Telling kids about cremation

doc8404July 9, 2007

It has been three months since my wife passed away. In accordance with her wishes, I had her cremated and distributed her ashes in the woods behind our house.

I haven't discussed this specifically with my 11 and 12 year old sons. They were at the memorial service I had for her and we did not have a viewing for her. I really don't know what they know about her burial arrangements. Obviously, I hesitate to bring it up with them. My youngest is just now starting to be able to talk about his mom and I fear a setback with him. My wife's death was by her own hand and a huge shock for both of the boys.

Has this come up for anyone else? Should I just wait until one of them asks me directly? Could it affect the way they view the woods?

Thanks and prayers to all,


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I am sorry doc but I have no words of wisdom for you because I have the same dilema with our grandchildren. I asked my daughter how she was going to explain that Poppi was cremated and she said that they hadn't decided, the children are seven and four and were very close to him. If anyone has been in this situation I would like their input too.
God Bless.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2007 at 7:14PM
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I wish I could consult with a grief counselor on this one, but I would think you'd be safe waiting until one of the boys asks. My mother died when I was nine. She was buried. My dad said he wanted to be cremated when his time came. I remember at that age being appalled at the idea of cremation, but I also remember that it was a continual struggle for me to avoid thinking of my mother's body decomposing in her coffin.

When you do speak with your sons about this, be sure they understand that you followed their mother's wishes. And perhaps you can help them grasp the concept that we are all connected with what we know as nature, and now their mom is part of it.

Doc, there will be setbacks no matter what. But if and when they will talk about their mother, keep them talking. In silence, pain festers.

Do you know if they talk about her to each other? I hope so. The book Motherless Daughters talks about the vital role siblings play in healing.


    Bookmark   July 9, 2007 at 8:53PM
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My father died by his own in hand in our shed, I was twenty one the eldest of six and my brothers were twelve, fourteen and sixteen.

My mother still lives on the farm - the shed is still there but it doesn't have any terrible memories for any us. We all knew what happened and were involved in the burial etc. In the beginning when I came home I would go over to the shed but after a while that stopped.

I think talking to your children in general conversation without it becoming a big deal will help - at least they know the facts rather than letting their imaginations run riot. They may like to go to the woods to feel close to their mum.

Mav63, my little girl is six and she didn't understand what I meant by Daddy being dead until she saw him even then she asked my why he wasn't moving - none of her cousins of the same age saw him but they have accepted his death although how much they understand of dead I don't know. One six year old wanted to go to the grave to say a prayer, and the four year old boy is bringing one of his tractors to the grave for Hugh. Is there some place they can go to visit where the ashes were scattered? Do you really need to explain the difference betweeen buried/cremated to them unless they ask. I would let them know he was cremated and unless they ask I wouldn't go explaining - they will learn gradually as they get older the difference themselves.

Young kids I think are accepting and unless we make a big deal out it they generally won't.

Hope my ramblings make some sense.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 1:32PM
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There was an article in this week's paper about cremation of pets. The article mentioned telling kids about cremation and the proprietor of the crematoriam has a wonderful explanation for small children. Maybe it can be altered for an 11 & 12 year old. Quoted from article.
"The dad said (to his 5 & 7 year old girls)Girls, see those big machines there? Those are going to lift Scout back to heaven. And when you get back, this lady's going to hand us a box with angel dust and that's how we'll know he made it.

And those girls came back in here with chocolate ice cream all over their faces and, by golly, they were going to get their angel dust and know Scout made it to heaven."

best wishes.....jerri

    Bookmark   August 15, 2007 at 3:27PM
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Maybe when the topic eventually comes up, you could offer to all go out together and plant some wildflowers or spring bulbs in the woods.

Or plant a special tree.


    Bookmark   August 24, 2007 at 5:35PM
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