The good Lord has given our family plenty of hardships. Brother #3 died in 1986 in a drowning accident. Brother #2 died in a car accident in 1996. In 86 I was just a young teen and I remember only parts of my grieving process. What I do remember is that I felt all alone. I was not actually “all alone” but as I struggled through the viewing/visitation and the funeral and the post-funeral meal I noticed that many people my age were missing from this event. Now, don’t get me wrong- if you are one of these people- I am not still upset about this and I do know that this was not anyone’s fault. People get scared when someone dies. They don’t know what to say or do. They are afraid that they will say the wrong thing. They are afraid that they will make it worse if they screw up.
This said, there is no way that simply coming to a funeral will get messed up (unless, of course, you come there planning to get into a fist fight or something- lol). When a child dies, the deceased child’s siblings need their friends. Even if the friends are afraid. I believe this is true for any age child. I remember many of my friends were there but I also remember seeing the parents of some of my friends but not my friends. It will not harm your child to go to a funeral. It will actually help them understand the process of what happens when someone dies. Just their presence will help the children who lost a sibling. Some kids will ask questions of their parents and this is okay. Some kids will want to play and goof around. This is excellent! This is a moment of normalcy in a very “not normal” event. Some kids will cry. Some kids will get angry. Some kids will curl up into a ball and try to disappear (that was me).
So, my sermon for today: Please do not be afraid of funerals! Going and saying nothing is just fine! Going and saying something stupid is just fine! Bring your children to funerals- it will help them not be afraid to go when they are grown and will help them understand. A hug, an “I’m sorry”, a “life sucks”, an “I remember this about so and so”, all these work. If you truly believe you should do something to help, do not just say, “if I can do anything, let me know”. Offer to help with a meal, offer to go for a walk, offer to take a child for a couple hours, offer to do some laundry, offer to just sit with them and say nothing, etc. A grieving person cannot always communicate their needs. If you don’t know what to do, ask a trusted, close friend or family member.
Funerals are not to be feared. They are a celebration of a life that was lived!