21/01/2011 13:08 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Achtung Baby Or Children, Death And Funerals

Over Christmas Finje's great grandmother, my husband's grandmother, passed away. She was 89 and frankly had been away with the fairies for years. Finje loved her.

There was some discussion though, as to whether she should attend the funeral. I was hesitant, keen to support my baby in her world of talking animals, tooth-fairies and bearded sack carrying blokes who jump down chimneys, for as long as possible.
Watching Granny's boxed remains sinking into the soil is not the stuff of sweet dreams. My husband was of the opinion that death is a part of life and she needed to be able to say Auf Wiedersehen. I relented.

It turned out not to be a burial. Cremations are carried out by the undertakers in Germany and the urn gets buried. Scattering the ashes, for some reason, is strictly verboten. I don't wish to speculate on the reason for that!

Finje has already attended a burial when staying with her grandparents one weekend. A neighbour had gone to join the Choir Invisible and she went with them to the funeral. Apparently, she took the whole thing in her stride.

This time however there would be no casket and I wondered how we would explain that one away. Granny shrank to the size of a gremlin when she died?

Finje behaved impeccably throughout the service. The realisation hit her as it so often does when the music started. Emotions took over and she sobbed quietly muttering "Bye bye Oma" into her stuffed snot-smeared penguin.

Before the service, she had asked if she could draw a picture to put into the grave. She actually made an angel. With a face not unlike a bulldog, golden wings and her name written with a kiss, it was perfect. Forbidden from scattering ashes or indeed keeping them, one is allowed to place biodegradable objects into the hole in the ground where the urn is placed.

As she took her turn to sprinkle sand onto the urn, she knelt and placed her angel on top. There wasn't a dry eye in the house. She chose this moment to ask where the coffin was. My husband played a blinder and took advantage of her current dinosaur obsession.

"Oma has been dead for a while so that's just her fossils in there."

"Can I look at them?"

"No, Oma wants to be left in peace now."


"No, Oma is very dead! She can't hear!"