Do you remember the first funeral you went to? How old were you? What do you remember most about it? Your experience may have been benign, or it could have been traumatic – it probably has more to do with how the adults handled the situation than with the actual events of the funeral.
Many people wonder if a child can be too young to attend a funeral. They might be concerned it will be confusing or frightening for them. The reality is most children aren’t as scared of death as you might think they are. It could be very healing for them to have the opportunity to say goodbye to a loved one with the rest of their family.
Most experts agree there are two important steps when it comes to approaching the topic of funerals and children:
1.) Provide them with information.
Let them know what to expect, so they’re not nervous or confused. The National Center for Grieving Children and Families recommends you cover the following points with a child before attending a funeral:
Who . . . will be there?
What . . . is going to happen?
Where . . . will the service take place?
When . . . will the funeral happen?
Why . . . are we doing this?
2.) Give them a choice.
If you force a child to attend a funeral, or insist they be excluded because of their age, that could lead to feelings of resentment in the child they could carry for their whole life. After making sure they understand what a funeral is going to be like and the purpose behind it, give them the power to decide whether or not they want to go. Don’t make them feel guilty for whatever choice they make.
While in the end, each parent has to decide what is best for their family, it’s always important to remember that a funeral doesn’t have to focus on death and darkness, and at Krause, we are committed to making every farewell a celebration of life through the signature services we offer to families.
If you have lost someone you love, and you, or your children, need help with grief, please reach out to us. Our compassionate staff can help connect you with local and national resources for family grief issues.