Sandy Hook Children at Funerals of Their Little Friends Break Our Hearts

Mom Moment 7

Newtown FuneralsAs the reports come out of Newtown, Connecticut, some of the hardest to bear are those of parents walking hand-in-hand with their children into the funeral of a 6-year-old friend today. The goodbyes for Noah Pozner and Jack Pinto, two of the young victims of Friday's mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, have begun. They are places no parent wants to be.

And I can't help but wonder what went through those parents' minds as they weighed out: do we take our kids to the funerals? Do we leave the kids home? Do we go at all?

I haven't been in their shoes, exactly. I can't pretend to know what I'd do in the face of one of the worst school shootings in American history.

But I have been the adult taking a child to the funeral of another child. And I can tell you that it's not an easy place to be.

It was several years ago when my daughter was just a baby, and I had to go to the funeral of a teenager who'd died in a car accident because my job as a reporter required I'd attend. My mother was working. My father had agreed to babysit for my daughter. That meant there was no one to take my teenaged brother, a friend of the deceased, to the funeral. No one, that is, but me.

I sat in the church of my childhood that day as a reporter but also as a mother. I sat there remembering the boy who'd died -- because, of course, I live in a small town, and I knew this child too. And I sat there as the adult who was faced with comforting a child in the face of death.

As I said, the experience was different (I feel like I have to keep saying this after some horrific mommyjacking I've seen on the Internets in light of the tragedy). My brother had not gone through the trauma of surviving a school shooting. And he was a teenager, already acquainted with the concept of death.

But as we look at what parents in Newtown are doing to guide us in our grief, it must be said that the funeral of a child is different from any other funeral. They are all sad, yes, but when a child is gone, it's more than sad. There's a desperation in the crowd, a hopelessness.

In that sense, deciding to take a child to the funeral of another child carries with it an entirely different set of rules than, say, taking them to say goodbye to a grandparent. Because we aren't just asking our kids to face mortality. We are asking them to face their OWN mortality.

It's something no child should have to face. But it's something Adam Lanza forced on the children of Sandy Hook.

My heart goes out to these families who will be dressing in their darkest clothes and clutching at their children's hands as they attend funeral after funeral in the days to come. They, their children, may be survivors, but the hurt is far from over.

Would you take your child to the funeral of a young friend?

 

Image via Getty Images/Spencer Platt

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Rosas... RosasMummy

I'm 20 and since I was 16 four of my friends have died and I've attended their funerals, 2 suicides, one car crash, one drowning. having had that experience on top of the 3 funerals I've been to for elderly family members, I know that the right thing to do is to let Rosa do whatever she wants when it comes to dealing with the deaths in her life, grief is so unbelievably personal as I know all to well and to try and tell her what she should or shouldn't do will only delay her grieving process.

MomDell MomDell

There is a free online game called "Kindergarten Killers". Let's get it banned: https://www.change.org/petitions/lawmakers-ban-video-games-that-have-gamer-participate-in-school-shootings#share

nonmember avatar NoWay

I went to my first funeral when I was 11 years old. It was for a 10 year old friend who was killed in a freak accident. I have been to far too many funerals since then, but it is the one I remember the most. I am glad my parents brought me so I could have some closure and understanding. I remember the church was full of both kids and adults.

onefo... onefootcutiepie

Yes, I had to take my 1st grader to the funeral after several children were killed in an accident. He was having dreams where his friend wasn't really gone and missing him so much that we did decide to  take him. Participating in the grief of the community at the time helped him to grieve properly. It is not at all an easy decision to make, and it did make my kids face their own mortality, but at the same time, I wouldn't want there to be regret for them in the situation either. I wanted them to feel like they had done what they needed to do.

nonmember avatar DR2011

When I was 7, one of my best friends was hit by a car crossing the street 10 feet in front of her mom and little sibling on the way to school. We walked past the working accident site probably 10 minutes after they'd life flighted my friend to a trauma center. Less than 6 hours later she was taken off life support having sustained injuries that were just not survivable. We went to the funeral (my mom, myself, my sibling and a lot of our community).

Senia... Seniahmom

Why wouldn't one take children to a funeral of a friend or relative mo matter what the age? I remember going to wakes and funerals as a child.

Jammi... Jammie209

My very first funeral I was 12 & it was a friend of mine, whom was 13. She was shot in the head with a handgun a friend of hers got from his dad's house. I don't think I'll forget one detail, every! The smell of the funeral home, the soft whimpers of her mom, the sight of students & teachers alike, dressed in their best. I was so overcome w grief, my own mom didn't know what to do. It was my social studies teacher, Mr. Dorsey, who took my head, led me to Amanda's coffin & helped me say goodbye. I definitely needed that closure, I needed to say goodbye. So yes, if I'm ever unfortunately enough to be in that situation w my daughters, I would take them.

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