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Question
Posted by: Krissy | 2011/08/02

Kids and Funerals

Do you think kids less than 10yrs old should attend funerals? I have an 8yrs old and a 4yrs old and wwe have a funeral in the family. My husband''s grandma passed away and I would like them to stay behind. I''m concerend they will be exposed to sadness, people crying and all, and that might make them sad. What do you think?
Thanks all for your response!

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Usually, I'd say yes. It depends in part on how well them kids knew the deceased - if they knew them well, even though the funeral may be distressing, it helps them to realize what is happening, when accompanied by a warmly sympathetic chat with their parents.
Sadness doesn't harm children, when it is appropriately aroused by sad events. Life is often sad, and we do them no service by pretending otherwise, and indeed run the risk of making it harder for them to handle the first really sad events that occur to them when we're not around to sanitize these.
Use the opportunity to explain things to them, and maybe begin by not assuming what they might know about death. They'll certainly know something - do you know how many deaths they will have witnessed on TV and in videogames already ? So ask them what they know and think about death. They will probably have noticed someting about what has happened to grandma from conversations overheard, and changes in the behaviour of their mom and dad.
Explanations should attend to what they want to know, rather than what you think they have to know ; and should be age appropriate - the 4 year-old will probably have simpler concerns than the 8 year-old.
You can explain what a funeral is, as an opportunity to fondly remember the person who is no longer with us, and maybe ask whether they would like to go or not. You woudn't, of course, force a reluctant child to attend, but generally they would be curious enough to want to go.
Talking about death, like talking about sex, shouldn't be a one-time only special offer, but an ongoing conversation, updated and revised as their experiences and concerns develop.
They may as well know that even adults get sad and weep, and that this is all right.

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6
Our users say:
Posted by: jojo | 2011/08/02

Please take them. When our son died, we just didn''t know how to tell our little girl, who is 7. We never told her &  we did not take her to the funeral. We only told her a week later. She knew that something was wrong but didn''t want to ask. She asked why we didn''t take her to her brother''s funeral. She asked to visit the grave &  I took her to show her where her brother was.


We just never knew how to tell her at the time. Her brother was only a month old when he died &  she had not seen him other than in pics, because he died in hospital. But she was upset that we kept this from her. When our other babies came home, she took a teddy &  placed it in the cot &  said that she was doing it for her brother.

Children understand better than we think. And I have learnt that they need to experience these things.

Reply to jojo
Posted by: Caro | 2011/08/02

I would say that it is good for children to be sensitised to death and sadness such as at a funeral. Our children are exposed to so much senseless death in the media that they never get to see the true effects of the loss to other people. It helps them to put death and loss in perspective and recognise the value of human life as well as other life forms. It prepares them to be able to show sympathy should it happen to someone else too.
An open-hearted talk on their level or perhaps a book from the library may help to bring the message accross to the younger child.

Reply to Caro
Posted by: Honestly Saying | 2011/08/02

I speak from experience when I say if your children were particulary close to your husbands Grandmathat I believe they should be allowed to attend the funeral so they can understand what is happening, and come to terms with the departure of their the one. I was 7 when my granny (to whom I was very very close) passed away. My mother wanted to protect me, and did not allow me to attend the funeral giving me a simple explanation that Granny had gone to live with Jesus.

Throught my entire life (and I am in my 50''s), I have struggled with not having closure.

My advice would be to sit them down to explain what has happened, and then allow them the opporunity to express if they would like to attend the funeral.

Reply to Honestly Saying
Posted by: Anon | 2011/08/02

I think that death. mourning and sadness is part of life and, I cant see, if the proceedings have been properly explained, why it would be bad for your child to go. As much as we would like to, we cannot always shield our children from life''s bad side.

Reply to Anon
Posted by: qwerty | 2011/08/02

I was about 8 or 9 years when my grandparents (father''s side) passed away within a few months of each other, and I attended both funerals. My parents explained everything to me, and I knew what was happening and why. I think the unknown is more alarming to children than anything, so if they already know their great grandma died, maybe you can explain what happens next and ask them if they''d like to come?

Reply to qwerty
Posted by: cybershrink | 2011/08/02

Usually, I'd say yes. It depends in part on how well them kids knew the deceased - if they knew them well, even though the funeral may be distressing, it helps them to realize what is happening, when accompanied by a warmly sympathetic chat with their parents.
Sadness doesn't harm children, when it is appropriately aroused by sad events. Life is often sad, and we do them no service by pretending otherwise, and indeed run the risk of making it harder for them to handle the first really sad events that occur to them when we're not around to sanitize these.
Use the opportunity to explain things to them, and maybe begin by not assuming what they might know about death. They'll certainly know something - do you know how many deaths they will have witnessed on TV and in videogames already ? So ask them what they know and think about death. They will probably have noticed someting about what has happened to grandma from conversations overheard, and changes in the behaviour of their mom and dad.
Explanations should attend to what they want to know, rather than what you think they have to know ; and should be age appropriate - the 4 year-old will probably have simpler concerns than the 8 year-old.
You can explain what a funeral is, as an opportunity to fondly remember the person who is no longer with us, and maybe ask whether they would like to go or not. You woudn't, of course, force a reluctant child to attend, but generally they would be curious enough to want to go.
Talking about death, like talking about sex, shouldn't be a one-time only special offer, but an ongoing conversation, updated and revised as their experiences and concerns develop.
They may as well know that even adults get sad and weep, and that this is all right.

Reply to cybershrink

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