Our expert says:
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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