DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: I was raised in a time when children, for the most part, didn’t attend wakes or burials. I wasn’t at my own grandmother’s, which took place when I was ten. I didn’t go to a wake until I was nearly graduated from high school, and it was the grandmother of my best friend.
I have been at several wakes in the past few years where children of all ages were present. I’m not sure how I feel about this. My gut tells me children may find it all frightening, especially seeing someone they know laid out in a casket.
Am I just old-fashioned? --- NOT SURE IF IT’S RIGHT
DEAR NOT SURE IF IT’S RIGHT: I don’t think you’re particularly old-fashioned, but rather have opinions formed by the practices you grew up with.
Whether or not it’s a good idea to have children at a viewing or funeral is a subject best dealt with by the child’s immediate family, who hopefully know the child best.
There are also cultural issues that come into play. Some traditions are more inclusive than others when it comes to the rituals of death, and provide guidelines for families to follow.
Personally, I believe children above a certain age should be permitted to attend viewings and funerals if they choose and if there are not strong parental objections. It’s an opportunity to both bid farewell to a loved one, and to begin grasping the concept that death is a natural part of life.