Gransnet forums


Who pays? And should a young child go to a parent’s funeral?

(63 Posts)
Fishandchips Mon 30-Oct-17 17:43:39

I’ve just learned that my daughter’s ex-partner is in a hospice. He is 52 years old and has cancer (he’s been a chain smoker and cannabis user for many years).

It was a very acrimonious split which happened when my granddaughter was just 16 months old; he treated my daughter very badly, controlling, jealous and eventually became violent and threw them out of his flat which was in his name only. He is much older than my daughter (fairly close to my age, I’m still in my 50s) and he’s always disliked my husband and I because he knew we were uncomfortable with their age difference and lifestyle choices.

Since he ended the relationship (then wanted her back, but she refused) she has struggled financially, never receiving any maintenance for their daughter. Her ex-partner has been estranged from his own family since before my daughter was in a relationship with him.

My granddaughter sees him one day per week as directed by a Court order and handover via a third party. She does love her dad and has been to see him in the hospice.

My daughter has a couple of concerns and I don’t know what to suggest, so perhaps someone could advise?

1. As far as she knows, there is no next-of-kin, apart from their daughter (she is under 10) so what happens about arranging a funeral and funeral costs - will it be my daughter’s responsibility? He is an atheist afaik.

2. My daughter is very upset, obviously thinking of the love they did once share and has gently explained to my granddaughter that he is dying and they both cried. His pet dog died recently so I think she knows a little about death/dying. However, my daughter has never been to a funeral and when the time comes, she thinks that she should take her daughter too.

I am not sure what to think about children at funerals; I certainly was not allowed to go when I was a child, my granddad died when I was nine and I went to school as usual but then back to my gran’s house where all the funeral attendees went for tea and cakes. The first funeral I went to was when I was newly married and my FIL died, it was a cremation and I was shocked when the curtains parted and the coffin moved behind them on a conveyer belt.

Is it generally thought that a young child should go to the funeral of a parent? I imagine that it would be a cremation, perhaps it would be traumatic for her?

I haven’t been to many funerals but I don’t think I’ve seen children at them, but it’s possible that there may have been one or two present.

I live overseas and if my daughter wants me to go over to be with her I will.

suzied Tue 31-Oct-17 07:14:45

Of course there’s no legal requirement to actually hold a funeral service as such. The body can just be cremated and the ashes scattered in the garden at the crem. No one has to attend if they don’t want to. Money can be taken from the estate of the departed to pay for the crem or if there’s no money there are certain benefits than can be claimed so it would be down to the taxpayer.

mostlyharmless Tue 31-Oct-17 07:30:03

Funerals today are very different from a generation ago. They can be personalised to suit the mourners and the deceased.
As your grandaughter will be the chief mourner from what you say, it can be made into a very child friendly funeral. Definitely no sliding away of the coffin at the end.
Your daughter and grandaughter can choose the music and poems and write the eulogy.
At my fil's funeral (he had been a keen beekeeper) his 7 greatgrandchildren decorated wooden bees which were fastened to his wicker coffin by the grandchildren. The eulogy was given by his eldest grandchild.
At my sister's funeral, nephews and nieces placed drawings, daisychains and messages on the coffin.
Funerals are a celebration of life and I would think it good for your grandaughter to say goodbye as long as she is supported by her mother and/or grandparents.

Grandma70s Tue 31-Oct-17 08:01:23

suzied, not many people realise there is no need to have a funeral at all. I have told my children I don’t want one. If they want to mark the occasion they should go out for a nice meal. That would be something they would actually enjoy. If it’s lunch, young children can go as well.

You can leave your body to medical research, which is an important use for it, and also has the advantage of avoiding the need for a funeral. My father did this.

Jalima1108 Tue 31-Oct-17 10:48:36

I don't think your daughter should be expected to pay for the funeral; if her ex-partner had been in the services, then service charities such as RBL or SSAFA may help.
Otherwise there is a government scheme:

Our youngest went to her grandma's funeral when she was 9 and coped with it well. She was upset but would have felt worse, I think, had she not been allowed to go.

humptydumpty Tue 31-Oct-17 11:40:14

Grandma70s I am of the same mindset as you, I wouldn't take a young child to their parent's funeral. I'm interested in your comment about not having a funeral at all. I personally would prefer that, unless my DD felt otherwise.

Christinefrance Tue 31-Oct-17 13:01:21

I think at 10 the child can decide for herself. If the process is explained in a sympathetic way first then the decision should be left to her. Make contingency plans for a last minute change of mind.
You have my sympathy. flowers

Craicon Tue 31-Oct-17 14:54:09

Here in Ireland, it would be highly unusual for young children not to attend a funeral. Lots of my DS's friends have attended the funerals of various grandparents and I think it's helps them come to terms with the finality of death much more easily.
In fact, I resent my parents for not allowing me to attend my grandparents funerals when I was younger and living in the U.K.
I'm sure it would have helped me to cope better with my father's funeral when I was an older teen.

mcem Tue 31-Oct-17 15:03:42

I can't be the only one who, on reaching the end of this very sad thread, was presented with an ad above the message box - an ad for life insurance for parents.
Surely GNHQ has enough control to ensure that such a tactless juxtaposition is avoided.
Can't report it as inappropriate or as spam but I think this ticks both of those boxes.
Explanation or apology please GNHQ ?

