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Bereavement

Taking it in their stride

(44 Posts)
NanKate Tue 17-Jan-17 22:32:03

We are staying at my DS's house for a couple of days in order to attend his mother-in-laws funeral tomorrow. I have been rather apprehensive about being with our two GSs nearly 6 and 4 as I wanted to make sure DH and I didn't say anything to upset them about their Grandma, who they were close to.

Well over supper they brought up the subject of tomorrow's funeral which they are attending. The little one said Grandma was very old (70) and I'll that is why she died. The older grandson said she was ill but not old. Then they said, do you think she is now a ghost and watching us. I said she will be keeping an eye on you as she loved you a lot, which fortunately stopped the talk of ghosts. The eldest said you know Grandpa could get himself a new wife now shock.

The children seemed so matter of fact, not at all upset, but did comment that mummy had been very sad. So they obviously are aware of the sadness their mum feels.

I told them we were having a buffet at the Wake which pleased them immensely.

So please keep your fingers crossed that they remain as calm and collected at the funeral itself. I know I will be very tearful.

paddyann Tue 17-Jan-17 22:59:08

I think children are more matter of fact about death,my grandaughters other granny runs a care home and the wee one often visits,she'll tell me about who is very sick or who is living in their bed and who died recently,usually she tells the time of death and the fact the family/partner were there.Its a very healthy attitude I think.When we weere small being from an irish catholic family ,kids were always included in life events,I've never been worried or scared of death or dead bodies and my kids were raised the same way

Luckygirl Tue 17-Jan-17 23:16:52

When two deaths occurred in very quick succession when my first two children were small (about 6 and 7) I found them in their bedroom with chairs and tables upturned and covered in sheets. I asked them what they were playing and they calmly said: "This is a dying machine - you go in that end and come out here dead!" I did a bit of a double take as it seemed so callous, but in reality it was their way of making the incomprehensible concrete and therefore manageable.

kittylester Wed 18-Jan-17 06:46:32

I think they will be fine Kate. And, if they say something that seems 'inappropriate', it will lighten the mood and no one will take offence.

I think I've mentioned that our DGD aged 5 drew a picture of a rocket taking her 'other' granddad to heaven and has it on her bedroom wall. She talks about it often. I think it's healthy for them to chat about it.

I hope the funeral goes well. flowers

Izabella Wed 18-Jan-17 08:46:46

I find this so reassuring that your two G'S's can talk freely and be so well supported. I personally think the subject is hidden too far away in this modern world. Children are very matter of fact as previous posters have said. As long as questions are answered honestly that's the main thing.

Christinefrance Wed 18-Jan-17 09:01:54

Yes children understand much more than we sometimes think. They are quite pragmatic about things. We need to be honest when telling them about things like death, no need for any great detail bit no euphemisms either. I remember a lady asking my granddaughter then aged about 7 what her daddy did, she replied oh my daddy is dead, the poor woman was rendered speechless.

rosesarered Wed 18-Jan-17 09:05:59

Young children are matter of fact Nan because it is incomprehensible to them, also because ( at the moment) it doesn't impact on them or their lives.Later on, they will miss her, and possibly ask when she is coming back, especially the younger boy.
Then she will begin to fade away for them as life moves on.
My own DGS used to ask will 'they have to stay in Heaven for a long time?Will they be back for Christmas'? Etc because nothing is final to a child.
So, they will be fine at the funeral, and will enjoy the adult attention and the 'Party' afterwards.This is how it should be.smile
It will be hard for your DIL Nan 💐

Anya Wed 18-Jan-17 09:12:18

My co-grandmother died just over 2 years ago. Our shared GC, both boys, were just 8 and just 4. They were saddened but not distraught. The older boy asked to go to the funeral and this was, eventually after a lot of heart-searching, granted. He cried, along with everyone else, but I think that helped him understand and come to terms with losing 'grandma'.

The younger boy talked about her more, at least to me. He asked if I could please be his 'grandma' now. This confused me as I was always 'nana'. He tried to explain that now that grandma had gone he'd like me to be both 'grandma' and 'nana'. I wasn't sure how his mind was working on this but I agreed to be both and that made him happy.

They both occasionally talk about 'grandma' in terms of affection, so she's not forgotten.

I'll be thinking of you today NanKate flowers

Anya Wed 18-Jan-17 09:14:23

PS I think it's a good thing that memories continue to be shared and those who have died are remembered in this way and through photographs.

ninathenana Wed 18-Jan-17 09:20:00

I'm sorry for your families loss Nankate

I agree with roses

I know it's fiction but I am reminded of the current 'Enders story and how badly the character Jack has handled explaining the loss of his children's mother and aunt.
I think it's best to explain in age appropriate terms the death of someone close. It's not a good idea to "waffle".
My friend wouldn't let her then 11 yr old attend her grandmother's funeral. The daughter has never forgiven her.

annsixty Wed 18-Jan-17 09:42:57

Aged 11 I wasn't allowed to do to my feathers funeral and it left me lost.
As this was 1949 he had lain in our "front room" since his death on Sunday until the funeral on Wednesday. I walked through that room many times a day so I wasn't shielded from thast aspect of death but it wasn't deemed suitable for my cousins and me to go to the service.

Swanny Wed 18-Jan-17 09:52:09

He tried to explain that now that grandma had gone he'd like me to be both 'grandma' and 'nana'. I wasn't sure how his mind was working on this but I agreed to be both and that made him happy. Anya I think that's lovely.

