Children and funerals – when we decide if our children should attend a funeral, age is not the most important consideration, our children are part of the family and children who are old enough to love are old enough to grieve.
Children and Funerals
No child is too young to attend a funeral, provided they are prepared for what they will see and what is going to happen and are guided lovingly through the process. By shutting them out, they can feel alone and it can give them the idea that death and grief are too horrible to face. Children need to learn that people they love and that are special to them die, however, we need to show them that there will always be someone to love and take care of them.
Explaining to your child, what death means, can be done the same way as any other milestone. Find out what they know (or what they think they know) about death. Try to avoid using words such as “sleeping”, “lost” and “passed away”. Explain to them what “death” actually means, “gran died, her heart stopped beating, it’s not the same as sleeping, her body has stopped working”.
Tell them how we, as adults might feel when someone dies, we may be angry, confused, sad and we might cry. Don’t hide your own feelings, let your child know that it’s ok to be upset, holding back can imply that feeling should be suppressed.
Allow your child, where possible to be part of the funeral arrangement, such as helping choose clothing, jewellery, songs, and readings. Let them draw a picture or write a letter to go into the coffin. If they wish, take them along to the wherever the service will be held in order to prepare them for the actual day.
Chat with your child about the purpose of a funeral, a coming together of family and friends, to celebrate the life of the person who has died, to say “thank you” and “I love you” to them, share stories about the person, pay our respects, receive comfort and support and be with people who care.
If your child doesn’t want to attend the funeral, don’t force the issue and ensure they are not made to feel guilty for not attending.
We hope this blog has been informative in your time of need. Please stay up to date on our blog or contact us online.