Funeral etiquette - Take the kids, or leave them home?

Filed under: Big Kids, Tweens, Development/Milestones: Babies

My husband's aunt passed away recently, after a long illness. She had lived across the street from us when both of our children were born, and used to send dinner every so often. Her husband would bring the boys Hot Wheels cars and various other toys; they gave my older son his first bicycle. The boys don't really remember any of that, but we did, and we were saddened by her death.

But we were also unsure about the funeral etiquette. My sons are six and eight -- were they old enough to go to the funeral? I didn't know, and so I started asking around. To my surprise, the overwhelming response from my mama friends was no, don't take them, they're too young, they won't be able to sit still, they won't understand what's going on. I still wavered -- they go church at school each week, so the funeral Mass would be familiar to them, and they seem to understand what it means to say that someone has died. And there would be other kids there, most about their ages.

In the end, my husband went to the funeral alone, and I stayed home with our kids and some other cousins because we were unable to find a sitter for the out of town children and this was just easier for everyone. But we have other elderly relatives who are not in good health, and because I am sure this will be an issue again, perhaps soon, I'm still curious about the etiquette here -- should kids go to funerals, or stay home?

What's your rule on funerals and children? How old is old enough? Or do other factors, like your child's relationship to the deceased, matter more?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.