Bringing a baby to a wake?
January 19, 2012 4:23 PM   Subscribe

Is it appropriate to bring my 3-month old to a wake?

The father of my childhood best friend passed away (age 59, cancer) and the wake/calling is tomorrow. I was very close to the family for my entire childhood (though we haven't been as close for about 5-10 years, but we still keep in contact).

I am considering bringing my wife (and therefore 3-month-old child) along. I think they would be glad that we all made it out there (it's about 2.5 hours away), and I think it could bring them a few smiles to meet my son, but I don't want to be inconsiderate to them. If the situation were reversed, I think I would welcome my friend's child at such an event, but I don't really know as I don't have personal experience with it.

Our child is generally very well-behaved — doesn't cry very often or for long periods of time — although if he started to fuss then one of us would rush him out of the room.

(Other possibly relevant facts: this is in the northeast US, a not particularly religious christian family, we have no nearby family to leave our baby with, the baby will be fine with the travel, and my wife does know the family reasonably well.)

Is this a good idea or would it be better if I went solo?
posted by kosmonaut to Human Relations (25 answers total)
Worst case scenario, your wife takes the car and goes out with your baby. But I don't think it is inappropriate to bring your family.
posted by jeather at 4:27 PM on January 19, 2012

I do not see any problems. You will be talking with the family members, and the way I see it, a baby can help over any awkwardness by giving people something to talk about. Since it is 2.5 hours, you will not stay too long and the baby is the perfect excuse if you want to leave early.
posted by francesca too at 4:30 PM on January 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

(ms.vegetable) to the wake, it's fine. To a funeral or viewing, no.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 4:30 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Everybody's going to give you hell for not bringing the baby if you don't bring the baby. These things turn into family reunions, and some people may get to see the baby who won't have another chance.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:35 PM on January 19, 2012 [9 favorites]

In my own experience, I've always been very touched when folks with babies make the effort to come to a funeral or wake. It takes an extra effort, and it shows that your priority is coming to pay your respects, and to include your family in doing so. If your baby has a massive crying fit, your wife can step out for a few minutes for feeding or calming before rejoining the event.

If you were this close, they will be delighted to meet your baby. In a few months, invite them out for lunch so that you can all say hello for more than a few minutes. But for the immediate wake, bring your family, some kleenex and share some lovely memories of your friend's father.
posted by barnone at 4:39 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

This is not exactly what you're asking, but I hope it's still relevant.

My grandmother died the day before Thanksgiving. We were, understandably, not sure whether or not to have Thanksgiving dinner. We ended up having it (mostly because we already had bought the turkey) and my cousin brought her six-month-old baby. It was awesome having the baby there because it helped to take our minds off of what had happened. Babies are good for that.

(My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I think she brought the baby to the wake, held the Saturday after Thanksgiving, as well.)
posted by madcaptenor at 4:40 PM on January 19, 2012

My mom died last November. We had a small funeral where family members, my nieces and nephews, along with my daughter and granddaughter and my son attended.

My one nephew just had a baby, who was five months old. He came with baby and wife, and all the women gravitated toward the baby.

My grand-daughter was sitting next to me, using the funeral home coloring book, and then she jumped up and ran up to my dad and gave him a big hug out of the blue.

Truly, we were all so happy to see the baby. My mom would have loved to see him and we all felt that. After the service and the burial, we all went back to the cabin that we'd rented. It had a big living room area and kitchen.

I took pics of my brother with his grandbaby, my sister with her grand-nephew, all the men together (standing awkwardly).

The baby made it so much more better, because death is a natural part of life, and family gathering to honor my mother along with the next generation helped us all. Bring the baby.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:49 PM on January 19, 2012 [6 favorites]

Definitely bring the baby. People will be grateful for the ray of sunshine.
posted by fingersandtoes at 4:56 PM on January 19, 2012 [11 favorites]

I took my son to a funeral when he was about 1, and it really seemed to cheer people up. I think you should do it, and if you find that for some reason it's not going over well, your wife can step outside with the baby for a while.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:57 PM on January 19, 2012

I would say "Possibly yes, but not unannounced." Have you phoned to ask your friend if it's OK? For weddings and funerals it's better to follow the wishes of the family.
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:01 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's not inappropriate but if I was breast-feeding a 3 month old, I can think of a zillion things I'd rather do than drive 5 hours round trip to meet a bunch of near-strangers at a sad occasion. Go alone.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:16 PM on January 19, 2012

I don't ever think I've been to a wake or funeral where bringing a baby would not have been okay. I'm surprised to hear that it's even a question, honestly.

