until she passed. In the 1950’s, a broken hip was many times a death sentence, as the patient lay bedridden, subject to pneumonia or other opportunistic disease.

While at the age of 7, I was permitted to visit my grandmother at the hospital, I was not taken to her funeral. It was an enormous funeral — she had ten children, 23 grandchildren and, as a result of an active volunteer life, had a wide social network of friends. Since I have no memories of the funeral, the memories of my grandmother all involve happy events: playing pirate with her (the feathered hat she wore as we sailed on our imaginary ships is still a vivid memory — as are the rubber sword fights we had, no small endeavor for a lady in her mid-70’s).

Christmas Day at my grandmothers house was always an epic occasion: great food, gifts, and fun with the entire family. Yet there is still a small piece of regret that I really didn’t say goodbye. My wife had a similar experience: she was nine when her grandmother passed, she also was not taken to the funeral. My feeling is that this is a case-by-case parenting decision, no universal answer. If you wish to share, feel free to do so.

Ella Deeken


One thought on “Children and Funerals

  1. mary mikesell says:

    i had the same experience–i love this and i know this is a difficult decision as a parent–i was not as close to grandma as you were — all i remember is walking around the block with mom- holding her hand as she cried

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