Even adults don’t want to deal with death, so trying to protect your child from death seems to make a lot of sense. Every parent’s first instinct is to keep their children from harm, which often means keeping children out of services at funeral homes in Newtown, PA. However, in many cases, keeping a kid from attending a funeral could actually do more harm than good.
Children who don’t get the chance to say goodbye to a loved one at a funeral might feel resentment that they missed out, might not get the closure they need to heal and grieve in a healthy way, and might even develop untrue and scary scenarios in their minds about death because they weren’t exposed to the truth. The memorialization process is very important for mourning and dealing with grief in a healthy and constructive way. This is true for kids just as it is true for adults.
Childcare experts say that children should have a say in the matter of whether or not they should attend a funeral.
Ask your child if he wants to go to the memorial service and make every effort to respect his choice. In order to make sure his choice is informed, give him plenty of information about what he will see and experience at the event. Talk about memorial or funeral details like who will be there; what will happen throughout the day and the funeral itself, from eating and drinking to sitting still during the service; where the funeral will take place, and even why memorial services happen in the first place. Go into as much detail as you feel necessary, especially when it comes to the step-by-step description of the event to dispel any anxiety or untrue ideas your child may have about memorial services, funerals and death. If he has questions, do your best to answer thoroughly but simply, sticking to the basics and remaining honest.
If your child chooses to go to the memorial service or funeral, take care to explain that he isn’t expected to feel any certain way. Some people at the event might be crying or very sad, and that’s OK. He can cry or be sad, or express however he’s feeling in a respectful way. Let your child participate as much or as little as he wants, whether that means sitting quietly during the service, choosing photos for a memorial collage, coloring a picture to put up as decoration, or lighting a candle during the service. Don’t forget to follow-up with your child after the funeral or memorial service to see if he has any questions.
Finally, be sure to avoid using euphemisms about death. “Grandpa passed away” or “Grandpa is sleeping” are very confusing and untrue. Make it clear that death is permanent, but it doesn’t have to be scary.