At my cousin's funeral, so many friends brought so many screaming, crying, screaming babies that my family (seated at the front of the church, naturally) couldn't even hear the preacher or anyone else speaking at multiple times during the service. At one point, the preacher had to stop talking because he couldn't compete with the noise. We found it very upsetting.

A wake is a different beast, though. I think this would be totally acceptable, as long as your wife is up for it.
posted by vivid postcard at 5:33 PM on January 19, 2012

We have brought a baby to a funeral. It worked fine -- I was close to the deceased, my husband wasn't, so he took the baby out when necessary.
posted by chickenmagazine at 6:31 PM on January 19, 2012

I took my small son to the funeral and wake of my best friend's grandmother, he was fine, everyone loved seeing him, but I think it's dependant on whether the people are generally fond of babies and welcoming of random kids (this family was, the kind of people who'll feed anyone, and can always find another place or bed for visitors). Then again, it was a very open, informal and family oriented funeral and wake too. So probably it's fine, but maybe ask someone who'll be aware of the tone of the day first?
posted by thylacinthine at 6:32 PM on January 19, 2012

Would it be possible to get a hotel room nearby for that night? That way, if you feel that you need to spend more time with your friend and friends' family your wife has the option of taking the baby to a nice quiet place.
posted by mareli at 6:52 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes, bring the baby. Funerals are about life and death. And since I'd imagine you haven't seen your friend's family much in the past 3 months, I would think they'd be delighted to meet your progeny.
posted by maryr at 7:16 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Bring the baby but I would definitely go with the mind set that if anything should be disruptive then one of the adults needs to head out with the baby asap. No seeing if he will just calm down on his own for a second. Although people do love baby's and will want to see the baby it is also a time to be super respectful to individuals who may be on edge.
posted by MyMind at 7:17 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Babies keep funerals from becoming too sad and weird. Without children, you'll just stand around eating little triangular baloney with butter sandwiches and talking about which highway you took to get there.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:34 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Babies bring a little bit of hope to funerals. Circle of life!
posted by looli at 7:51 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Babies help keep grieving adults sane at funerals and accompanying events. The only circumstances under which it might be questionable would be a young child's funeral. Take your family with you.
posted by bardophile at 9:58 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nthing what everyone says: that baby will brighten the mood. Who in their right mind would be offended by the baby's presence?
posted by zardoz at 10:57 PM on January 19, 2012

Ask your wife if she is okay with a lot of people (some of them may be strangers) asking to hold the baby. That might stress some new moms out, especially if they don't want to permit it but feel obligated to say yes.
posted by IndigoRain at 11:43 PM on January 19, 2012

Yes, it's fine
posted by Blake at 4:53 AM on January 20, 2012

It's not like you'll be staying for two hours or something, right? Wakes are positive inasmuchas they allow some informal blowing-off-of-steam before the more sober funeral.

At my uncle's wake last winter a lot of old family friends gathered to hug and share stories; the slideshow of old photographs elicited a lot of stories, and everyone got to exclaim over how all the kids had grown.

Bring the boy.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:43 PM on January 20, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for encouraging me to bring the baby.

I just wanted to report that I did take him along, and the family was not only touched that we all made the trip, but the baby brought smiles to many faces. This included the widow, who said that meeting our son was "a ray of sunshine" on a difficult day.

Moreover, the baby was incredibly well-behaved: he stayed awake and happy the entire time, and let out hardly more than a squeak for almost two hours. The funeral home had a children's room where we could change the baby and my wife could feed him.

So, I'm really glad we made the effort!
posted by kosmonaut at 1:20 PM on January 23, 2012 [7 favorites]

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