Children at funerals?

Children at funerals?
For a long time, it was believed that children could not understand death and well-intentioned parents simply kept them away when an immediate family member died. Yet, it is now established beyond a doubt, when faced with death of a significant person, children feel the same emotions as adults. They may express them differently, however. Of course, the majority of children under the age of 3 are unable to understand why their loved one is no longer there, nor the irrevocability of death, yet they experience grief or anxiety about the absence of their loved one.

Should we bring them to the funeral or memorial service?

For young children under the age of 8, several specialists offer to give them the choice after having explained what will happen and what to expect during this event.

Seeing the body of the loved one one last time can be a useful experience when the child expresses the need. If so, ask quickly, as it is possible without embalming, under certain conditions. 

Often, touching the urn and looking at the picture of the loved one can help recognize that they will not return. One or the other of these options is the starting point of the path which leads, in the long run, to a healthy integration of the loss.

Help them express themselves verbally

Children may find it difficult to express their feelings about the death of a loved one. This is normal because they do not yet understand what it means. They gradually understand that the loved one will not return. This usually causes a deep sense of abandonment. In order to prevent the child from having this feeling, the adult’s mission is to help the child express them self and verbalize their emotions. It will then be possible to rectify the perception, to make them admit the facts as they are and to make them understand that from now on, the loved one will be permanently in their heart. Talking about the circumstances of the death and above all, getting the child to understand that they are not responsible for the situation, allowing them to express their anger, their misunderstanding or their distress will help them overcome their grief gradually. When the responsible adult does not know how to go about it, it is good to consult a professional who will know how to accompany the child through their grieving process.

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