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Question
Posted by: Lin | 2012/07/13

6 yearvold and death

My 6 year old son''s great grandfather is busy dying. I have explained this to my son and answered all his questions in an age appropriate manner.
By question to you Prof is, do I take my son to the funetal?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

There are no strict rules about this, but it sounds as though you have been managing a naturally distressing situation very sensibly so far. IF the boy seems to have been handling the sad events well enough so far, there's no reason why he shouldn't go to the funeral - IF, given the choice, he decides he wants to go. Forcin a child to attend or pressing them firmly to do so, is of course not a good idea. But although it may be distressing - mainly to see adults who are weeping and distressed - it is also usually useful. If a child is not allowed to attend, they may wonder what is happening that is too awful for them to see, and that's worse than the sad reality.
Reflecting on the experiences of Lola, it is NEVER a good idea to lie to a child about such things, or just not to tell them. As Lola so beautifully reports, unless we mess it up for them, children are often more practical and sensible and logical about such things, and not allowing them to join in a family's rituals and events, deprives them of something they have a right to be a part of. Thank you so much, Lola, for sharing the wisdom of your child

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Our users say:
Posted by: desperado | 2012/07/18

I would say take him. It''s his family and he''s part of that family and also need to say goodbye.
I took my 2 children age 3 and 5 to their great grandfather''s funeral 10 months ago. They were very close to him and he was such a fun grandfather. I explained to them before the time that he was very old and tired and that his time with us was over, he died, and had to go back to jesus.
I explained that our way of saying goodbye to him was to go to church and sing and say prayers and send him off knowing that we loved him and know that he will be happy with jesus.
I also explained that people will cry because they will be sad to not see him anymore but that they will soon feel better and will one day see him again.

But I must add that we only had a service not an actual funeral where they buried him. (he was cremented(spelling) I know some children do freak out if they see the body being buried and get nightmares afterwards. In that case maybe let them stand somewhere in the back where they don''t see to much of the process.

Good luck with everything my thoughts are with your family

Reply to desperado
Posted by: Sisi | 2012/07/18

Wow! just could help the tears. Today''s kids are amazing. They are such a blessing. They are so informed. May God bless them all and guide us in keeping them happy and protected at all times.

Reply to Sisi
Posted by: Rashieda | 2012/07/17

My son (6 years) lost his dad in a car accident,i was more worried about him then myself. I tried answering all his question where i could. The day of the funeral i was a emotional rec,crying hysterical,but a few days later my son ask me " mom why were you so sad at daddy''s funeral?"  I than explain to him that i was so sad.I then ask him what did he feel that day. His answers to me was "  i was so happy cause i could so my daddy is also happy" .i was in tears after that.

Reply to Rashieda
Posted by: Lola | 2012/07/16

Thank you Lu &  CS. It certainly has been challenging. But my child has had a good grip on it &  has made me see a different light. She has said some amazing things to me, which I have not expected.

She once told me that I should not think he is not with us. he is an angel &  he may just be sitting right next to me. I was once watching the reality channel &  Saving Babies came on. She changed the channel &  told her dad that the programme will make me sad.

I am amazed at how children can understand so well. I can''t ever remember being like that as a child.

I have learnt that it is important to be honest with kids as much as possible.

Reply to Lola
Posted by: Lu | 2012/07/13

Lola,

It''s heart-breaking to read you story, thank you for sharing your experience with us. Only someone that has been in a situation like yours can truly know what is the right thing to do.

Reply to Lu
Posted by: Lola | 2012/07/13

You should take him to the funeral.

Last year I lost a baby, a month after his birth. My daughter had just turned 7 the day before my son passed away. She knew he was a sick baby as we told her that her brother was very ill.

She was very upset that she could not spend time with her baby brother or could not even see him when he was in hospital.

We were so traumatized when our baby passed away. he was the eldest of a set of triplets, and we still had 2 more babies fighting for their lives in NICU. We just did not know how to tell our daughter about his death.

Her dad thought it best that we not tell her and she not come to the funeral. We were fearful that it would distress her as she would wonder if her other 2 brothers would die too.

We told her the weekend after we buried her brother. She was so upset and said she would have wanted to be at his funeral and say goodbye as he was her brother and we forgot that.

She asked to be taken to the cemetery as she needed to see where her brother was and she even took toys to put on his grave.

A month ago, she told me that she thinks that i don''t visit her brother often enough. I must not forget him or let him think we have forgotten him. He needs to know that we will always love him.

I cried. Children are smarter than we think and they have an astounding understanding of the world around us.

Reply to Lola
Posted by: cybershrink | 2012/07/13

There are no strict rules about this, but it sounds as though you have been managing a naturally distressing situation very sensibly so far. IF the boy seems to have been handling the sad events well enough so far, there's no reason why he shouldn't go to the funeral - IF, given the choice, he decides he wants to go. Forcin a child to attend or pressing them firmly to do so, is of course not a good idea. But although it may be distressing - mainly to see adults who are weeping and distressed - it is also usually useful. If a child is not allowed to attend, they may wonder what is happening that is too awful for them to see, and that's worse than the sad reality.
Reflecting on the experiences of Lola, it is NEVER a good idea to lie to a child about such things, or just not to tell them. As Lola so beautifully reports, unless we mess it up for them, children are often more practical and sensible and logical about such things, and not allowing them to join in a family's rituals and events, deprives them of something they have a right to be a part of. Thank you so much, Lola, for sharing the wisdom of your child

Reply to cybershrink

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