How to Involve Children in a Funeral

A funeral is a time for mourning and can be difficult for children to attend. However, it is a necessary part of the grieving process and may help them come to terms with the death. It can also help them say goodbye to their loved one in a meaningful way and move on to a new chapter of their lives.

Children are often surprised and confused by death, and they need to be given clear and honest information to deal with the situation. If you decide to include them in the funeral, be sure to appoint an adult with whom they are familiar to care for them during the service and afterwards. It is also helpful to let them know that they can take a break or leave the services at any time if they need to.

Explaining what they can expect at the funeral is important, especially for younger children. This includes how long the service will last, where it will take place, who they might see there and what to expect if they are going to view the body. It is also helpful to talk about what will happen after the service, whether the casket will be buried or cremated. Explain that the person who died will be no longer alive and cannot feel anything, including pain.

In general, older children are better able to understand and cope with the loss of a loved one and may be more willing to attend the funeral. However, their grief can be complicated by many other factors and they may still need your support and guidance as they navigate the services.

If you decide to involve them in the funeral, it is also a good idea to ask them what they would like to do. They may want to see their sibling’s body, for example, and it is important to discuss this with them ahead of time to make sure that they are comfortable with the decision. If they do choose to see their sibling’s body, it is helpful to reassure them that the body is fully dressed and that they will be safe. Having siblings participate in the funeral service, such as reading a poem or story, or writing a letter, can help them feel close and included.

If you are having a service at your home, a funeral home or some other venue, you can ask for a kids room to be set up where children can color or play while the adults continue the service. You can also have them write a message to the deceased, which you can put in the casket or with the urn. Older children can be honorary pallbearers or act as ushers during the services. Lastly, you can ask friends and family to light candles or pass out luminaries as a way for them to remember your child.