Should you take children to a funeral?
When a child attends a funeral or cremation, it can help them to understand that death is final and gives them the chance to be with their family and friends to say goodbye. This can be an important part of the healing process.
The first thing to do is to ask your child if they’d like to go to the funeral. Sit down and talk to them about what this involves – who will be there, what will happen and why you are doing this. If your child is given clear information, they can make their own decision about whether or not they want to go.
If your child doesn’t want to go to the funeral…
* Reassure them that this is OK and that not everybody goes to a funeral.
* Ask them whether there’s anything they don’t understand about funerals or if they have any more questions.
* Let them know that they can change their mind – even if it’s on the day of the funeral.
* Perhaps ask them if they’d like you to tell them about the funeral when it’s over – again, reassuring them it’s OK if this isn’t what they want.
* Talk to them about how they’d like to be involved in saying goodbye without going to the funeral. They might want to help pick the funeral flowers or to write a poem to be read out at the service.
If your child wants to go to the funeral…
* Ask them if they have any questions about the funeral or if there’s anything they don’t understand.
* Explain that it’s OK to cry and it’s OK not to cry, and that they may even want to smile or laugh. Reassure them that whatever they feel like doing, that’s alright.
* You might want to ask someone trusted to help take care of your child during the ceremony.
* Include them in the planning of the funeral and look at ways they can be part of the service. They might want to write a poem or some special words that can be read out. Perhaps they could draw a picture of the deceased, which could be printed on the Order of Service. On the day, they might simply want to keep a special memento in their pocket.
After the funeral…
Whether or not your child wants to go to the funeral service, they can still be involved with commemorating the deceased’s life. Sit down together to talk about ways they’d like to remember their loved one. They might want to:-
* name a star
* plant a tree
* launch a balloon
* make a memory board
* You can download our free booklet, Talking to Children About Death, at