thread: How one special member dealt with the funeral of a family member.

  1. #1
    Registered User

    Jan 2006

    At this point in time I am probably the last person you should ask However, I will add my 2c to the mix having been there such a short time ago.

    Children are concrete little people. They don't have the adult connotations of death and dying and the fears that adults have. They need concise and specific answers in an age appropriate way. So, with that framework we approached it in this way with DS (2y10m) and DD (15m).

    We (the royal *we* as Greg is not here but I believe he was part of this process) addressed the death part as Daddy dying and being a star in the sky. We thought *Heaven* was too abstract a concept however DS will tell you Daddy is in Heaven.

    We did a viewing with the little ones. Why?? Well, they went to bed one night after having a wonderful day with Daddy and getting kisses and cuddles before bed only to wake up and be told Daddy had died. I felt they needed a concrete image rather than a perpetual feeling like he had just *left* IYKWIM. However, we did a viewing with just me and the little ones. I did not want the adult experience of death / dying / loss to taint their experience. They recognised DH immediately and saw him as sleeping.

    Before the viewing we had done preparations to explain what was happening. The viewing was the day before the funeral. Greg was buried. We explained that Daddy's body was broken, his heart had stopped working and he could not be fixed. We explained that what we would see was Daddy's shell because Daddy was already a star in the sky and his shell was left behind. We explained that sometimes there is a snail in the shell and sometimes there is just a shell. What we would see is just the shell.

    We explained that we would be going to Church to celebrate Daddy's life. We were sad because Daddy had gone. Tears were not hidden and it was explained we were crying because we loved Daddy very much and we were sad because he was not able to stay here with us. We explained that it was ok to be sad and to cry because we missed him. It was not hidden when the men OR the women cried. It was important for DS to see that men can cry too when they are sad.

    We talked about the burial after seeing Daddy's *shell*. We told DS (and DD but what she comprehends is a little less obvious) that when a body is broken and doesn't work anymore it either gets turned into ash (like Caitlyn) or is placed into a coffin and into the ground. It isn't Daddy that is going into the ground because he is already a star in the sky, but just Daddy's broken shell.

    How did it all turn out?? I think it was ok. I think it was distressing for some people there to see my babies sprinkle the coffin with flower petals but my immediate family and my IL's were extremely supportive. My IL's lost another child at 6yo (DH was 7.5yo and BIL's 4.5 and 3) I think they have regrets about not including the children. The 4.5yo still has residual issues about death and dying to this day. My FIL actually said to me before the viewing / funeral etc that he supported me 100% which was lovely.

    So from my experience, I think it has helped the babies (and DS in particular) to process this very sad time in our lives. It was good for me to give them concrete examples that they can deal with. I still get asked questions and that is ok. I get asked if I am crying, why are you sad Mummy and DD wipes away the tears and rubs or pats me on the shoulder / back. But that is ok. I am sad. I have lost the most important person in my world.

    Happy to answer any questions you may have. Ultimately you need to make a decision you are comfortable with but remember that children don't have the same experiences you have. How you approach this can colour how they deal with death / dying / loss for some time. Deal with it in a positive way despite the sadness

  2. #2
    BellyBelly Member

    Oct 2006
    Adelaide, SA

    Michelle, I just wanted to say that how you handled this tragic situation with your children is truly commendable.

    Thank you so much for sharing

  3. #3
    BellyBelly Member

    Jul 2007
    in a super happy place!

    Michelle - thankyou so much for sharing, not only your situation but your thoughts on the effect on the children. We recently had a funeral for a family member (on my side) and my MIL repeatedly told DH it wasn't acceptable for us to take DS to the funeral. I am so glad we did, because although it was hard for him to see people crying and he wasn't 100% sure about the coffin, he handled the day so well. Your post has reinforced the fact that we did the right thing by taking him.

  4. #4
    BellyBelly Member

    Jul 2007

    Michelle, thank you so much for sharing this. You have touched me so much with your honesty and openess. When the time comes (very soon) for me to explain to my children about their Grandma and where she is I now know exactly what to tell them. Thank you from the bottom of my heart

  5. #5
    Registered User

    Dec 2005

    Michelle - thank you so much for sharing that. I have seen this questioned asked on BB often, and it will be a good reference point to others in the future.
    When my best friends' dad suddenly passed away, she was unsure whether or not to take her children. I encouraged her to take them, to say goodbye. She is so thankful for that as she felt it helped her, and the kids.
    So again, thank you Michelle.

  6. #6
    BellyBelly Life Subscriber

    Nov 2008

    Thanks so much for sharing Michelle. Your babies are blessed to have such a loving, caring and understanding mother to help them through this. I don't know you personally, but have read a lot of your posts about loosing Greg, I'd really like to thankyou for sharing what must be the most horrendous experience of your life, you've done it with grace, dignity and honesty which is so admirable. I wish you and your family all the best for the future.

