You're not alone if your first instinct is horror when thinking about babies and funerals. The two opposite ends of life in the same, sad place is jarring. And think of how mortifying it would be if your baby decided the middle of a eulogy was the best time to have a laughing and/or crying jag. It's why I would never bring a baby to a funeral. Except that I did, kind of.
After reading a piece about babies sitting shiva on Kveller, I remembered my daughter's first exposure to death and mourning -- when she was present at her grandfather's shiva when she was only 7 months old.
I didn't have much of a choice, since we were staying at my in-laws' home, but I did offer to keep her inside as the rabbi led the prayers to the gathered mourners in the backyard. I can't remember who told me to bring her out into the crowd, but as soon as she started to talk back to the rabbi, I turned to take her inside so she wouldn't be a distraction. My mother-in-law stopped me and was able to smile at her granddaughter's laughter and babble in the midst of the heart-wrenching grief. So my baby girl came outside every night to join in the songs and chatter away.
Instead of it being awkward, it turned out to be a blessing for all of the family members who were devastated about my father-in-law's much too early passing. As we went inside to talk, the baby was a welcome, happy diversion. She was the first grandchild, and we felt blessed that she was able to meet her grandfather before he left us behind. Her grandfather lived on in her boundless laughter and love for her immediate and extended family who were all present.
It was a beautiful thing in the middle of so much pain. While I wouldn't bring my son to a formal funeral service today, if it were a family member (god forbid), I'd make sure he made an appearance at the reception, or shiva, and remind everyone how life does, indeed, go on.
Would you bring your baby to a funeral?
Image via NatalieMaynor/Flickr