Everyone handles and expresses their grief differently, and how they approach attending funerals will vary, as well.
But each person should respect others’ wishes and feelings in regards to these things.
Because disrespecting someone’s wishes could be more traumatic than the actual event, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor 100peacocks recently confirmed this with her young children and her in-laws.
After feeling pushback from her family, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she was wrong for how she handled the situation.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for not listening to my in-laws about my kids going to their father’s funeral?”
The OP and her children wanted to attend her husband’s funeral.
“My husband passed away suddenly at 37 years old (pre-pandemic).”
“My children were 7 and 5 years old at the time and did not see him at the hospital as everything happened so quickly.”
“I asked my kids if they wanted to go to their dad’s funeral. Both wanted to go.”
The OP’s in-laws were against it.
“My in-laws, especially my MIL (mother-in-law), were adamant that the kids not go, as the kids will be traumatized.”
“They even tried to ask their friends and pastor to confirm that they were right.”
“Nobody confirmed either way.”
The in-laws made a scene at the funeral.
“During the private viewing, I had picked up my oldest child and walked him to where his dad laid.”
“My in-laws started sobbing and yelling while trying to hold on to my son, making it hard for us to approach the coffin.”
“After some wrangling, we were able to approach, and my son left a note for his dad and touched him out of curiosity.”
“There was no such scene with my daughter.”
The OP has had mixed feelings since then.
“To this day, my in-laws still question my judgment.”
“So far, the kids have not experienced any nightmares or fears, other than the fear of me leaving them.”
“Should I have not let them go?”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some confirmed the kids were better off by attending.
“Coincidentally, I was also seven when my dad died, and he was also 37.”
“Take it from me, your kids will be ok. It will likely take time for them to understand what happened. In the years to come, they will have questions. Their grief will be ongoing. There is no timeline.”
“Your ILs (in-laws) probably caused more trauma and confusion. You gave your kids a choice and respected their wants.”
“I am so sorry for your loss. Take care of yourself and your children. You are not alone.”
“NTA” – p3ttyb3ttie
“My mother was this way. Thinking me going to a funeral as a child (great grandmother whom I loved dearly) would traumatize me.”
“I can tell you in my case (I’m 41 now) the only ‘trauma’ I have, came from the funerals I wasn’t allowed to go to. Being able to say goodbye and have closure is a big part of the grieving process.”
“You’re most definitely NTA. They’re your kids, not hers. It’s always your call, and no one else’s.” – Llewellyn_Rutherford
“SO NTA. You absolutely did what was best. Don’t try to cover up the grief, don’t try to ignore and bury the feelings.”
“You kids needs to grieve, and they are so small, death is such a vague concept: a funeral is the “closure” they needed.”
“Plus, you ASKED THEM. They said they wanted to go. Your ILs are definitely a**holes for disregarding what you and your kids want.”
“Source: I really don’t want to sound insensitive and in NO WAY am I pretending I am in the same situation as you, it’s clearly not, yours is way worst and more difficult… But my dog died about a year ago when my kid was 5 and I make quite a lot of research on kid’s grief (we saw it coming so we had time to prepare).”
“I found ZERO, NADA, sources that said you should hide that kind of thing from your kid, or keep them away from it. NONE. Be direct, comfort them, let them grieve. You are doing a great job. They will thank you later for standing your ground for them.” – MaybeAWalrus
Others said the kids would be more traumatized by the in-laws’ behavior.
“Oh Lord, I was worried that it was going to be the opposite, that your in-laws wanted them to go and you refused to let them.”
“NTA. It’s really important for kids, even really young ones, to be given the chance to say goodbye (if they want to), and to be taken by the hand and explained as kindly and non-frighteningly but as truthfully as possible what’s happened to the person who’s died.”
“I’d argue that your in-laws were the ones who potentially made it traumatic for your kids.”
“Their reaction teaches them that death is something to be terrified of, when really it’s part of being alive, you can’t have one without the other, etc.”
“I think that grief is much easier to deal with and live with if you’re able to face what’s happened, and whilst children should never be forced to see the body of someone who’s died or even to go to the funeral, I think it’s very much to be encouraged.” – lorelorelei
“NTA. First of all, I’m sorry for your loss.”
“As someone who was in your kids’ boat almost a decade ago, it’s good that you let them see their dad one last time. I know that I’m glad I was able to go to my dad’s funeral. That kind of situation is really really tough, but as long as your kids have a good support system and know they can talk to you or a therapist about anything, it should be easier on them.”
“Your in-laws are awful to try to deprive your children of closure and seeing their father one last time.” – out4blood2643
“What weirdos. I think not getting to see their father, the man that raised them since they were babies, one last time before being put into the ground would have traumatized them way more because of the lack of closure.”
“Your in-laws’ actions were genuinely inexcusable. Disgusting behavior. I can’t fathom why they behaved that way.” – pixiegrill
Some shared their own grief stories of being forced not to go.
“When my grandfather died, we were staying with our other grandmother. Mom called and spoke to us on the phone and said she was coming home and we’d see her. (She was an only child and had been staying with her father for weeks in the hospital.)”
“I asked her how Granddaddy was doing. She said he was much better and happier and not in pain. As adults, most of us know what that means.”
“As a 7 yr old that hadn’t lost a pet yet, I did not know and took it at face value. I’m sure most of you know what my Baptist mother meant and that she meant well wanting to tell us in-person. I remember riding in the backseat of Nanny’s Bonneville babbling the whole way home about how happy I was Granddaddy wasn’t hurting anymore and how he’d be home soon to play.”
“Nanny never said a word the whole ride. Got to my parent’s house and there were a million people there. That’s where Mom told me. And that’s when I first realized adults lied to make things easier and they didn’t always know the right thing to do. Still a bit scarred over 30 years later.” – Dangerous-Prize-4545
“NTA – 40 years later I’m still mad my mother wouldn’t let my father take me to my grandfather’s funeral to say goodbye. It left a hole in my heart and that long-simmering anger.”
“Children need closure too. You did the right thing, mom.” – zippykaiyay
Though the OP felt conflicted about bringing her children to her husband’s funeral, the subReddit confirmed she did what was right for her and her children. The kids received the closure they needed, and as some Redditors assured, they’ll likely weren’t traumatized by getting to say goodbye to their father, either.