Goodbye, Grandpa Alton

Great-Grandpa Alton died Monday night, just a month shy of his 95th birthday. Despite our efforts to prepare the kids for this eventuality {he had been bed ridden and in declining health over the last 9 months} Little Miss C took the news pretty hard. She cried for an hour as we talked about what we believe happens after death, then cried more after we put her to bed.

She's such a sensitive girl, I really dread having to take her to the funeral. And I have to. I always begrudged my mother for not allowing me to attend my Grandma's funeral {I was only four!} but now I'm absolutely flummoxed about how to handle this with Little Miss C. Do I let her go to the viewing? Does she need that for closure? Does E? Aren't they too young?

I was sixteen when I attended my Grandpa's funeral, and I fell apart when I saw him in the casket.

I'm thinking they can go to the funeral, but not the viewing. They may hold a grudge against me, but I think they'll understand someday when faced with the same situation. Life is nice and cyclical that way. :)

In the meantime, we miss Grandpa Alton and treasure the many hand-fashioned heirlooms he left us-- especially the rocking horse.


Jenn said...

So sorry for your loss! Had to come out of hiding to say that. Sounds like he was well loved!
We have had two deaths in our family this past year, my grandma and my father-in-law. I took my boys to both. They were ages 7 and 11 at the first funeral, 8 and 12 at the second. We DIDN'T take them to the viewing. The only way I picture my aunt, who died when I was 12, is in her casket. I think it helps to be older to process viewings. I still don't attend them, but that's just me. My sons were both grateful to go to the funerals and remember their family members. We were just very open with them and let them talk about it as much as they needed. Hope this helps!

Em said...

I'm very sorry about the loss of your Great-Grandpa! Grandpas are the best people in the world.

Regarding the viewing, I think you're smart having your kids avoid the viewing. They are a little...creepy--and I'm an adult. Then again, it sounds like Little Miss C is a sensitive and smart little girl. Maybe tell her exactly what it will be like and let her decide? If she backs out at the last minute, great. But it might be a way to teach her that our body really is just a home that holds our soul temporarily. Idk... I'm positive you'll make the best decision for your kids regarding this.

Again, I'm sorry for your loss!

LisAway said...

Oh, what a sad, hard thing. This is probably a very good experience for her to have. I didn't attend a single funeral (I don't think) until my grandpa died when I was 17 (and away in Rexburg at college). I was terrified to go to the viewing (thought I would be too sad to see him) but when I finally got up the nerve to look in the casket I was so, so relieved. That wasn't my grandpa! It was so obviously just his shell that it all hit me so strongly that he really IS still living. Just without the part I was used to seeing. It was his soul that I really loved. It was an awesome experience. And strangly so comforting. But I know Little Miss C is quite a bit younger, so this is a tricky thing to decide. Good luck.

And if he had to go now, at least he went out with fresh memories of how well your family sings. :)

The Queen Vee said...

Your grandpa Alton lived a wonderfully long earth life and now he's graduated and I'm sure with honors. Do take your daughter to the funeral, she may cry but that's okay. I think it's important to be able to deal with grief and also to participate in the celebration of a good man and long lived life. Birth and death have become so institutionalized when they use to be family and community events that took place in the home. For many people death and funerals are scary when they shouldn't be, it's a natural part of everyone's life. I'm happy for your grandpa but I'm sad for you and your family because I know that he will be missed.

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear about your loss. I never before thought about the implications of taking kids to funerals. I was 7 when my baby brother died shortly after birth and his funeral (and viewing) was important to me. I put a flower in his tiny casket. I took my son (almost 3 at the time) to his fathers funeral, but i don't think he knew what was happening. Children are capable of understanding much, even as we shelter them from the worst in life.

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