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Mommy Dearest: Should I Bring My Son to a Memorial?

Mommy Dearest,

My husband and I are debating whether or not we should bring our five-year-old son to a memorial for a family friend. The gentleman passed away last year and since our child was close with him and we have to travel for the event, we are leaning towards bringing him. Do you think he's at an okay age to deal with death?

— Should I Bring My Son to Memorial

To read the response from Mommy Dearest,


Should I Bring My Son to Memorial,

Most memorials I have attended have been celebrations of life and appropriate for children. At four-years-old, my daughter has been to a few family members' funerals. Though I initially took her out of necessity because it was hard to find a babysitter as our relatives were all attending the services, I am glad I did. She seems to understand that death is part of life and copes with it in her own way. My grandfather passed away last year and she often talks about him — telling stories and how sometimes she looks up to the clouds and can see him.

— Mommy Dearest

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milosmommy milosmommy 9 years
I never went to a funeral until college-age. I had just never knew anyone that died. I felt really awkward at first and didn't know what to do or say because my parents never taught me or talked to me about it. I personally think it has to do with each individual child and what they can handle. I don't think there's a concrete right or wrong answer.
Greggie Greggie 9 years
I agree that talking and addressing it individually is key. Not taking them to a funeral is not shielding them and being overprotective. I can teach my children about the dangers of drug use without taking them to South Central to watch junkies shooting up on the corner.
garden123 garden123 9 years
I completely agree with LilRuck44's comment: "dealing with death has a lot more to do with talking in depth about it than the visual of a funeral."
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 9 years
I handle death fine too, and my parents kept me away from events like that in my early years (I'd say probably up until age 6?). My husband handles it just fine as well, and his parents were very firm, they didn't think children belonged at funerals. Not saying I agree completely with them, only that dealing with death has a lot more to do with talking in depth about it than the visual of a funeral. Greggie I can't even imagine!!
Greggie Greggie 9 years
This is why I say it depends on the child. Like I said, my 5-year-old would do well and would likely benefit from it as far as understanding goes. But for those that think every child needs to be introduced to it and provide closure, I sincerely hope you don't have a child like my 8-year-old. He wouldn't sleep for weeks, afraid he would die in his sleep. He already has trouble falling asleep due to that fear, why would I make it worse by showing him exactly what happens when someone dies? I love him too much to inflict that pain with the excuse of "He needs closure." And his counselor would likely scream at us for a week for causing such a major setback in his progress. As a child, I wasn't introduced to it until I was about 10. My parents didn't shield me, they just didn't force it on me either. I handle death and closure just fine.
skigurl skigurl 9 years
i'm reading the other comments now and i really disagree. you need to learn these things as young as possible. when my grandfather died and my aunt died, ALL my cousins were at the wake for 3 days and the funeral and all the receptions that accompany it. and many were really young, younger than 5 some of them. you need to learn. this is REAL LIFE. what would you do with your 5 year old if somenoe really close to them died and they HAD to be there? explain to your child what's going on and bring them into the real world. don't shelter them.
skigurl skigurl 9 years
i definitely feel strongly about introducing kids to this type of situation as early as possible and as often as it comes up. my parents never shyed away from bringing us to wakes and funerals as children, and we were always explained how to behave etc. and now, at age 25, i am more comfortable dealing with this type of situation when my parents aren't around. i had a couple good friends die in university and i was one of the only people equipped to handle the situation. my boyfriend and friends were panicking and didn't know how to deal, how to behave, what to wear, what would happen.... you don't want deaths to happen often, and you don't wish to go to many memorials, so when they do come about, embrace the situation and bring your child with you to help them learn! i would never assume anyone would be annoyed by bringing a child and i certainly dont' think you need to ask, as long as your child knows how to behave and you dress them up nice.
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 9 years
I don't think any child five and under needs "closure" in the form of a funeral, like adults do. I also don't think there's anything wrong with not wanting a four year old to see a dead body.
Pallas-Athena Pallas-Athena 9 years
