During this season of Halloween, I drive by homes with tombstones and graveyard scenes to scare the children as they "Trick or Treat". However, I have always enjoyed the beauty and the peace one finds within the grounds of a cemetary. Call me crazy, I know!
Much of my life, I have loved history and legacies found in the gardens beside a church in Europe or the East Coast. Perhaps I learned to feel comfort in them as a child growing up in the summers in Germany. We would visit the old churchyards to see my ancestors of old. We would plant flowers there and my aunt would take care of our family plot. The picture above is in Grossenkneten, Germany at our family plot with my four kids in 2010.
The funny thing is I am not a big fan of Halloween and all the fake cemetary scenes. In trying to scare us with ghosts and goblins, the message really misses the truth of the eternal life. Not to mention, the root of this crazy holiday where we don costumes and eat candy. I believe each life and their passing into glory is a special moment to be cherished by all.
Our family has had the opportunity a couple times this month to visit a real cemetary for a burial and a chapel for a funeral. As my kids were growing up, I often heard the statistics about keeping our kids from the sadness of dying and the realities of loved ones passing. However, it never has sit well with me.
Why do we celebrate birth, marriage and so many moments in life, but shy away from the ultimate party in a person's life? If they were a follower of Jesus, funerals are to be a celebration of the legacy of a person - an accumulation of all they have done - the story God wrote for just them. Why would we want to keep our children from experiencing and learning from the elders in their life? Why would we deprive them of the emotions they will feel?
In the 1970's, Psychology Today came out with a study and a few articles suggesting grieving was not appropriate for children. For decades, people followed their advice. Today, they have changed their tune. New studies show that children who have the hardest time after a death are those who aren't allowed to go to a funeral.
Experts say children handle death much better than most adults. How young is too young? "If a child is old enough to go to church services, that's old enough to go to a funeral," says Rabbi Earl Grollman of Lexington, a bereavement specialist and chairman of the National Center of Death Education at Mount Ida College in Newton.
I think death brings about questions some adults are just not ready to answer. But for us, Christians, we should welcome the opportunity to talk about life, death, salvation, heaven and eternal life with our kids at any given time. Experts suggest, "Don't wait until a death to discuss funerals. Look for openers, visit a cemetery, read a book . . ." (Child Caring; Boston.com)
In our newest book, A Royal Christmas to Remember, we shed light on the much- asked question, "What happened to their mom?" True to the times, the princesses' mother died in childbirth with her last child, Charity. It is not a glaring theme in the book, but a simple comment near the end. Originally, we want the King and father to resemble our true King and father, God, in the parable stories so we intentially left out the mother. We hope our readers use this springboard to speak into their children about life and death, if it seems appropriate.
How have you handled funerals with your family?
~Jeanna Young - When Jeanna is not writing, speaking, event planning, or homeschooling, she can be found scrapbooking her life, redecorating her home, loving on her husband, planning fun events for her kids or eating healthy to stay cancer-free!