Funerals are often bewildering affairs for children, who can find them strange or even discomfiting. As an adult, you may be at a loss when it comes to explaining funerals to children. The emotional upheaval from losing a loved one, plus the religious rituals or social practices that come with the funeral, can exacerbate negative emotions. Many adults believe that children are insulated from sadness due to their limited understanding of death, thus neglecting them in the grieving process. However, they often understand more than we give them credit for. As such, it is worthwhile to take the time to speak honestly to your children about death and funerals, since they are a natural part of life.
Speaking to your children can also minimize stress and help them understand the deep sense of loss that they feel. Children need extra support and encouragement from parents or adult caregivers and they do not possess the coping strategies that adults do. Read on to find out how to broach this difficult topic with children.
Explaining the Process of a Funeral
Before taking children to funerals, it helps if you prepare them in advance for the experience. Consider if they are prepared to see the body of the departed if it is an open casket, especially if the child is at a young age. Children benefit from clear and honest explanations of what is going to occur because it helps them to tailor their expectations accordingly. A good way to start is by discussing the different aspects of a funeral service.
- Viewing / The Wake: Before you attend a viewing or a wake with your child, explain what the event is and let them know they might see the body of the departed. Some funeral homes offer private viewings for family members to pay their respects before the wake, which creates a controlled environment for children who may be especially upset or scared.
- Funeral Service: Discuss the type of funeral that you will be attending and the events that will occur during the funeral service, including the eulogy, tributes, songs, prayers, or religious rituals. Not all funerals are the same, which varies in accordance with culture and religion. It is important to discuss funeral traditions with your child – and to take the opportunity to teach them funeral etiquette.
- Graveside Ceremony: This aspect of the funeral involves lowering the casket into the grave and laying the departed to rest. This can be a very emotional experience, which may cause some stress for your child. It is okay to allow your child to skip the graveside ceremony if this is the case.
- Cremation: Explain to your child that this process would not hurt the departed and explain words like ashes and how they are buried or displayed.
We Are Here to Make it Easier
At American Heritage Cemetery & Funeral Home, we utilize our expertise to help friends and family members in this difficult time. We ensure that the process of putting your loved ones to rest is carried out with respect and dignity. Please feel free to contact us to learn more about our professional services.