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Jeremy (9)

My grandfather died. Where do they put his body?

Grandpas body will be at the funeral - inside a casket or special box. Some caskets are made of wood and others of metal. They have handles so the casket can be carried. Sometimes the casket is open and there is a viewing where people can look at the body. Other families choose to keep the casket closed.

You dont need to be afraid of seeing the dead body. You dont have to look if you dont want to. The person cannot see or hear you. You can touch the body if you want, but you dont have to. It may feel cool to you. You can put a special picture, toy, or other object inside the casket. It might feel nice to do that.

What is a funeral? Can I go?

A funeral is a special time to say goodbye to Grandpa. Friends and family will come together to honor his life. The casket is at the front of the room. There may be plants and flowers, and even music.

A priest, rabbi, or minister usually talks about the person that died. Grandpas friend, Father OMalley, will do that. Other people may tell stories or share memories about Grandpa. Others may sit quietly or even cry. Any way you feel is OK. Your mom and dad told me they have invited you to come to the funeral. If you think of any questions about it, please ask.

My grandma was talking about going to the cemetery to put Grandpas body in a grave. What is a cemetery? Can children go?

Yes, children can go to the cemetery. It is a place where Grandpa will be buried in the ground. After the funeral the casket is carried to a hearse or funeral car. Relatives and close friends may ride in a big car called a limousine while others follow in their cars in a big line called a funeral procession.

The cemetery is a pretty place with trees and plants. Lots of peoples bodies are buried there. Grandpa will be buried in the ground. People gather together while this is happening and sometimes they say a prayer or other words to say goodbye to him.

Jeremy, your mom and dad are happy for you to come to the cemetery. Would you like to think about it for a while? It is a place we can visit on Grandpas birthday or holidays, if we choose.

My friend Rick says his grandpa wanted to he cremated instead of buried. What does cremation mean?

Cremation is placing someones body in a machine called a crematory. A crematory is a very hot chamber with heat so hot that a body turns to ashes. Then the ashes are put in a container called an urn or even a wooden box. Sometimes families choose to keep the ashes in the urn or box, while other people scatter them in the ocean, spread them in a forest, or bury them in the garden.

What happens to the body?

Lets remember that the body of Ricks grandfather stopped working completely when he died. He couldnt eat or read or feel anything. Nothing hurt him anymore. Its like his body is a costume with no person inside. The costume experiences nothing and has no life energy or thoughts or feelings. Some people believe that life energy or spirit goes to God or heaven or stays in the breeze we feel. Others say they just dont know.

Is it better to be cremated or buried?

They are both choices people can make before they die. One is no better or worse than the other. Whether someone is buried in the ground or cremated, you can still say a prayer for them with your family or friends, tell a story about them, or plant a special tree to remember them by.

I am glad you are asking questions about the funeral, burial, and memorial service. By being allowed to participate and being prepared to attend commemorations, you become an important member of a community grief team. You can see you belong with your friends and relatives as they come together to honor your grandfather. Sharing memories and rituals with others helps to say goodbye to Grandpa.

Concluding thought

Young people can actively commemorate in their grief process by being prepared, invited, and being given choices about attending a memorial service or funeral. Children can become an active part of a ceremony just by sitting with family members, blowing bubbles, sharing, listening, and drawing pictures for their loved one or friend. Participating in age-appropriate ways gives meaning to their grief process as they come together with others in the community to say goodbye to a loved one. Saying goodbye to a loved one conveys a sense of dignity and respect for the person that died, and involving children in the commemorative process conveys a sense of dignity and respect for them as well. It gives a strong message about the value of all life.

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