A child funeral can be a deeply meaningful experience for the entire family. However, a funeral can also be overwhelming for a toddler and may even be too much to bear. For this reason, parents should weigh the pros and cons of a funeral and consider carefully what will be best for their child.
Toddlers are often very sensitive and can pick up on the emotions of those around them. This is especially true for those who are grieving. People can weep, yell, collapse, and say things that may be frightening for your child. For this reason, it is important to discuss the funeral and explain what will happen in a way that your child will understand.
Ideally, it is best to talk to your child about the funeral and death in general before they ever attend. This will help them be prepared and less likely to act out. However, if you feel like it is too soon or that your toddler does not yet understand the meaning of death, then you should consider skipping the funeral and simply having a private memorial service with them at a later date.
For children who want to attend, it is a good idea to talk with them about what will happen at the funeral and memorial service. For example, it is important to explain that people will wear dark clothes and be quiet for long periods of time. It is also helpful to tell them who will be there, including relatives and close friends.
You should also let them know that it is OK if they feel uncomfortable or do not want to go and that they can always leave if they need to. It is important to reassure them that they will be loved no matter what decision they make.
Once your child has decided to attend, it is a good idea for them to have a “funeral buddy.” This is a trusted adult that can play with or read to them, keep them company, and help explain different activities and rituals. It is also a good idea to take them on a tour of the funeral home and other venues before the services so they feel familiar with the place.
Some families choose to have their children publicly participate in the service by reading a poem or letter or leaving something special, such as a picture or stuffed animal, at the coffin. This is a wonderful way to allow your child to express their grief in a safe and supportive environment.
If you decide to have a funeral, it is important to have a clear understanding of what the cost will be. It is a good idea to create a budget in advance so you do not get any unexpected bills. It is also a good idea to have a fund set aside for funeral expenses. For more information, check out our help with funeral costs page. You should also consider talking with your child’s pediatrician about the funeral and what to expect.