Should You Take Kids to Funerals?
Funerals, even under the best of circumstances, are a frightening experience. When you add in the formal and often austere backdrop of a funeral home and cemetery, the result can be one that is not welcoming to kids.
However, just like adults, children must go through their own process of grief and understanding when it comes to death. And for many children, this means being able to say goodbye and share in the experience of a group of friends and family coming together to celebrate life and honor death. Whether the funeral is in the planning stages or if you’re trying to decide what is appropriate for your family, the following checklist should help you determine if bringing your kids to a funeral is the right choice.
Are children welcome?
Some families like having children at a funeral because of the youth and vibrancy they bring to the setting. Nothing celebrates life more than having youth around to remind us all that life goes on. However, others might feel that children provide a disruption to what should be a quiet and respectful time.
Be sure and ask whether or not children are invited before bringing yours, and remember to respect the wishes of both the deceased and those closest to him or her.
What would the deceased have preferred?
Funeral pre-planning can help answer these questions before they are even asked. A beloved grandparent might wish for the entire family to gather together, and the decision of whether or not to include children can be made in advance. Remember, though, that things like open caskets or heavily religious text might be too much for some children to handle, so if you are pre-planning with the whole family in mind, you may want to tailor the ceremony accordingly.
Can your children remain still and quiet?
Babies and very small children aren’t very predictable in the best of circumstances, and sitting through a ceremony quietly might be too much for many children – and for their parents, who are also trying to grieve.
Many people find that leaving children with a sitter for the ceremony, but bringing them in for a wake or other post-burial celebration, is a great way to incorporate them in the funeral process. How will you child “handle” death? Young children do not have the ability to grasp what death is or what it means for the long-term. These kids have little to gain from attending a funeral, since they will not understand most of the meaning and may even be more frightened by death than if they were introduced to the topic over time and in the comfort of their own home.