Craicon Tue 31-Oct-17 15:21:21

I thought the ad boxes were based on your own browsing history/google searches rather than specifically through Gransnet? Maybe I'm wrong?

paddyann Tue 31-Oct-17 15:39:54

Grandma70's its not fashionable ,it has always been the way for some families,my upbringing was as part of an Irish/Scots family and we always went to funerals ,always saw the dead relative in their coffin and accepted that death is part of normal life .My husband on the other hand was raised in a Scots protestant household and he wasn't allowed to go to his beloved GF 's funeral when he was 8...he was furious then ,is still angry now 50 odd years later and cant understand why it was thought he shouldn't be there .Its odd to me that anyone would keep a child away from a parents funeral even a very young child

Anniebach Tue 31-Oct-17 15:56:11

Nothing odd in keeping a small child away from a parents funeral, if the death was sudden, the remaining parent may not be in Any way able to comfort the child because they are in shock and totally bereft . Not good for a small child, father in the coffin .Mother distressed , grandparents distressed .

Grandma70s Tue 31-Oct-17 16:44:32

It may be something to do with religious outlook. I remember many of us (certainly all my family) were very shocked to see that President Kennedy’s very young children were at his funeral. We assumed, perhaps wrongly, that it was something that Roman Catholics did.

As far as I know there were no children’s bereavement counsellors when my husband died, so we were able to use our common sense. Common sense said they were too young to be subjected to a funeral. I agree with Anniebach.

mcem Tue 31-Oct-17 17:32:14

Craicon I thought that too but it clearly is not the case as there is nothing in my browsing history that would link to this. With no reply from GNHQ I have reported my post and hope to get some sort of explanation. Meantime l 'd be very interested to know if I was the only poster to see that ad on that thread.

mcem Tue 31-Oct-17 17:42:28

GNHQ inform me that they 'would never knowingly allow an ad to be used in a tactless way' and that the ad is 'unrelated to the site".
Coincidence then or a need for more caeful screening?

Jalima1108 Tue 31-Oct-17 18:01:35

mcem I have put an ad blocker on now because whenever I contributed to a thread on GN I would find that ads would pop up relating to what I had posted.

I find it quite sinister. I don't think it is just GN though, to be fair it happens with other sites too.

Swanny Tue 31-Oct-17 18:31:04

My father died when I was 15 and my sister just 11. I was not asked if I wanted to go to the funeral (burial), I was expected to be there. However, my mother decided my sister was too young and sent her to stay with a relative. Over 30 years later she attended the funeral of dad's elder brother and told me she finally felt she'd said goodbye to dad.

TwiceAsNice Tue 31-Oct-17 18:50:44

Grandma70's I wanted to go to my grandmothers funeral because I wanted to be part of it and to say goodbye. I was furious that my younger cousins went and not me. My cousins and their parents lived in my grandmothers house so they saw her everyday.I saw her every week when my Dad took me with him. The coffin was in a bedroom upstairs before the funeral and my cousin and I had seen her in it so I didn't see how a funeral could be worse than seeing a dead person. I don't think it's strange at all Anniebach for a child to go to a parents funeral or any other relatives, I think it's awful if they don't. My daughter said she'd have been very upset if she hadn't been allowed to go to her brothers.

Grandma70s Tue 31-Oct-17 19:56:15

Thank you for answering my question, TwiceAsNice. I can see you thought you were being treated unfairly.

I never had any desire to go to a funeral myself. It never entered my head that I might be missing something. Children didn’t go to funerals and that was that, in our world.

mcem Tue 31-Oct-17 20:02:31

jalima I take your point but I had not contributed to the thread when that ad appeared. My concern was that, if it appeared randomly, it could be very upsetting to some posters - I reiterate that it did not in any way apply to me.
I too find it rather sinister and will have to check out adblockers.

Iam64 Tue 31-Oct-17 20:03:26

TwiceAsNice, I was 13 when my maternal gran died. My parents insisted I was too young to go to her funeral. I argued, unsuccessfully and our paternal gran was drafted in too look after us that day. I felt bereft and heading for 60 years later, I still wish I'd been able to go. I was mature enough to realise my parents believed they were doing the right thing and protecting me and it was one of those moments when I realised they weren't always right, no matter how well meaning and loving they were.
I'm relieved that the notion that by keeping children away from something so significant you are somehow doing right by them, is no longer held by the majority.
The first funeral of a young parent I went to about 25 years ago, involved her own children aged 2, 5 and 7. The children's close friends also attended, with their own parents as they'd all been through nursery and school together. We all felt that this was a great support to her own children, as well as helping our own children

Grandma70s Tue 31-Oct-17 20:52:10

Perhaps it depends how important you think funerals are. I think in our family they were not considered very important, just something that had to be done (because no-one knew it didn’t have to be done). Thus I had no sense at all that I was missing anything, and was very happy to go off to stay with young cousins, along with my elder brother.

paddyann Tue 31-Oct-17 23:53:34

grandma70''s I dont think people look forward to a funeral but I've never met anyone who didn't go to the funeral of a close relative,in fact one year ,about 12 years ago we went to 17 family and close friends funerals ..2 on the same day so OH went to one and I went to the other , it was harrowing ,wondering who would be next..but we went because it was important to show support to the immediate family ..funerals aren't just about the dead you know ,they give the living, firstly,purpose in the first days and support from friends who will come along and TALK about the deceased and give a great deal of comfort .Its all a big part of the grief process

durhamjen Wed 01-Nov-17 00:04:41

It never crossed my mind that children would not go to funerals.
My children and grandchildren have always gone to funerals.
My youngest son wouldn't remember going to his first one as he was in a carrycot!

TwiceAsNice Wed 01-Nov-17 07:27:02

I am64 I'm very sorry you weren't allowed to go I see you feel very similar to me. As I said research shows a much better outcome grief wise now if children go to funerals and at least it means they don't harbour regrets for a long time like us. Every child I know who has attended has said it was the right decision made

f77ms Wed 01-Nov-17 07:29:30

My X husband was excluded from his dearly loved Grandmothers funeral when he was 7 , he said he was devastated and felt that his parents thought that he didn`t matter enough to go . I think the children should be asked if they want to go , death is a very natural part of life .