It is understandable why you may find it difficult to process your grief as you get ready to attend the funeral services. This is a difficult task for anyone to prepare for. However, parents also face the added pressure of determining if their children should attend the wake or funeral. That being said, there is no age rule for a child when it comes to funeral ceremonies.
In reality, age is not the most important consideration as every kid has a different maturity level. They cope with loss in different ways. Attending the funeral of their loved one may feel healing and therapeutic for some kids. However, for other children, being there could be overwhelming. If you are not certain if your children are ready to attend a wake or funeral, here are some factors that can help you make a decision.
Assess the Children’s Level of Understanding
As a parent, you must trust your intuition. You can start by speaking with your kids so you can assess their emotions and gauge how much they can handle. Tailor your talk based on your children’s age and level of maturity. Speak about the death in a simple manner and tell them what it would be like to attend the wake and burial.
During this conversation, you may even end up surprised by how much your children can process and understand. Though they are innocent, children are really smart. They have pure hearts that only want what’s best for everyone.
However, if you feel that your children are not emotionally prepared to attend, you can still have the discussion. It is a teaching moment that can allow you to explain the process of death and the afterlife. This talk is the perfect segue on topics surrounding death and loss, which could eventually ease their nervousness. How you handle this will provide the right cues for your children because it is not what you say that they remember but how you act that leaves the most impression.
Allow Your Children to Express Their Choice
As with many big decisions in life, your children’s feelings must never be taken for granted. You should take what they feel into consideration. Though one of your kids may feel comfy with the idea of being present during a funeral, your other child may feel awkward and choose to stay behind.
You may consider giving your children a choice. Just be sure to discuss the pros and cons of the situation based on their level of understanding. This way, they can honor the memory of the dead in a manner that makes sense for them. If they don’t want to attend the burial, taking them to a memorial service is an alternative.
You can also consider doing other activities that memorialize the one who passed away. You can make memory books, create picture frames, or play favorite songs. Taking part in these other ceremonies my feel more appropriate, especially for younger children.
Evaluate the Depth of Relationship with the Deceased
Another crucial factor to consider about your children’s attendance is their relationship with the one who passed away. Usually, if the kids have a very strong bond with the person being laid to rest, they feel more inclined to go. There’s a vast difference between a grandparent who took care of them versus a close neighbor they only see occasionally.
At the end of the day, it is up to you as the parent to completely decide what is best for your children. Always remember, you can never go wrong when you communicate with your kids honestly and openly. It is also important to validate their feelings and show respect for their thoughts.
Above all, keep in mind that attending the funeral is not the only way to honor the memory of a deceased family member or friend. You can do other meaningful activities and find creative ways to give tribute to the deceased. Do you have any ideas, or have you tried other alternatives yourself? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below.