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Not the Most Kid-Friendly, But It Was a Necessity

by David Kuharski

My wife is grieving the death of her maternal grandmother, who passed on in July.  When we first married and talked about life experiences, I realized Julie had never gone through this storm before--as a child, teen, or young adult.  Never before had a beloved family member died that she was especially close to.   I knew that the storm was waiting for her.  Unlike Julie, I've seemingly lived in a tornado alley of sorts when it comes to death.  Growing up--every 5 to 7 years--someone near and dear passed on.  The first "storm" blew threw when I was 3 and my grandpa died.  Since then my sister, uncle and grandparents have passed on.  My intention isn't to brag or boast, but instead to shine light on these two separate examples.  Through the death and funeral for Julie's grandma, I've tried to empathize and put myself in Julie's shoes.  Needless to say it has been a painful time. 

So, the question is... at a funeral, if you have toddlers, do you bring them forward to the casket to see your loved one? 

Julie and I were presented with this--as the visitation was beginning for her grandma.  I worried at first.  I didn't want my kids trivializing this sorrowful moment with questions and smiles.  And yet, it was our duty to introduce them to this painful process.  We live and die.  So, 1 by 1 Julie and I took our littlest kiddos who were wondering 'Why we're here' 'Where's G-G' up to the casket and answered their questions.  The most common was 'Why are G-G's legs covered?'

Like I said before, initially I worried--I didn't want to offend anyone or upset those grieving.  But, in retrospect we believed that this was an opportunity to talk with our kids and more importantly hammer home our faith.  And, the worry wart I am, my fears were never realized.  My kids' questions were quieter and no-one complained.  Every now and then they cut loose a little and played.  What 2 year-old doesn't wiggle from time to time?  But as a co-worker told me prior to the services, sometimes little kids running and laughing is just the levity adults need.