Should My Child Attend the Funeral?

The first few days following a death are chaotic and overwhelming for everyone involved. Tell young children of the events they need to be prepared for, such as those surrounding the funeral, memorial, or wake that you have instructed your family to have on your behalf.
Do not force your children into doing something they do not want to do. Some children prefer to attend services and others may choose to remain away. Adolescents also need this option. Give them the opportunity to make their own decision. Be careful not to ask leading questions such as, “You don’t want to attend the funeral, do you?” Merely give them the information they need to make their own choices. They may or may not change their mind, but hopefully in the future they will not regret attending or staying away from the ceremony because they felt it was what you wanted them to do.
Make them feel needed and useful if they wish to be involved. Many children, teens included, may want to take part by answering the door, answering the phone, taking coats, and so on. Older children may wish to stay behind and watch over the younger children while others attend the ceremony. It is important to include them in a way they are comfortable with, especially if it helps them feel they are doing their part to be involved in the events. Many children make photo collages for the funeral or write letters to their parent to be placed with them.

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