Children, funerals, life

Over the years my children have been to far to many funerals. There have been funerals for their great-grandmas, great-aunt, great-uncle, grandma and grandpa, the little girl from school and most recently their aunt. When they were young, they read passages for their great-aunt, great-grandmother and great-uncle.

When we found out that my father only had months to live, we moved him into our home, where he spent his last six months of life. When he realized it was the end, he had me take him to the hospital. The next day, I brought my children down to see him so he could say goodbye. Each child bent over so he could whisper words into each of their ears. It was the hardest thing I ever had to watch. Afterwards in the courtyard, all three children were crying but middle child took it the worst. She had spent countless hours with him, learning to tend his vegetable garden or just following him around and now she felt guilty. She wanted him to pass to heaven, she had seen the pain he had lived with the last six months of his life. Trying my best to find the right words to say to her was difficult but my father was ready to let go and that gave her peace. When it was time for his funeral, middle child and the teenage boy decided to stay home, it would be the first funeral in years that they didn’t read a passage from the bible. I knew my father would be fine with this, he was of Irish/English decent and believed that you had a party to celebrate life after someone died.

When my brother’s wife got sick with cancer, my children visited her regularly during her chemotherapy treatments. They made her smile and laugh. When she passed, they did go to the funeral home, but it was beyond difficult, she was 30 years old. For the funeral, they decided they just couldn’t attend, my husband and I were okay with this decision and so was my brother.

With all of the funerals over the years, we have talked extensively with our children about death. Therefore, when their dad and I pass, there will be no funeral home visits, no church service, instead they will gather with family and friends at our home and have a party to celebrate the life we enjoyed. Not everyone will agree with our choice, but it is our choice, and we want our children to laugh at all the silly things we said, did over the years. They can remember the sad times too, but most of all, we want them to realize we loved every minute with them.

6 Replies to “Children, funerals, life”

  1. I like your idea, and I think it’s probably the best way to deal with a loved one’s death when it is timely and expected. What I think is horrifyingly difficult is when someone dies young, or is just not ready. Then I have no idea what the right process is. I am going to Kerry’s ‘celebration of life’ on Friday, and I have no idea what to expect. I imagine it will be beautiful, but desperately sad, given her circumstances and her young family…

    1. There is no right or wrong process for when someone dies. The important thing is you are there to support family and friends in whatever way you can. When my sister-in-law passed at the young age of thirty, it was more than difficult particularly because there was her seven year old daughter who was suffering and her pain far out weighed anything I was feeling.

  2. I think that family and friends have to (and should respect) your decisions around this. Funerals in many countries are not sombre affairs with weeping over what was lost but joyful celebrations of what was had. I, personally, want one of those Diet Coke bottle shaped coffins inspired by the coffins used in Ghana. Do a Google image search on it – totally amazing. It really is about time people started to think outside the proverbial box.

    1. Very cool, who knew you could have a Diet Coke bottle shaped coffin! I, myself, am going to be cremated, then put in a cardboard box to be spread in a secret location by my children.

  3. I personally feel that memorials and funerals SHOULD be a time of celebrating one’s life and the contributions they have made in the lives of others. Both DH and I have it that there will be no visitation, no “service”, however there will be a celebration with music, food and drink for friends, family and other loved ones to gather and remember the good times – for each of us.

    1. I agree also, but it is surprising the number of family members who are angry with our decision. They believe the funeral is necessary for closure where we don’t, celebrating our life will be closure.

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