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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.

Grandma70s Wed 01-Nov-17 08:13:42

I didn’t go to a funeral until I was in my 30s, as far as I remember. It was a colleague of my husband, who had died too young. I think the next one I went to was my husband’s, who also died too young.

The first family one I went to was my mother’s, I think. I ness in my late fifties. She had left her body to medical research, but it had not in end been needed, so we had (we thought) to have a funeral. It was pretty basic and did nothing to help. Then I went to those of a few aunts and uncles, because my father felt he had to go so I went as company to him. I didn’t go to those of my parents- in-law, because they were twelve thousand miles away. My father’s body was accepted for medical research, so actually did some good. We had a big family lunch to mark his death. Much better.

mostlyharmless Wed 01-Nov-17 10:37:44

Death is a part of our lives. I think funerals are a positive way of dealing with loss and are now usually a celebration of the deceased's life.
This little girl loves her father and she should be able to say goodbye to him. As many posters have said people regret it for years if they're unable to go.
My eldest grandchild (8 years old) has been to several funerals including three great-grandparents. He accepts it as normal.

Grandma70s Wed 01-Nov-17 10:55:36

I imagine people only regret not having been to a funeral if funerals are made out in their family to be a big thing. To me they are neither here nor there, so it makes no difference. Nothing whatsoever to do with ‘saying goodbye’. I loved my grandparents, but have no regrets about not going to their funerals. In fact I never even thought about it until I read this thread.

mostlyharmless Wed 01-Nov-17 15:49:45

In my experience, most funerals today are not religious services. Of the seven funerals I attended last year (none this year thank goodness) only two had a church priest or vicar and even then most parts of those services were taken by family readings etc. The rest were organised entirely by family, without religious input.

yggdrasil Wed 01-Nov-17 16:42:42

My father died when I was 7. I wasn't allowed to the funeral, and I have all my life wished I had been.
My daughter was 9 when my grandfather died, she had known him well and asked to go. My mother and stepfather objected loudly, but it wasn't their decision, and I took her.
It made it all very stressful, but it was the right thing to do.
In my ex's family, it was expected all the family including babes in arms would go. It's a rite of passage as are weddings and christenings.

Grandma70s Wed 01-Nov-17 17:04:39

Interesting how many people here talk about children being ‘allowed/not allowed’ to go to a funeral. I never thought of asking to go when I was a child, and my children also took it for granted they didn’t go. If someone had begged to go, it would probably have been considered, but a small child wouldn’t know what they were asking to go to. My younger child was six when his father died.

I can only think that my family’s attitude to funerals must be different from most. I would have loved not to go to any funeral I have been obliged to go to. I can’t imagine wanting to go, as an adult or as a child.

humptydumpty Wed 01-Nov-17 17:11:18

Grandma70s we are the same person! I remember when my father was terminally ill and I was working on the other side of the world, my mother told me not to come back for the funeral, because it would make no difference to my father - and I agree. My mother died a few years ago and my brother organised an open coffin before the service, and thought it odd that I didn't want to take part in the viewing, but I wanted to remember my mother as she was in life, that was much more important to me.

Ilovecheese Wed 01-Nov-17 17:16:49

I think I would have preferred not to see my mother's body, but I had to because I had to do the identification, as she died very suddenly.
But in the event it was o.k. because she just 'wasn't there', if you know what I mean.

Fishandchips Wed 06-Dec-17 15:43:17

Just an update.

My daughter’s (abusive) ex-partner died a few days ago. She is distraught; she told me “I’ve been saying over the past year that I wish he was dead, and now he is!”

I think she feels it is partly her fault that he has died....but he was a heavy cannabis user and since before I’d ever met him had been a chain smoker. Apparently the tumour from the lung cancer had gone up to his throat so he could barely talk or breathe in his last days. He had discharged himself from the hospice and died at a lady friend’s house.

My granddaughter cried when she first heard, but does not want to go to his funeral. My daughter still doesn’t know where it is going to be, indeed how or whom is going to pay for it. The lady friend was quite hostile to my daughter, but she did find out where his body is right now and wants to go and visit to say her ‘last goodbyes’.

He never did get in touch with any blood relatives (his parents possibly very elderly if still alive and I think he had one or two siblings, but he was estranged from them all - my daughter had never met them or knew their names or contact details).

My daughter learned that her ex had about 3 or 4 hundred pounds in a couple of bank accounts, but left no will. She thinks it will have to go to the government to pay towards his student loans (they met at uni when he was a mature student). The lady friend thinks that she should have it because he ‘owed’ her money for staying over at her place.

I don’t know what happens in these situations when someone dies ‘inestate’? There is so little money, but if the government doesn’t take it would my granddaughter (his only next-of-kin as far as I know) be entitled to it?

I did tell my daughter to get at least one copy of his death certificate when it is issued so that she will be able to take my granddaughter overseas; I know that some countries such as Canada are very strict on single parents taking children into and out of the country without the other parent’s permission; I’m in the US and I’m not sure what it is like at the POE (port of entry) and we would love to bring them over here next year for a holiday.

It’s a very sad ending for him, but tbh is some ways it is a bit of a relief as he was very controlling and treated my daughter very badly.

Willow500 Wed 06-Dec-17 17:03:27

It's sad to hear this man died without resolving any of the problems he seems to have created during his life. Regardless of the way he treated your daughter they must have had some kind of bond back in time resulting in their child so it's natural she is upset but perhaps a relief your granddaughter doesn't want to attend the funeral after all. I'm not sure what the financial situation would be regarding the cash he had left - with no will I think it naturally goes to his next of kin. If there is no money available for the funeral it would be paid for by the state I believe. I would tell your daughter to get some legal advise - if they did come to her to pay for it she should know what her rights are but I'm sure they can't make someone pay for a funeral if they refuse. You are probably right to advise about the death certificate though especially if it's needed for proof of single parent status.

MissAdventure Wed 06-Dec-17 17:16:15

There state will fund the basic funeral expenses, but it has to be applied for, so not sure how it would work in this case.

Eglantine21 Wed 06-Dec-17 19:09:04

It's the local council's responsibility to provide burial. They will try to trace the family first. In this case his known family is a minor, so can't be responsible for the costs. The council has first call on any money to help defray the cost of the burial.
The burial will be basic. No flowers, viewings etc.
A big but though. The council will not take over where arrangements have already been started. Who has arranged anything so far. If it was the lady he was with she could find herself liable and may be able to claim the money to defray her costs. But she would still end up the loser financially.
It's important your daughter doesn't take any of the aspects of arranging the funeral upon herself or she will make herself liable.