  7. #7
    BellyBelly Member

    Jan 2007

    Michelle, that was lovely to read and has brought tears to my eyes. I totally agree with you and wish that I had someone like you to deal with death the way you have. I have issues to this day as it was never discussed when I was a child so now I pretend it isn't happening which is distressing to people around me. I don't handle grief at all well. I only hope I can change that with my own children in the way that you have. It's so sad that you have all had to deal with this terrible loss.

  8. #8
    Thankful for the kindness of my 2012 RAK making me Life member

    Jul 2007

    You are an strong beautiful person for explaining in such a lovely way to your kids what has happened and also sharing this with BB community as it is a question that is often asked.

  9. #9
    BellyBelly Member

    Feb 2006
    NSW Central Coast

    Thankyou Michelle for sharing this with us. I have been reading your story from the begining. We are all lucky to have you as a (however small) part of our lives here in BB land. I think you are dealing with truely inconceiveable situation with such grace and strength. Thankyou for giving us insight into your life at the moment. I have learnt alot from you.

  10. #10
    BellyBelly Member

    May 2008

    Hi Michelle,
    I just wanted to say that I think you are so strong and brave, and a wonderful mother. I wish you and your family all the joy in the world for your future.
    Last edited by Kel001; May 19th, 2010 at 04:23 PM.

  11. #11

    Jul 2009
    Out North, Vic

    Wow Michelle you have handled things amazingly under the circumstances, i'm sure in years to come your children will be ever so thankful for including them and explaining things.

    My mum lost a son (my brother) when i was 4, my brother and i found him but were not allowed to attend the funeral, we were told he is a star in the sky aswell but i guess were not included in the grieving process, as people have passed in our family my father constantly treated us as if we were those little kids and to be honest it upsets me quite a bit, when people were sick he sheltered us even when we did not want to be sheltered.
    i SHOULD have been allowed to say goodbye, he was and still is a very loved little boy to me.

    Thankyou for sharing the process with your children... your an amazing woman.

  12. #12
    BellyBelly Member
    Add Cupcake on Facebook

    Nov 2008
    North Haven, NSW

    Michelle, I just wanted to say that how you handled this tragic situation with your children is truly commendable.

    Thank you so much for sharing
    Well said!

    You truly are an amazing woman Michelle!

  13. #13

    Dec 2005
    not with crazy people

    What a truely beautiful woman you are. I love that you are being so open, frank and positive with your children about everything that has happend.

  14. #14
    It is my belief.. that the truth is generally preferable, AD

    Oct 2007
    ★ nor here nor there ★

    Thankyou so much for sharing Michelle . I think that was the most beautiful way to explain to your little one's about the passing of their much loved father, so eloquently put, and in ways they can understand.
    We have taken DD to funerals and feel that by being included whether they fully understand or not, is an important part of life.
    Take care xxoo

  15. #15
    2013 BellyBelly RAK Recipient.

    May 2007

    Thank you for sharing Michelle. I think that you will be helping many many people by putting this out there. Thank you xxx

  16. #16
    BellyBelly Member

    Feb 2007
    On the beautiful Gold Coast!

    Michelle thank you so much for sharing this with us. I think the way you described "the shell" is a great way for children to understand. DD has been asking about the cemetary quite a bit lately as we pass it going to DS's daycare & I tried so hard to say it nicely that its the place where bodies are buried after a person dies (although I tell her the inside of the person goes to heaven... I can now explain it like the shell is buried... much easier for a child to understand )

    Massive to you xxx

  17. #17
    BellyBelly Member

    Feb 2008
    Near the Snowies!

    Thanks for sharing Michelle. I think the way you explained it and involved them in the whole process was a lovely way to go about the whole situation, as horrible as it is. I'm sure they'll thank you for that in the future when they are old enough to really understand the concept properly. The 'shell' concept is a great way to explain it in a way that a little one can understand. It is important for them to be involved and for people to try and help them understand, it must be so confusing for them to have daddy there one minute, and the next he isn't there at all. As distressing as funerals/death can be it is important for children to be supported to and have someone try and explain it all to them.

    It's so awful that such a wonderful man was taken from his equally wonderful family, and like the other posters you have conducted yourself with honour and grace through such a horrendous experience.
    Wishing you and your family all the best xxx

  18. #18
    BellyBelly Member

    Oct 2005
    Cherry Tree Lane

    wow, what a pillar of strength you are I really feel like this post has helped so many others. in different ways- people who maybe would not have posted, wives who cannot write about the grief or there child's grief etc

    Michelle- you're simply amazing- although there will be a hole in your heart- please know that you, possibly without even realizing have taken a step forward... and we are here to listen , love and support.