Monday, 18 August 2014

Children and Funerals

For those of you who may have followed Green Loving Girl from the start, you might remember that it's pretty long year for my family since last August, as we lost my godmother, my grand dad and more recently my grand ma. There is no other way to put it. It has been a shit year in that respect.

As a result, Siena and Hugo have already attended three funerals, all before Siena turned four. I don't expect Hugo will remember anything, as he has only just turned one. But at the latest one, Siena was most definitely more aware.

Barry and I strongly believe in talking to the children seriously. Don't get me wrong, we are happy to play along at "pretend" games and have silly conversations with them. But if Siena asks us a question, we aim to answer it as best as we can. A child's curiosity is a precious thing. I do not want to discourage it in any way, but on the contrary, keep on watering it as I genuinely believe this will help forge their character as they grow up.

However, as a parent, or even just as a grown up generally, it can be really hard to know how to answer specific questions from a child...

When Jane died, we didn't tell Siena that she was gone. Hugo was only a few weeks old, so she would have been two and a half. Yet she seemed to understand as when she saw me cry at the end of the service, she said that "mummy was sad because she can't see Aunty Jane". Children are definitely a lot more perceptive and clever that we sometimes give them credit for.

So when my grand dad died, I decided to explain to her that he was no longer here with us as she was almost three. I can't remember exactly what was said. But she asked me a lot of questions, and I remember we talked about Bambi and his mummy as this was one of favourite films at the time. She then seemed to realise what I was saying and seemed really upset, and I worried I had taken it too far... I remember exactly where we were, on our way home after work/nursery. Then she had her thinking expression on and told me: "Superman's daddy died didn't he?", which I acknowledged. And so she proceeded to tell me all about Superman. I felt relieved but also impressed. Kids truly are amazing.

At my grand ma's service, I think the tears from all three services combined into one and so I cried more. Siena was observing me as she does with her beautiful big hazel eyes, and then became upset stating that she missed grandma and so needed a big cuddle. This was difficult to see, as she is so little, so we reassured her, explaining that there was no need to be sad. But again, difficult to convince a child of this when she has seen you cry over that same thing!

Naturally, I did not take Siena in with me to say goodbye to Jane prior to the service. To be honest, I don't think I will ever get used to seeing a dead body and so would rather wish Siena had a say in the matter when she was older before imposing this on her. But with regards to attending the funeral itself, we are lucky that both kids were beautifully behaved throughout each one of the above services, Siena particularly liked the singing part! Additionally, everyone seemed happy to see them, and they brought many smiles to peoples' faces, which is also greatly welcomed on sad occasions. They do represent after all, what life is about, don't they?

And to me personally, when I think of my new mantra (taken from Jane): "It is important that we focus on our blessings in life of which there are many", Siena and Hugo are most definitely my two most precious blessings!

How do you deal with questions from your children? Would you take your child to a funeral or do you believe they should be kept away from such events?

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*All images unless otherwise noted are my own, so please do not use them without my permission.*
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