Should Children Attend a Funeral?

Published: January 20, 2023

Children can bring so much joy to those who are grieving, and their precious lives give hope for a bright future. However, one might wonder if it is a good idea to have children attend a funeral. We would like to address this question and hope that this information will help you and your family make the very best decision for your child and for everyone involved. Here are a few things you may want to consider.

Family Tradition and Culture

Each family uniquely represents a rich heritage of cultural traditions. Families whose culture allows children to attend funerals may still want to take each situation on a case-by-case basis. Parents should know what is best for their child, but they should also try to get a feel for the grieving family and their cultural traditions. If children are invited, and the parents believe that their child would benefit from going with them to the service, they can address this opportunity carefully and wisely. We recommend that you have meaningful conversations beforehand with your child, explaining what death is and what to expect at the event. Be very gentle and do not pressure your child. And always be approachable, assuring your child that they are welcome to come to you anytime with questions and concerns.  

Consider the Grieving Family and other Attendees

If you are involved in planning a funeral, you may want to consider hiring trustworthy individuals to provide a nursery for children two and under. Young children, along with all the joy and happiness they bring, can also be noisy. It can be unnerving for the grieving family if a reflective service is interrupted by children talking, giggling, crying, or screaming. 

If you have young children, and you know childcare will not be provided, consider leaving your young children with a grandparent or babysitter. Then you will not need to worry about your child disrupting the event, and you will be free to encourage grieving family members with a listening ear and an encouraging word.

Ask your child if they want to go.

Children mature at different ages. However, if your child is around seven years old, you can ask them if they want to go to the funeral or not. If your child has reached an age of understanding about things surrounding death, it is best if they can decide for themselves if they want to go or do not want to go.

Initially, your child may not know what a funeral is. You may want to explain that Grandma or Grandpa, or whoever the funeral is for, is not in their body anymore. You can use a shell as an example. Their body is just their outer shell, and they will not be able to talk to us or play with us anymore. Depending on your view of the afterlife, conversations about heaven can help children feel more peaceful if they can understand that Grandpa or Grandma is in a better place. These concepts will affect children differently. For some children, these concepts are terrifying. For others, they are curious about life and death, wanting to know more. Do not pressure your child to go or not go. Try to follow their lead. 

Ask the grieving family their preference.

The family represented by the person who died may be a very child-friendly family. Other families are less child-oriented. You may want to ask your friend, who may be the child of the deceased, how their family feels about children attending the funeral. They will probably appreciate your thoughtfulness!

Modern funerals are often organized around a certain theme, and some families plan activities for children. At the meal following the service there may be a child’s arts and crafts table. But, do not plan on this option. Bring along a bag filled with snacks, your child’s favorite books, and quiet toys to help them throughout the event. It is also a possibility that the grieving family would prefer children not attend the funeral but they would welcome children at the meal afterwards. So, if possible, ask someone who understands the wishes of the grieving family. 

We hope these ideas will help you as you navigate the prospect of your child attending a funeral. If you have any questions, please check out our website  or call us at 508-673-0781 for further assistance. 

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