Funerals can be difficult for children who have never attended one in the past, so if a loved one has passed away and your family is planning on attending the funeral services, you should talk to your child first in order to prepare them for what’s ahead, as well as to quell any fears and uncertainties that they may feel. Whether you’re planning a funeral with one of the many types of funeral services available or you’re simply attending, check out the tips below for talking to your child about attending their first funeral.
Explaining Death to Your Children
When it comes to explaining death to your children, you should do so in the same way that you’d explain other topics with your child, particularly life’s milestones. The facts should be offered up in an honest, non-threatening, simple, and straightforward way, and you should be caring along the way and willing to answer questions. Remember, children can often tell when their parents aren’t telling the whole truth.
Also, your child may even already know something about death, so you should find out what they know first, and then work on encouraging your child to share their fears, observations, and thoughts during and after the funeral services.
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Let Them Know What to Expect
After discussing what death is to your child, you can then discuss what they should expect when they attend the funeral service. For example, you can talk about what the ritual ultimately signifies, why the services are done the way that they’re done, and why so many people gather together to remember the deceased individual.
If your family is planning on attending a wake during which there will be an open casket, you should let your child know in advance that they should expect to see that as well. In this way, they won’t be surprised to see the deceased in the funeral home if they were only expecting a closed casket. Let your child know that this is done to see the person for one last time and to give people the opportunity to say goodbye.
Prepare Your Child for the Cremation or the Burial
Children who have never attended a funeral may not comprehend where the body goes after the funeral services, so whether your loved one will be buried or cremated, you should explain this aspect of the funeral to your child as well.
Let your child know what happens during the cremation process and why people choose to be cremated. And, in the same way, help your child understand the burial process and the fact that everyone will be able to visit the grave of the deceased to pay their respects whenever they want to.
By preparing your child for their first funeral, you can take the mystery and the fear out of the event. This will be an important milestone in your child’s life, so taking the time to discuss what it all means and what your child should expect will make the process easier on everyone involved.