Bringing Baby to a Funeral

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babies at funeralsYou'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

baby first year, baby activities

26 Comments

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bwill626 bwill626

I think it would depend on who the funeral was for.

miche... micheledo

Yes.  We do.  All of our children have been to a funeral (ages 5, 3, 2, 1).  Death is a part of life.  Our kids are quiet and respectful.  And like you mentioned, they are often a welcome diversion and reminder of the life that is all around us.  IF the kids get loud or are not able to sit still we would quietly leave (and we sit in the back so that we can leave without making a scene).

Stefa... Stefanie83

My son was 4.5 months old when my step dad died in his 40s.  I would have preferred to leave him with a trusted caregiver but he was breastfed and the funeral was 7 hours from where we lived.  I had to walk away from the graveside service because he started crying to eat.  (It was February, very cold, and I didn't feel comfortable breastfeeding him there).  It was extremely sad, all in all.

sara_... sara_7106

I took my dd (4 months at the time) to a viewing but didn't take her to the funeral. She was a welcome distraction to the people who had been at the viewing all day.

Sleep... SleepingBeautee

My children have been to funerals.


The only funeral I would not bring a baby/small child to is one for a baby or small child. I have found a sitter for my baby both times I attended a funeral for a baby. Very sad, and I didn't want the grieving parents to be uncomfortable.

Lynette Lynette

yes I would.  But not one that is for a baby/small child that has passed

nonmember avatar Jen

I did. I didn't have much choice as it was for my grandfather and our whole family was there. I sure was not going to leave my kids with my in-laws. I would have had no explanation for my family as to why I did that. It went fine. My son walked around with my cousin's daughter and I held my baby or my mom did. The chilren were a welcome sight to my family. My baby didn't even cry until the very end of the service. No one was irritated. All the children who were there seemed to make everyone not so sad.

kerwo... kerwolfe712

I took my daughter, at 5 months, to my uncle's funeral.  Anyone that I trusted to watch her was at the funeral, so I asked my aunt if it was ok with her and she said she wanted me to bring the baby.  She didn't cry, even when they fired the volley shots (it was a military funeral).  After the service, my aunt came to hold her and my daughter (who usually isn't super social) cuddled with her for 45 minutes without a whimper.  It was the only time my aunt smiled all day, so I'm glad I took her even though I was told beforehand by (non-family) others that it was inappropriate to take a baby to a funeral.  

purpl... purpleducky

If I go my sons go. Haidn has been to two funerals thus far. The first he was only 4 months old. The second he was just shy of 2 years. He conducted himself very well. I don't believe in shelthering my children from death.

Mommah3 Mommah3

I would (and have) only taken any of my children to funerals for family members. If I attended any others either my hubby stayed home or I had my mom or otehr family member or baby sitter. 

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