Should Children Attend 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, there is little reason to deny him or her this experience. Likewise, if a child is not interested in attending the funeral, 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. It can also be a good idea to have a babysitter present for a child who is attending the service if the child’s parents will be busy managing the funeral or overcome with grief.

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. This 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.

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, and answer any questions that may have arisen.

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