Many parents don't want their kids exposed to death at an early age. I understand and respect that, but I feel that death is a part of life and kids should know about it. A lot of people asked me why I took my kids to my grandfather's wake and asked if I let the kids see him.
I think it's important for kids of any age to understand what dying is and to participate in the family events that happen when someone dies. Now, I don't necessarily mean a 1 or 2 year old. They are too young to understand. Although, I did bring my 2 year old and she kept pointing at Grandpa and saying, "Papa." I know she doesn't understand, however my 5 year old had some questions...
She wanted to know why Grandpa was so short and where his legs and feet were. This was something I didn't think about preparing her for. It was really cute how she wanted to know where the rest of him was. I explained to her that he was all there...legs, feet, toes and all...they are just underneath the top of the coffin. She wasn't so sure about that answer. I don't know why she didn't believe me.
At the end, she was asking my mom about it again and the funeral director was there. She offered to open the bottom part of the casket so my daughter could see. They lifted it up enough so she could see that he had legs and feet under there and boy was she relieved when she saw that he was wearing SOCKS. Guess she thought maybe his feet would get cold?
She also wanted to touch his skin and his hair. Nobody had a problem with this. She was just curious. She had some other questions and hopefully we answered them well enough for her. I really do think it was important for her to go and see him and even experience the sadness that people showed. Although, I'm sure she enjoyed the huge family dinner and ice cream bar afterwards.
Death is part of life.