Wednesday, March 11, 2009

On Life, Death and Our Children

I have never felt so inadequate or so much like an adult as when I attended my friend's mothers funeral a few weeks ago. I was alone in attending and unlike other funerals I didn't have my grandmother, or my father or my husband to lean on. As I sat there listening to my friend and her sister eulogize their mother with such tremendous poise and grace I felt that we were passing into a new phase of our lives. Our parents are dying now. We have officially grown up.

Then I thought back to my childhood and remembered a few of my school friends whose parents passed away due to long illnesses while we were still in grade school. In first grade I celebrated my birthday with cupcakes at 8 a.m. so that the whole class could attend a fellow classmates fathers funeral. I do not remember seeing the little girl much throughout the day but I often wonder if she derived any comfort at all from seeing her entire class sitting in the pews and being there for her.

In sixth grade it happened all over again and this time with a deeper understanding. We girls were exceptionally weepy because despite being conscious of it or not we were all yearning to pull away from our mothers while at the same time still desperately needing their guidance and wisdom. I know that having the whole class present at my friends mothers funeral was consoling to my friend and a bit of a needed distraction.

However, now I wonder if parents would be so quick to allow their children to attend the funeral of a classmates parent like we did. It was a field trip of sorts and one that was discussed in class prior to attending and afterwards. Coming from a family of many elderly relatives I had already seen my fair share of funerals but now I know there are many parents who spare their children this experience. Would they allow such a field trip in school's now? I kind of doubt it. We like to spare our children from bad or sad things these days. But isn't that part of growing up?

How do you talk to your children about death when they are six and then when they are twelve? When a friends parent dies do you make up a story or have an honest talk about your beliefs and what death really means? Would you allow your child to attend a classmates parents funeral?

On an entirely different note:
LeapFrog has launched 1 Million Reading Hours in conjunction with the NEA’s National Reading Month, to bring attention to literacy and to encourage families to make time to read together. By pledging to set aside at least 10 minutes a day, parents can contribute to the national goal of 1 million reading hours committed. Enter the giveaway by posting a comment stating how much time you plan to pledge in the LeapFrog 1 Million Reading Hours Campaign. A winner will be chosen randomly at the months end, and he or she will receive one (green) Tag reader + 5 books (chosen by LeapFrog) for personal use, as well as an expanded-memory LeapFrog School Tag reader + 10 books (chosen by LeapFrog) to donate to their local library!


  1. A friends daughter died over the weekend and I am anxious to see if there are a lot of kids there. She was only 11 and it is heartbreaking. I think that it is a way for kids to see it, deal with it and begin to move past it.


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  2. I think it's important to have age appropriate discussions about death, when it happens. And obviously, grounded in one's faith and beliefs. I don't think you do your child any service by making up stories. We all have to deal with death eventually...even of our goldfish. So being frank and honest with your kids helps prepare them as they get older.....But no, I don't think I'd go along with a funeral fieldtrip. I'm not a funeral person anyway.....I don't want one when I die, and I hope none of my loved ones want one. I just don't like them!!

    Now for I comment here? If so, I pledge well more than 10 minutes a day. Aiden's favorite book is The Little Engine That Could, and I can't tell you how many times a day I read that book. And fifty million others. That boy loves his books.

  3. I think that is a hard one to answer. When I was in middle school mom took me to the funeral of a girl in my girl scout troop who died of cancer. The church was packed with all her family and friends (school age and adults). I guess it depends on how you were raised.

    I think you need to explain to children the truth of life and death. Some will understand more than others. It will just depend on the age of the child how much they will understand.

    Side note - thanks for being there! Hard to believe its been almost a month!


Thanks for commenting! It's always good to hear from a reader and not say, a robot.