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Surprise! It’s a Funeral!

Posted by on October 24, 2011

The kids and I had an interesting experience this morning. Our neighborhood parish, St. Rosalia, offers daily mass on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I wish it was offered every weekday, but that’s a topic for another day. I meet with my PhD advisor on Fridays, so I take the kids to mass on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Sometimes mass is cancelled unbeknownst to us (since we don’t attend Sunday mass at St. Rosalia to get the weekly bulletin). That wasn’t the surprise we received this morning, though, and even we ‘d had the bulletin we would not have been prepared. As we entered the church, we were informed that a funeral would be taking place.

Hmm. Decision time. Should we stay or should we go?

Reasons to go:

  • We weren’t dressed in funeral attire.
  • We weren’t family or friends of the deceased.
  • It would be longer than a typical daily mass.
  • Little kids may not behave with the required respectfulness.

Reasons to stay:

  • We weren’t dressed shabbily or shamefully.
  • We weren’t asked to leave.
  • My kids sit through an hour-long mass every Sunday.
  • My kids have repeatedly demonstrated the ability to behave well throughout mass.

Some of you may be wondering why I would want to take my kids to a funeral at all – even if we knew the deceased. My wife and I decided some time ago that as long as our kids could be well-behaved during funerals, we would not ban them from attending. Death is part of life. A mass of resurrection is as important as a baptism. The solemn marking of a member of the Church, the Bride of Christ, meeting the Bridegroom is as important as a nuptial mass. We also feel that by making death a normal part of life, by not hiding it, we will help our children grow to have healthy feelings about it. We want to do everything in our power to help our kids avoid having the unhealthy feelings of fear and obsession I have about death, and the panic attacks and night terrors that come with them.

Anyhow, we stayed, and my children did not disappoint me. I still felt somewhat awkward, though. I couldn’t shake the feeling that we were intruding, despite our quiet and respectful attendance.

So, putting aside the question of whether small children should attend a funeral at all, do you think it was wrong for us to attend this funeral mass? Were we disrespectful? If you think we were, please be kind in your comments. We meant no harm, and we cannot undo what we did, even if we wanted to.