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Attending Funerals with Kids

What is the appropriate age to bring to a showing and/or funeral? This is a tough question. I have been down this path on a few occasions. I believe a child falls into one of three categories:

  1. They are too young to understand
  2. They are old enough to understand but have never been to a showing or funeral
  3. They fall between the two groups mention above

Too young to understand ...

For most parents it is obvious to know when a child is too young to understand. Typically, if your child is less than 7 or 8 years old, they may fall into this category. Ultimately as a parent, you know your child best so do not rely on any specific age to be your guide. If you are talking to your child about a recent passing and they seem to glaze over the topic and would rather play with their toys, you may consider them too young to understand.

It is not uncommon to leave your child(ren) with a sitter during the showing and funeral. Ultimately, you want to ensure you show respect to the recently departed and immediate family. If your child is running around the funeral home knocking over flowers and planters, laughing and playing, this might be a problem.

Old enough to understand ...

When a child becomes an adolescent and you, along with your child, feel they fully grasp the situation, they may be ready for their first showing and funeral. What age does this occur? Unfortunately, there is not a magic age. Talk with your child and look for clues and signs they fully understand.

This may be your childs first showing and funeral so it is important talk with them before, during and after the events. Let them express their feelings and help them through the grieving process.

Fall between ...

What is the age group? This is between you and your child. Talk to your child and try to gauge their comprehension of the events. If you feel they are not ready to attend, do not force the situation. Your child may understand death in theory but may not appreciate nor respect the overall situation and impact to others.

It is very important to respect the grieving family and friends. You may be part of the immediate family with kids which make the decision to bring children all the more difficult. If you find yourself in this situation, consult a close friend. In the end, do what you feel is right. You are closest to the situation and understand your child the best.

Children look to their parent for guidance and advise on may topics throughout life. It is okay to let them know you are upset. Communicate with them to ensure they understand your feelings. Not communicating leaves them to their imaginations which may not be a good thing.


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