Empowering Families: A Guide to Children Attending Funerals and Burial Services

Deciding whether to bring children to a funeral is a challenging and emotional choice. Parents often worry about their child's understanding, behavior, and emotional well-being. However, involving children in the funeral process can be an important step in their comprehension of loss and the cycle of life.

Ultimately, as a parent, you must decide what feels right for your child. There is no one-size-fits-all guide or advice. We hope this guide provides you with some answers and questions to help you make the best decision for your family.

Let's explore some considerations to help you decide.

Can Children Attend Funerals and Burials?

Yes, children can participate and attend funerals and burial services. While some families may prefer a child-free environment during these solemn occasions, many welcome the presence of children. If you're uncertain, ask a family member or close friend. Often, children were important in the lives of the deceased, and their presence can bring closure to the child.

At What Age Should Children Attend Funerals or Burials?

Age isn't the sole factor; it's about the child's understanding and readiness. Child psychologists suggest that most children develop an awareness of death by age 8-10, but even younger children may have varying degrees of understanding.

Should I Take My Children to a Funeral or Burial?

Deciding whether to take your child to a funeral or burial requires thoughtful consideration. Assess your child's temperament, the nature of the ceremony, and their own desires. Involve them in the decision-making process and provide age-appropriate explanations to ease any apprehensions.

What If I Don’t Want My Children at the Funeral or Burial?

If you decide not to bring your child to the funeral, explore alternative ways for them to say goodbye. These could include visiting the cemetery later, creating a memory book, or engaging in an activity to remember the person.

Should Children Attend a Family Member’s Funeral?

For children who shared a close bond with the deceased, attending the funeral can help provide closure and offer an opportunity to pay their respects. It allows them to understand they are not alone and that their feelings are shared by others. A sense of community is always important.

How to Explain What Happens at a Funeral or Burial to Children?

Simplify explanations about the funeral and burial process, ensuring they understand the basics without overwhelming them with complex details.

Many locations, like Beechwood, offer Venue Guides or Social Stories. These tools break down the funeral and burial process into steps and can help anyone understand what is happening.

How to Make Funerals and Burials Easier for Young Children?

Tailor your approach based on your child's individual needs and preferences. Prepare them for what to expect, involve them in meaningful ways, and consider getting the support of an adult to assist them during the service. It's okay to leave during the service with your child to walk around, go to the bathroom, or ensure they don't get overwhelmed. If the funeral home knows ahead of time that there will be many children, they can provide a quiet room as well.

Should Children Be Shielded from Death?

While shielding children from death may seem protective, involving them in the funeral and burial process can encourage compassion and understanding, preparing them for life's realities. Understanding that people can be sad or find joy in special memories can help your child with their own sense of loss. Being surrounded by family and friends can show your child they aren’t alone and have people they can talk to who feel the same way.

Are Children Allowed Time Off School for a Funeral?

Schools typically accommodate requests for time off to attend funeral or burial services and can offer support to help children cope with grief upon their return. It's good to advise the teacher of a loss to ensure proper support. If the child has lost someone close, such as a parent or close family member, it may be beneficial to speak to the school and get more time away to grieve. However, as a parent, it's important to check in with your child to make sure they are ready to go back.

What Should Children Wear to a Funeral?

Following standard funeral and burial practices, children are often dressed in black or dark clothing to reflect the solemnity of the occasion. However, it's not necessary and not something to stress about during this period. It might be better to make sure the children are dressed comfortably.

Does Beechwood Provide Anything for Children Attending a Funeral?

Beechwood’s Echo the Fox is a companion for children during funeral services, a comforting presence to hold and cuddle when things get confusing or difficult. Given during the funeral services, children are invited to cuddle with their Echo whenever they feel sad or miss their loved one. Echo’s purpose goes beyond the funeral services; he can be used as a teaching tool to open conversations about death and the grieving process. Please advise the funeral director of the number of children expected to attend. 

Deciding whether to involve children in funerals is deeply personal and requires careful consideration of various factors. By engaging children in age-appropriate discussions and providing support tailored to their needs, parents can navigate this challenging terrain with sensitivity and compassion, ultimately fostering their children's understanding and resilience in the face of loss.