2014-04-16: “Grandpa The Hero”

By now you must all know how much enjoyment I get from being around children and how amazed I am at what they think or say, and what they are curious about.  I’ve always said that, at least when it comes to Funerals and Funeral Homes, children take their cues from the adults around them.  So many times I have walked with a family to the casket for the first time and after a quick look around the room, a child’s attention becomes focused on his/her parents because they’re not sure what to do or how to act.  It reminds me of a story that Bill Terris tells about the security of having someone by your side who is bigger than whatever it is that threatens you.

We always try our best to make children feel comfortable while they are here.  In all honesty we have had children here who have cried when it was time to go home because they didn’t want to go.  Parents have told me that when they have returned for another visitation, that their children have asked if they could come back.  Sometimes I go up by the casket with children and talk to them, encourage them and answer their questions.  If they want to see Grandpa’s feet, and if it’s okay with their parents, I will show them.  If they want to touch Grandma’s hands, I will touch Grandma’s hands first so that they can see that it’s okay and that they shouldn’t be scared.  And if there is something that they want to share, I will encourage them to share it.  A young boy at a recent funeral said something that I have thought about a hundred times since he was here.  I knew that this young boy’s grandfather had donated his lungs so that two other people could live.  When I was talking to him, I asked him what name he called his grandfather, expecting him to answer Grandpa or Papa.  But with great pride, he answered “A Hero”.  Because his grandfather saved two other lives, he called him a hero.  How awesome was that…

Next week I will re-run an article that I wrote last year on helping children grieve.