Should You Bring Children to a Funeral or Memorial Service?

It is entirely appropriate to have children present at a funeral or memorial service, and can often be a good way for a child to gain closure, say “goodbye” to the person who died, and learn about the life-cycle. If a child is interested in attending the funeral or memorial service, there is little reason to deny him or her this experience. Likewise, if a child is not interested in attending the service, it may be best to let the child skip the event.

Hiring a babysitter

You should feel free hire a babysitter for any young children who might not be attending the service, and funeral homes, religious places of worship, and other venues will often have separate rooms that can be used for babysitting purposes. You can also hire a babysitter to sit with children during the service, if you anticipate feeling overwhelmed and being unable to give your children the necessary attention.

Preparing a child for the funeral or memorial service

If you are planning on having children attend a funeral or memorial service, you may want to prepare them for the experience. It can be helpful to talk about what the child should expect, which may include discussing the order of events at the ceremony, preparing a child for viewing an open casket, letting the child know how long he or she will be sitting still, or preparing the child for any role in the ceremony he or she might have. In addition, the child should be made aware that a funeral or memorial service is often a very sad event, and people at the service may be crying.

Discussing death with children

Funerals and memorial services can be confusing for children who don’t have an understanding of what death is, and can provide an opportunity to talk to children about any ideas or misconceptions about death that the child might have. Everyone has different thoughts and feelings about death based on personal experiences, religious and cultural beliefs, and other factors, and your children may have an understanding of death based on popular culture or fairy tales that may contradict your beliefs. It can be a good idea to tailor the conversation to the child’s age, experience, and level of maturity, especially as the death of a loved one can be a frightening experience and concept for many children.

Following-up with the child

After the service, it can be helpful to follow up with the child about his or her experience of the funeral or memorial service, and answer any questions that may have arisen.

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