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Wed Jul 16, 2014, 06:47 PM

How and When Should Children Attend Funerals?

I was a grief and loss counselor for many years, and used this handout frequently in my work. I hope others find it helpful.

How and When Should Children Attend Funerals?

Funerals are a time we gather to honor a person’s life and to mark his or her passing. Attending a funeral helps people experience their loss with community support, and begin the transition to living without a loved one. Even though it may be difficult and painful, this participation helps grieving people, whether adults or children.

Each child is unique, with individual worries and abilities to handle social interactions. Therefore, while encouraging a child to attend a funeral, give a genuine choice about attending. It may be appropriate to allow for some options, such as attending a private family time at the funeral home before the service begins.

Here are some things to keep in mind when talking to children about funerals:
• Give children specific information about what they will see at the funeral. Tell them where the funeral will take place, what the room will look like, who will be coming, how long the service is likely to take, etc.

• Let children know that people attending the funeral will show many different emotions and may express them intensely. People may be upset, and it is good for people to express these feelings. Also, let the child know that people may smile, laugh and enjoy remembering good and funny things about the loved one who died.

• Let children know that funerals are important. They are a place for people to come together in their sadness over a loss. They also honor the life of the person who died and affirm that life goes on.

• Funeral homes will usually accommodate allowing children to visit before the funeral with only a few close caring adults. This may allow the children to feel more comfortable and give them a chance to talk more freely and ask questions.

• Try to provide for the child to have a close person to be available just to them at all times during the funeral process. This person needs to be a caring presence, able to focus on the child.

• Recognize that children often experience short bursts of emotion. They are impacted by loss, but outward signs of their grief will come and go. Allow for the full range of emotions in children, including happiness, playfulness, sadness, and anger.

• Give the children a choice about whether to view the body. Children often have no innate fear about the body, and seeing the body provides a chance to say goodbye and makes the loss more real.

• Listen to what children say and watch what they do. It is important to let children express what losing their loved one is like for them.

• Provide the child with life affirming messages. Even though loss is painful, life continues.

The Community Hospice, Inc. 2006

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Reply How and When Should Children Attend Funerals? (Original post)
DeadLetterOffice Jul 2014 OP
orleans Jul 2014 #1
DeadLetterOffice Jul 2014 #2
orleans Jul 2014 #3
onecent Aug 2014 #4

Response to DeadLetterOffice (Original post)

Wed Jul 16, 2014, 10:36 PM

1. thank you for taking the time to post all of these. i really appreciate it and i'm sure

many people will find your posts helpful and informative.

i know i did.

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Response to orleans (Reply #1)

Thu Jul 17, 2014, 08:07 AM

2. I hope so.

I developed these back when I worked for hospice, because there weren't any good, short, useful information sheets to give my clients. Telling a grieving person to go read this book or that book seemed ridiculous, since most grieving folks find it hard to concentrate for that long.

My father died three weeks ago, and I printed out the parent loss one and stuck it to my fridge -- turns out being a grief specialist doesn't make you immune to grieving.

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Response to DeadLetterOffice (Reply #2)

Thu Jul 17, 2014, 10:05 AM

3. you're so right about books and the ability to concentrate

it was four or five months before i was finally willing and able to open a book after my mom died. the book i decided to read was "we don't die: george anderson's conversations with the other side" which i found very comforting.

i'm very sorry for your loss.

we're here for you.

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Response to DeadLetterOffice (Original post)

Mon Aug 11, 2014, 08:02 PM

4. Yes thank you for these. I lost my husband

7 years ago and I am not sure it is true that 'time heals all wounds".... I have read alot
of books about passing over....

I am sorry to hear about the loss of your father. Thank you for sharing these tips.

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