Nina My friend wouldn't let her then 11 yr old attend her grandmother's funeral. The daughter has never forgiven her My younger sister was 11 when our father died and DM decided she was too young to go to the funeral. About 25 years later she attended the funeral of his elder brother and told me she felt as though she had finally buried her dad.

flowers for all who are bereaved

Morgana Wed 18-Jan-17 10:01:33

One of the 7 year olds I used to teach told me her grandma had flown up into the sky! This prompted quite a discussion as some of the other kids didn't think this was possible!

radicalnan Wed 18-Jan-17 10:17:28

I used to use a kaleidescope to explain death to my kids, I showed them how there are lovely, but changing patterns and all part of the same thing...........sometimes people are nearer to us but never gone, still there part of the pattern.

Will be thinking of you all. Bereavement is tough.

Cagsy Wed 18-Jan-17 10:33:45

Not quite the same but I took my 2 young DGS to their Great Grandma's funeral. She was their other Nan's Mum and she and their Dad wanted to be able to focus on the funeral but wanted the boys to be part of it too. They were about 5 and 7 at the time and I had them with me towards the back of the creamatorium. Other mourners seemed surprised but pleased to see them and the boys took it in their stride although they had been very fond Nanna N.
I left them with my DD after the service and they went to the little gathering afterwards with her and evidently were the perfect antidote to all the sadness.
Death is the only certainty in this life and if we can make it part of the natural process I think children learn to accept it. It must be very difficult though when it's their parents or even sibling and my heart goes out to anyone in that situation

M0nica Wed 18-Jan-17 10:43:02

When DS was 9 a boy he sometimes played with died in a road accident, which upset him. That day was the day we went to the library on the way home from school. DS chose the MacDonald book of the body and an American book describing what death was, what happened to the body (physically) and different ways the body was disposed of and the different traditions about what followed death.

We got home, I sat on the floor with DS and his younger sister and with the books we covered every aspect of hatching, matching and dispatching and how the body worked. We were still sitting there talking when DH got home from work an hour and a half later, which brought our discussions to a natural end and both children wandered off quite happily to talk to their DF and ask when supper would be ready because they were so hungry.

Diddy1 Wed 18-Jan-17 12:13:23

Thinking of you NanKate

Nelliemaggs Wed 18-Jan-17 13:48:07

I was 10 when my baby brother died. We were got up and told simply that he was dead and packed off the school where the head master made the announcement in morning assembly and we were left to get on with the day. No one even put an arm around us. When we got home we were told never to speak of his death and didn't dare to cry.

Only my 12 year old brother was allowed to go to the funeral and I was sent to walk my younger siblings to a neighbour a little way off. As bad luck would have it the hearse stopped us en route and I was asked the way to my own address and there was the small white coffin. I cried all the way to the neighbour's house and can't see a child's coffin without wanting to cry.

With best wishes NanKate that all goes well today.

My parents were clearly no psychologists and I am relieved to think that my grandchildren will be helped if need be to deal with the loss of me

shysal Wed 18-Jan-17 13:58:39

I shall be thinking of you all tomorrow, Kate. I am pleased to hear that the boys are attending, it seems right to me. flowers

Bellanonna Wed 18-Jan-17 14:00:55

Really sad story Nelliemaggs x

cornergran Wed 18-Jan-17 15:26:59

I think as the years have gone on attitudes have changed, or I hope so nelliemaggs, that was a truly horrific experience, so sad. My mother in law died in South Wales 33 years ago, our sons were 8 and 5. The tradition in her village was for women not to go to the crematorium, often a service was held in the home. Her funeral was in her local Church followed by the crematorium where I and my sister in law were the only women in attendance, there were many disapproving looks. We were persuaded it was not the right thing for our sons to attend either so they stayed with a friend's gentle and kind parents locally before coming to a family members home afterwards. We have always regretted that they didn't come with us, both as adults have asked why and there isn't really an answer other than we were swayed by people older than ourselves and it was the way of the time in the area and perhaps elsewhere. Beliefs and traditions do move on. Kate's grandchildren are being supported and included and that feels so much better for everyone, my thoughts have been with them today.

grannylyn65 Wed 18-Jan-17 15:41:27

My mother died when I was 14 and wasn't allowed to go to the funeral, I am 67 and still haunted.

kittylester Wed 18-Jan-17 15:50:10

My baby brother died, aged two and a half when I was 6. I was never actually told that it had happened but recall finding my mum in tears quite often and being told off for asking why. We did visit the grave every Friday after school to replace the flowers so I imagine I just put two and two together.

Kupari45 Wed 18-Jan-17 16:00:52

Hello Kate.
Children are very resilient. As long as you talk to them in a calm way and answer questions they just except death. They are with loving Grandparents, so I'm sure they will be fine. It is important to talk about the other Grandma as often as they mention her. You sound as if you are both giving your D-I-L lots of support. She must be very sad. Thinking of you all.
Brenda

Legs55 Wed 18-Jan-17 17:40:57

First Funeral I attended was my Grampa's, I was 11, it prepared my for the loss of my DGF when I was 16. My Granma & Granny died went I was younger, I was aware but little was said. My DF died when I was 23 which was sad but not unexpected.

My DGS wasn't quite 3 when my DH died, his beloved Gramps, my DD talked to him & he still remembers Gramps now (he will be 7 in March). The other day at swimming he was talking about Granddads with a friend, DGS promptly informed his friend that Gramps was dead - bit of a conversation stopper but pure honesty.grin

I wear 2 gold chains & last year DGS asked me why I wear 2 chains, I told him one is mine & other belonged to Gramps, his response "are you looking after it for him", I confirmed I am - he's happy. DD also has a photo of myself & DH at the top of her stairs which he sees every day.smile

Best policy is to be honest & age appropriate with small children, they will ask questions but also accept honest answers, don't ever make it impossible to talk about their loss, it can be hard when you're grieving but children are curious. As far as my DGS is concerned Gramps is in Heaven & watching over him.

flowers for those dealing with loss in their family