If it is your family’s first experience with the passing of a loved one, you may be wondering whether or not it as a wise idea to include your children in the funeral. The rituals of mourning and grief for somebody who has died are often something that many parents want to keep their child away from, for fear of upsetting them further. Many parents may also have questions as to how to approach and support their child at a difficult time. Deciding if and how to involve your child with a funeral or funeral plans can be tricky.
At What Age Is a Child Old Enough to Attend a Funeral?
Many parents take age into consideration too much when deciding whether or not to allow their child to attend a funeral. However, the truth is that your child is an important part of your family, and if your child is old enough to love, then they are old enough to grieve. No child is too young to attend a funeral, and although children may grieve in different ways to adults, so long as they are prepared as to what to expect from a funeral and know that you are there to support them through it if needed, they should be able to take part. Often, not being able to attend the funeral of a loved one can make a child feel left out, which can make the grieving process more difficult.
Preparing Your Child for the Funeral
Making sure that your child is prepared for the funeral beforehand is important, as if they have never attended one before, they will not know what to expect. If you are playing a part in the funeral planning, allowing your child to get involved with the funeral plans in some way, for example choosing flowers for the grave or asking their input on a piece of music to play, if appropriate, can help them to feel more involved and better prepared. By talking to your child about the funeral plan and what your loved one requested for it, you can easily bring up different topics when it comes to what they can expect.
Helping Your Child to Grieve
Throughout the stages of planning a funeral and attending a memorial for a loved one, it is important that you help your child to deal with their grief. Many children find it difficult to make sense of their emotions, and it is normal to find that your child is acting happy one moment and crying the next. It’s important to ensure that your child knows that these emotions are normal when grieving – rather than telling them not to cry, explain that it’s OK to cry if they are missing their loved one. It’s also important to acknowledge to your child that it’s also OK to feel numb; sometimes the feelings can come later on. Ensuring that your child understands that grief is a human, normal process to go through when losing a loved one is essential to supporting them.
Whether or not to bring your child along to a funeral can be a tricky decision, and it’s ultimately down to you as the parent to decide whether or not it’s right for them.