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Should you take a child to a funeral?

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Should you take a child to a funeral? It may be a question many of us have asked at some point in our lives but as grown-ups we know that death is a part of life.  We may or may not have been touched by the death of a loved one or close friend personally, but we at least grasp the concept of what death is.  For children it is a very different story, and the jury’s out on whether it’s appropriate for parents to allow children to accompany them to a funeral.

How old is your child?

Children under the age of 3 can be difficult to keep quiet.  At a funeral this can be disruptive and viewed as disrespectful.  Given that a child under 3 really has little concept of what is happening, it is perhaps wise to keep them away, and easier on all concerned, including you.

With older children it is a more complex decision.  Many children of 4 and over have very definite views on life, even if their contextual understanding of adult concepts such as time, and death itself, is limited.  Giving children of this age a choice of whether to attend or not is generally recommended and, crucially, having offered that choice to them it is important to respect their decision.  Your child will only feel their point of view is valued if you follow through on this.

What can you say to your child to help?

Being honest about the death is vital with children of any age.  Explaining in age appropriate language what has happened, and what the funeral means, will help your child arrive at a decision they feel comfortable with.  It is unlikely that very young children will remember the specifics of a funeral when they are older, but they are sure to remember being included, or choosing to exclude themselves in a way that felt empowering and non-threatening.Should you take a child to a funeral

Encouraging your child to talk about the death and the funeral will help them make sense of it in ways that are accessible to them.  Let them know it’s ok to cry because losing someone you love makes you sad.  Reassure them that seeing people upset the funeral is ok, that feelings need to come out.  Make sure that if your child decides to attend the funeral you talk them through what will happen, and give them chance before and afterwards to express and feelings or fears they may have about it.

Ask around

Funeral Directors are dealing with families facing this dilemma every day.  As them for their thoughts, and also any family members of friends who have faced a similar decision.  You are not alone in this, and often simply talking it through can help to clarify your thoughts and arrive at a decision you are happy with.

What can you do at the funeral to help?

Depending on how deeply you have yourself been affected by the death, it may be advisable to have a friend who your child feels comfortable around accompany you to the funeral.  That way, if your child becomes restless, or you become too emotionally distressed, the friend will be on hand to take them out of the service and distract them for you.

Ultimately, as with all parenting choices there is no right or wrong answer to this.  As parents you are best placed to gauge the maturity of your child, and also their particular response to the death of the person whose funeral you will be attending.  Not going could have as great an effect as going.  If you act in good faith with your child’s best interests at heart then surely you can do no better?





About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, whatsapp plus,travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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