Funerals can be a tough topic to discuss with a young child. It can often be a confusing situation for them and they may not fully understand the concept of a funeral. It can then be worrying for the parent or caretaker who must decide how to approach the situation. That is why we have prepared a guide to help with the idea of preparing and bringing your child to a funeral.
Prepare them in advance
It is crucial that you explain things before bringing your child to a funeral such as what the child will see and what to expect. This allows them enough time to process, ask questions and understand what is happening. Not informing the child can make for a stressful situation for all parties. To help prepare them you should:
- Tell them the news in a safe space – Before bringing your child to a funeral, you should let them know in the simplest way possible what has happened. The best place to tell them this would be in a space they feel safe in such as their home. This allows them to feel comfortable and at ease, whilst also providing them privacy.
- Be considerate and attentive – Everyone reacts to upsetting news in their own way and that is why it is important to be considerate and attentive. They may need time to process the news alone or they may require consoling. It is best to let your child cope in the way they wish, whilst also offering them support if they need it.
- Be open with them – Be as honest as possible when letting your child know what they should expect when attending the funeral. It is worth telling them that there may be people who are upset, as this can sometimes overwhelm a young child. Telling your child what to expect can often reduce stress.
- Explain how a funeral works – Giving a short description of how a funeral works can really help a child understand what it is all about. Before bringing your child to a funeral, answer any questions they may have. You can also provide them with any other resources they may need and you should ask them if they are okay to attend with you.
- Inform them of etiquette – It is worth making your child aware that the situation requires them to be on their best behaviour. Of course, there may be moments that your child forgets this however, a gentle reminder is good enough should this be the case. Asking your child to stay with you, to be polite and quiet when needed is plenty enough.
Attending the funeral
Should your child wish to come to the funeral with you, there are things you can do when attending together. By following these steps, you will allow your child to be in a position where they are ready, prepared and aware.
- Be sure to arrive early – Arriving early when bringing your child to a funeral will allow you both to settle down and take in the surroundings. This is a good opportunity to reassure your child before the service commences. Reminding them that you are there for them will help your child feel safe and supported.
- Be involved – Involving your child encourages them to feel a part of the situation that they otherwise may feel secluded from. Picking flowers and laying them, making a condolence card or giving a small speech can all help your child process the situation better.
- Bring distractions – It is worth bringing some small no-noise distractions with you for your child. Bringing your child to a funeral can often mean that they will have to sit quietly and still for a long period of time. This can be quite challenging for any child. Bringing pens, paper, a teddy or a toy will help keep your child occupied throughout the funeral.
- Reassure and help them – When bringing your child to a funeral, there may be times that your child becomes unsure and upset throughout the service. This is when it is good to reassure and offer them support. Anything from a hug, holding hands or a small smile can help your child know that they will be okay. If you need to remove them from the situation, it is okay to do so. It may be what is best for them.
Bringing your child to a funeral does not have to be a daunting experience. If they feel aware, comforted and prepared – they should be able to cope well. It is okay if they do not cope well too. Just remember to reassure them and guide them through.
If you’re looking for a trusted funeral director, please feel free to contact us today. We are always here to offer any advice or help you may need. We can also help with other useful information, should you need it.