No child is too young to go to a funeral, as long as they are prepared for the process and what he or she can expect to see at the funeral proceedings. If you plan to bring a child to a funeral, then it is also important they be guided lovingly throughout the entire process. This is the best thing you can do to aid in their grieving and is much better than shutting them out, as this gives them the feeling that they are alone and that both grief and death are things that are too terrible to face. Instead, children need to learn that loved ones do pass away, but there will always be someone to look after them. Let’s take a look at some tips for preparing children for a visitation, viewing, wake, or funeral.
Explain the Proceedings Thoroughly
It is important for children to have a grasp of exactly what they will be doing and who will be at the proceedings. Additionally, you should explain where and when the service will be occurring. By filling in all of the gaps in your child’s knowledge, you will be able to make the whole idea of a funeral less foreboding to them.
Take Them to Visit the Location Beforehand
If it is a possibility, you may want to consider taking your child to see the funeral home, house of worship, or mortuary beforehand. It is a good idea to show them around and point out the drinking fountains, restrooms, and play/rest area. Let them know that they do not have to stay there for the entire time if they don’t feel up to it. Explain that they can go for a walk or play outside with an adult.
Let Them Help with Some of the Funeral Activities
If your child is up for it, let him or her help with some of the funeral activities, which will aid them in feeling more involved with the entire process. For example, you can get them to help pick out a casket, choose jewelry or clothing for their loved one to wear, and select readings, songs, or music for the funeral. It is also a very good idea to ask them to draw a picture or write a note to put inside of the casket.
Ensure They Understand the Reason for the Event
Make sure that children understand that the purpose of a funeral is for friends and families to come together to tell their deceased loved one that they love them and to say their goodbyes. It is also a time to celebrate the life of the person who passed away and pay their respects to them, as well as receive support and comfort and be around people who care. Ensure that you explain all of these reasons to your child so that they can grasp the reason everyone is gathering after the passing of his or her loved one.
What Do You Do If Your Child Does Not Want to Be in Attendance?
It is important to encourage your child to attend the memorial service or funeral. Let them know that as a family; it is important to go to a family event and that you expect them to attend with you. You may want to say that it is important to you personally to have them go with you and so ask that they go for your sake. If saying all of this has no impact and your child still refuses to go, then it is best that you don’t push the matter. Instead, it is important that you don’t make your child feel guilty for not going and to take photographs or make a video of the proceeding if they want to watch it at a later date.
In the Case of a Cremation
If the deceased family member is getting cremated, then it is important that you skillfully explain the cremation process to your child. You can tell them that there is a building called a crematorium, in which there is a room that has a special fire unlike any that he or she has seen. Make sure that they know that the deceased loved on will not feel any pain or heat, because he or she has passed on and so a body that doesn’t have life will not feel anything. Explain that the cremation is extremely hot so that it will turn the body into a very soft and fine ash, which is called the cremains. Teach them that these may be placed in an urn and buried, placed in a special building, or could be scattered in a beautiful area that is special to the deceased loved one, such as his or her favorite fishing spot. Explain a cremation as gently as possible to your child, but still to be truthful