Friday, July 25, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Should children come to the funeral?

MarionFranckW

By
From page A13 | February 24, 2013 |

I was in an audience in Sacramento, listening to Alan D. Wolfelt, a man whose speech topics are not cheerful.

Wolfelt is a psychologist, workshop leader and author whose 57 books are about death, divorce, suicide and other topics that involve loss and grief. It can be difficult to listen to him, but I enjoyed the talk because I thought he was wise.

One moment, however, made me uncomfortable. It came when he said that children who are “old enough to love” are old enough to attend funerals. It reminded me of something I may have done wrong, but I’ll get back to that.

Wolfelt believes that Americans handle death poorly with a “buck up” mentality that dismisses people’s need to grieve (privately) and mourn (with others).

Rituals and ceremonies, he says, are essential to fill the gap when words are inadequate. If music brings tears, that’s a good thing. Same goes for seeing the body or bringing food or flowers. The best ceremonies, he said, provoke both tears and laughter.

He believes that, like adults, children are able to accept and deal with the reality of death, given the opportunity. In the early 1900s the average age of death in America was 47, and funerals happened all the time. Children couldn’t avoid being there, any more than they could avoid loss in their lives.

Children, and adults, have less experience with mourning nowadays because of demographics. People lead such long lives that many of us do not experience a major loss until we’re in our 40s or 50s. Many people have never been to a funeral.

Wolfelt’s suggestion that children be included in rituals, combined with his observation about demographics, returned me to an old question in my life.

————

When my mother died, I was 40 years old and had never been to a funeral. My children were 5 and 2. The older child, my daughter, and her grandma had a very loving relationship. When my mother was hospitalized, barely able to speak, she told me not to bring my daughter to the phone. It was too painful for Grandma.

My mother died in the hospital, unexpectedly, and when my husband and I prepared to return to New York for the memorial service, our daughter asked if she could come.

I considered it, but never having been to a service myself, I didn’t know what it would be like. I worried even more about the days before and after the service, when I imagined the family sitting around the house grieving. I pictured a flood of tears.

When I thought about bringing my daughter into these circumstances, it seemed cruel. What would a 5-year-old do among weeping adults?

So, based on what I imagined the week would be like, I said “no,” but in the years since that decision has stayed with me, a question mark. Beth didn’t fight me, but she was disappointed. Fortunately, we had a mature college student living with us who could stay with the children.

Beth asked me to take photos, and I said I would, until I realized later how awkward that would be. In the end, she was left out entirely.

When I got to New York, the situation was far different from what I had imagined. As Wolfelt says, Americans buck up even during periods of greatest sadness. During the whole week, nobody ever sat around and cried, although I wept in private. The atmosphere, while not jovial, was friendly and warm.

I thought to myself, “Beth could have been here. I should have let her come.”

No one else seemed to feel that way, so I tried to let go of my regret. I had made what I thought was the best decision.

————

My daughter tells me she doesn’t remember Grandma, not really. She has seen photos, of course, but she doesn’t remember making lemon bars, going to the zoo, swimming together. She does recall a minor traffic accident with Grandma driving, which I guess was quite a shock.

She does not remember, as I do, how my mother came into full flower around her grandchildren, the happiest I’d ever seen her. Her joy came out in dozens of small moments, looking at flowers with my daughter as they walked to nursery school or having a tea party at a tiny table, just the two of them. It was a relationship filled with nothing but love.

As I listened to Dr. Wolfelt I asked myself, “Would Beth remember Grandma now if she had come to New York, if she had attended the memorial service and seen the tears?”

Did my choice to block her from all that also block the memories? At the age of 5, Beth could have been old enough to remember Grandma. Why didn’t it happen?

I’m not ready to endorse Wolfelt’s recommendation regarding young children. I need to know more. But some part of me believes that in the mysterious process of experiencing grief and mourning and seeking peace, I made a mistake and cut off something precious for my daughter.

This thought brings tears anew.

— Marion Franck lives in Davis with her family. Reach her at marionf2@gmail.com

Comments

comments

.

News

Tech Trekkers boldly go into STEM fields

By Amy Jiang | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Decoding breast milk secrets reveals clues to lasting health

By Pat Bailey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

California climate change policies to hit our pocketbooks

By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A1

 
Davis braces for six days of scorching heat

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Carwash raises funds for funeral expenses

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

 
Appeals court upholds high-speed rail route

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 1 Comment

 
Unitarians will host summer camp

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Artists, photographers invited to support Yolo Basin Foundation

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Sudwerk’s sales grow, floating on a sea of dry hop lager

By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Wetlands visitors will see migrating shorebirds

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6 | Gallery

‘Bak2Sac’ free train ride program launched

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
Explorit: Wonderful wetlands right at home

By Lisa Justice | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Recycle old paint cans for free

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

 
Where your gas money goes

By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A12

STEAC needs donations of personal care items

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16, 1 Comment

 
Americans, internationals make connections

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16

Can you give them a home?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16 | Gallery

 
.

Forum

Trio disagrees on best option

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Thanks for emergency help

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Commenting system to change

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10, 32 Comments

 
Support these local restaurants

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
Let’s get the bench repaired

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

 
Predicting climate changes

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

Clinton’s book is worth a read

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10, 3 Comments

 
.

Sports

 
Enriquez brilliant, but Post 77 season ends with Area 1 loss

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Hudson solid, Hamels better in Giants’ loss

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Petrovic, Putnam share Canadian Open lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Moss powers A’s past Astros

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
The un-Armstrong? Tour ‘boss’ Nibali wins Stage 18

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

.

Features

.

Arts

‘A Most Wanted Man’: Superb espionage drama

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
Clyde Elmore: Art in the Wild

By Evan Arnold-Gordon | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Musicians perform at Sunday service

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A17 | Gallery

 
.

Business

Accord’s latest model is most fuel efficient

By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
 
.

Obituaries

Mary Lita Bowen

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
James Thomas Feather

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Richard ‘Dick’ Robenalt

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

 
.

Comics

Comics: Friday, July 25, 2014

By Creator | From Page: A13

 
.

Real Estate Review

Featured Listing

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER1

Professional Services Directory

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER2

Remax

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER3

Lyon Real Estate

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

Sherman Home

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

Tracy Harris

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

Vaughan Brookshaw

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

Julie Leonard

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER5

Ciana Wallace

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER6

Melrina A Maggiora

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

Joe Kaplan

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

Jo Vallejo

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

Karen Waggoner

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

Jamie Madison

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

Malek Baroody

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER10

Jason Sull

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

Carol Coder

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

Diane Lardelli

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

Coldwell Banker

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER12

Coldwell Banker

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER13

Leslie Blevins

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

Julie Partain

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

Lisa Haass

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

Yolo FCU

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

Willowbank Park

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

David Campos

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

Heather Barnes

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

Kim Eichorn

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

Dana Hawkins & Caitlin McCalla

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

Dana Hawkins & Caitlin McCalla

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

Susan von Geldern

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

Open House Map

By jboydston | From Page: RER19

Chris Snow

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

Travis Credit Union

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER20

Martha Bernauer

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

Patricia Echevarria

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

Lynne Wegner

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

Kim Merrel Lamb

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

Open House Map

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER23

F1rst Street Real Estate

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER24