When a family member or friend passes away, should your child attend the funeral? What age is appropriate? — The truth is, there is no right answer. It depends on the maturity level of the child and their capacity for understanding and dealing with death.
Ask: Will Your Child Understand?
It’s likely your child has never attended a funeral before, and therefore cannot fully understand what’s going on. Talk to your child about funerals and funeral traditions; if they are unwilling or unable to understand, it may be best to find other arrangements or alternatives for them. Here are a few tips for talking to your child about funerals:
- Explain to your child prior to attending exactly what to expect and how they should act.
- Be sure they understand they have to be quiet and respectful during the event.
- If they are going through the questioning phase, make sure they know they can ask them after the funeral.
Be sure you’re ready to talk to your child about the following:
- Staying healthy
Think About The Family
If you still aren’t sure about your child attending a funeral, ask someone close to the family to see if it would be appropriate. There are also many precautions you can take to keep your child quiet and still during the funeral. It’s important to whatever it takes to keep your child from being a nuisance and detraction to the mourning family.
Funeral Precautions For Children
- Be sure to sit by the door, just in case your child becomes unruly.
- Bring quiet things to do to keep your child entertained, such as a toy or coloring book.
- Make sure your child’s full and awake. A hungry or sleepy child is much more prone to be cranky.
- Give consequences. Let your child know exactly what will happen if they do act up.
- Give rewards. Let your child know exactly what he can expect if he does stay quiet during the funeral.
Funeral Alternatives for Children
If you determine your child is not ready to attend a funeral, think of alternatives that may be more appropriate, especially if the deceased was close to the child.
- Attend the wake or visitation instead. These tend to be more casual than the actual funeral.
- Help your child bake cookies or some other food gift to give to the family.
- Help your child create a card or other special gift they can give to the family.
- If your child was close to the deceased, help your child write a goodbye letter.
- Let your child choose their favorite funeral flowers to send to the family.
Importance of Funerals To Children
While funerals are a somber occasion, there is much for kids to learn about family, life and traditions. It’s good for children to see how important funerals are to our culture. When a loved one passes away, all family and friends stop their lives to celebrate the life and mourn the passing. Always remind your child that, although everyone may be in tears, funerals are always full of love.