I think that it is very important for children to go to funerals or memorial services especially if they were close to the person because it provides closure. A lot of parents don't want to take a child because they don't want them to remember the person who has passed in a casket, they don't want them to see a dead body, they're too young, or they don't want to answer questions. It took three days to get my cousin to allow her children to see their dead father (they're young children - ages 8-4) and all they did was hold his hand, kiss his face, say, "Daddy, wake up" and sit down. It was better than keeping them downstairs the whole time where they kept acting up because for 6 hours they had to wait. A lot of people make the mistake of not going to the funeral or wake or memorial service and they regret it. I know that emotions are all mixed up, but don't let your emotions get in the way of your child's emotions and wants.
kia kia 9 years
Each person deals with death and the healing process of remembering a loved one in a different way. Youngins can handle death and understand it if people help them through the process. I was one of those kids that had a healthy grasp on death and memorializing at a young age. Now that I am an adult I know I handled it better then than some adults do now. If you take your son help him through the grieving and memorializing process honestly. He'll fear it most likely if you fear it.
pinkprincess1101 pinkprincess1101 9 years
Garden you beat me to the punch, and I also think five and under is too young hell I wouldnt take my 8 almost 9 year old unless it was immediate family or she asked to go and understood and grasped the concept, that's just my family
garden123 garden123 9 years
The other thing to consider is whether the child will be able to be quiet and respectful. If the child is not one to be able to sit still quietly for very long, a memorial service probably isn't the best idea.
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 9 years
I would say no. I think for sure there needs to be a lot of talk about it, age appropriate of course. Children have questions and they absolutely can and need to learn about death, what it means, etc. But I'd never take a child that young to a funeral, there are too many possibly really disturbing things. A five year old could be very troubled by seeing grown men and women extremely upset, sobbing, etc. Those are definitely parts of life that everyone needs to see (as in, even moms and dads cry sometimes), but I think five is just too young to purposely expose them to something like that. (in my opinion of course!)
g1amourpuss g1amourpuss 9 years
I'm not sure how to handle that yet. Last night my husband wanted to watch a violent movie, No Country for Old Men. In the very beginning the actor Javier shots the guy between the eyes for his car. My toddler [2yrs, 4mnths] was sitting by me and gasped and looked at me so scared and confused. So I rubbed her back and ya know... 'They' say you're not suppose to tell kids this, but I have to come up with something fast! I told my daughter he went to sleep, he was tired. (She gets bored fast, so she went to play in her room right when I paused it. I told my husband she's not ready for things like that yet, and I don't want her watching stuff like that.) But yeah - I don't know how to handle funerals or death with her yet, but I'm anxious to read what you all think.
Greggie Greggie 9 years
I also have a really hard time seeing a child's casket and don't know why this picture was used.
Greggie Greggie 9 years
I think it completely depends on the child. My 5-year-old would do fine and I'd prefer to bring him if he'd been close to the deceased. My 8-year-old, however, would not handle it well. He has OCD and death is one of his major obsessive fears. I'd avoid taking him to a funeral, especially someone he's close to, at all costs. I don't think there's a blanket answer, I think it's something each parent needs to evaluate for each child.
YayaOzoHead YayaOzoHead 9 years
I remember going to funerals as a child (for two of my grandparents and older uncles) and I didn't have a problem understanding death even at a young age (I can't remember exactly but maybe 7 or so). I do remember not being able to sleep after my grandmother passed away. I didn't go to her funeral and now that I think about it, perhaps I should have to get some closure.
jessie jessie 9 years
lilsugar-a question if i may...why did you post a picture of a childs casket instead of an adults? since the post was regarding a adult..i was just wondering. :shrug: that pic in all honesty makes my wanna cry...i went to service for my best friend baby..11 months old. little white carrying it out by of the most emotional service we've ever been too. :cry: i haven't taken my children to any funerals yet....we've talked about it quite a bit, but i've chose not to take them.
lickety-split lickety-split 9 years
since he was close to this person i'd consider taking him. check before hand to make sure there won't be an open casket (i think that's too much for most kids) and talk before hand about the meaning of the memorial; these people loved this man and are here to honor his life together. be prepared to answer questions for quite awhile and remember that the concept of death is abstract and he likely won't understand for quite awhile. for example in a couple of months he might say "john is coming for christmas" and when you say "no he died, remember?" he'll say something like "but he ALWAYS comes for christmas". there are books you can buy on this topic just for kids.
sofi sofi 9 years
I've taken my children to close family funerals as well. My son has asked lots of questions but is ok with it all. His teachers said he has talked about it in class and they have been impressed with his understanding and grasp of it (that was at 4 yrs old). I don't want to shelter them from 'death' and being able to talk about it, but we also aren't going to be morbid with too much talk of it.
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