One of my friends lost her grandmother this week. Thursday I got a text from my friend, asking if I could sing at the funeral on Friday.
My friend felt bad asking me for the favor, but it made me feel so good to be asked! I sing, but I don't do a lot of solos, and it meant a lot that she'd trust me.
The songs went great, but that's not really what this post is about. This post is about my kids, attending their first funeral.
My original plan was for The Engineer to take half the day off so he could watch the kids during the afternoon service. But then I found out that there would be a room for kids at the funeral home, complete with childcare. I had to take Chickie out of school 30 minutes early, which was a lot better than The Engineer taking four hours off work! So I packed up Zoodle, picked up Chickie, and headed to the funeral home.
The kids had come with us to a memorial service a few months ago (again, staying in a separate room during the service.) But there wasn't a casket at that service. At this one, there was, and when we arrived, it was open.
Kids, of course, don't have the same attitude toward death that adults have. In fact, I don't think my kids have thought a lot about death in the past. When one of their friends (the deceased's six-year-old great-granddaughter) asked Chickie and Zoodle if they wanted to see her grandma, they eagerly agreed.
As my friend's husband (who was accompanying me on guitar) and I practiced our songs, Chickie and Zoodle repeatedly followed their friend to the casket to peek in. I later heard that their friend even touched her grandmother to show my kids that she wasn't alive.
Sound weird? Yeah, it does. But I think it was such a healthy, concrete "introduction to death" for my kids. They didn't know the woman who had died, so they weren't dealing with any negative emotions. They were just interested. Afterward, they had questions about what it means to die. We were able to talk about the body and the spirit, and how the woman's body had stopped working, but her spirit had stayed alive and is living with Jesus.
My kids have now looked at someone who is dead. That's a bridge they crossed earlier than I expected they would. And maybe since it happened so early, in a completely un-traumatic (and dare I say, even positive) way, just maybe it will help them not to fear death. I hope so. It was also good for me, talking so candidly with them about a subject that can be hard to contemplate.
Even funerals can be learning experiences for kids--and for moms too!