Experiencing the loss of a loved one is a difficult time for any family, and especially for children. It’s often hard for them to understand the whirlwind of emotions they’re going through. When the time comes for you to take your child to a funeral service, it can be a scary, confusing thing for them to experience and observe.
As a parent, it’s important for you to take time to sit down with your child before the service and explain what’s going to take place, giving all the necessary details to help your child comprehend what to expect. With that in mind, here are a few helpful tips to prepare your child for an upcoming funeral service:
Explain the purpose of a funeral service, visitation, and burial.
Your child may not understand why it’s necessary to attend a funeral service, visitation, or burial, so it’s beneficial to start with the basics and explain how such ceremonies help loved ones gather together to support each other, share memories, say goodbye, and honor the loved one lost.
Let your child know they will see others expressing many different emotions.
As an adult, you know it’s very common for friends and family members to go through many emotional moments during a funeral service. Some may be laughing, sharing funny memories, and others may be shedding tears as they try to cope with the loss of the one that was close to their heart. Your child may not understand why grandma is crying, or why you’re crying, so it’s important to explain that everyone grieves differently, and any or all of these feelings are okay.
Tell them they may see their loved one laying in a casket
Adults understand that an open casket is often present at funerals and is a way for others to see their loved one a final time and say their goodbyes. However, for children this can be very confusing, and scary. Be sure to prepare them ahead of time that they may actually see their lost loved one, and never force them to go up to the casket if they’d rather not.
Encourage participation during the service.
Depending upon the relation and how comfortable your child feels about the idea, encourage and let your child be a part of the funeral service. Children may want to write a poem or color a picture to place on the table set aside for photos and memories, or even in the casket. You can suggest ideas like choosing or singing one of the songs, picking flowers, doing a reading, or saying a prayer. Allowing children to be involved may help with the healing process, so by all means let your child feel included and welcome to participate in the ceremony.
For young children, experiencing a funeral service can often be confusing, but taking time to explain the details and prepare them ahead of time will answer questions, help them know what to expect and lesson their anxiousness about the service. If you need help guiding your child through the grieving process, you can download our free coloring book, Ginger’s Pups, to encourage healing and hope. For additional support and encouragement, please contact us at Sytsema Funeral & Cremation Services by visiting our website or calling 231-726-5210 in Muskegon or 616-842-6100 in Grand Haven.