Whether or not to take children to a funeral can be a difficult thing to consider. On one hand, funeral services can be an important part of the grieving process, regardless of a person's age. On the other hand, you don't want your children to disrupt such an important event, even though they certainly wouldn't do so deliberately. What are some of the things you should consider before taking your kids to a funeral service?
1. Their Relationship With the Deceased
What was their specific relationship with the deceased? When it was a family member or a close friend of the family, your child undoubtedly had a relationship with the deceased, and so it can be beneficial for your child to be there to say goodbye. When the connection wasn't quite so meaningful, then it might not be entirely necessary for your child to attend.
2. An Open Casket
You should enquire about whether the service will feature an open casket. While your child will understand that the deceased's coffin will be on display during the service, it might be a bit too confronting when the coffin is open, especially for younger children. This one is a personal decision and largely depends on how you think your child will process the sight of a human body, particularly when it was someone they knew and loved.
3. Church Services
When the funeral service is to take place in a church, it might be helpful to give your child a test run of sorts. If you're amongst the approximately 92% of Australians who don't regularly attend church, you could consider taking your child to a service prior to the funeral, allowing them to get an idea of what it's like to be inside a church during a structured occasion. Alternatively, you could tell them that it will be similar to a school assembly in that they're expected to remain quiet and pay attention throughout the proceedings.
4. Strategic Seating
When you don't have a specific role in the service, it can be helpful to take a seat (alongside your children) towards the back of the church or funeral chapel. You will have done everything you can to mentally prepare your child and to let them know what to expect, but the actual service may become a bit much for them. By sitting at the back of the hall, you can make a discreet exit without disrupting the service.
It's not as though children should be discouraged from attending a funeral, but there are certain things to think about before deciding that they should attend.