A question often asked of us while planning a funeral is what the family should do with their children — Do children normally come to funerals? How young is too young? Is your facility child-friendly? Would it be best to simply have them stay home?
Planning a funeral in the midst of losing a loved one is a very stressful time, and having to wear the parent hat through it all adds a whole new realm of difficult decisions to face. We have heard from parents who are concerned about the effect it may have on their children, and many are afraid to expose them to such a difficult reality. Understandably, it is a parent’s natural instinct to protect their children, and to steer them clear of anything that may harm them. But, if you are going through a hard time dealing with the loss of your loved one, then you can imagine that your children are, as well.
We believe the best way to protect our children is to bring them. Be with them as they experience it, help guide them through any tough emotions they may have, answer their questions as truthfully as you can. They can benefit from the experience of funeral services as much as you can. This is the best way to teach them to handle grief, and the reality of loss. It is far better for them to have their first experiences when they can lean on you, rather than their first experience be when they are planning your own funeral never having faced loss before.
Moreover, it is important for children to have closure, too. Even though they may not have had many years with your loved one as you did, they still had their own relationship with them. They should be allowed to say goodbye too, even if they are still too young to fully understand its significance. They will understand it when they grow up, and they will be thankful for it.
The subject of death as a whole is largely avoided in our society. It is only touched upon out of necessity and swept back under the rug as quickly as possible. We understand why — we see many people, many families, going through one of the hardest moments in their lives. We have been through it ourselves. We know how uncomfortable this topic is at the best of times, and how painful at the worst. We understand the instinct to block it all from our children’s view, shelter them until the storm has passed. We all want better for our kids than that.
The best thing we can do as a society is talk about death together, and those conversations absolutely should include our children. What better way to ease our collective discomfort than to face it as a community, to educate ourselves, and to foster better support networks? They are far more resilient than we often give them credit for, and they are going to look to you to learn how to handle their grief. So, letting them see you going through this difficult time is the best way to help them go through it.
Our answer when we are asked those questions is always yes. Bring your children, tell your family to bring their children, and we will welcome them as we would welcome anyone. And, maybe helping and guiding them will also help you, and you may end up surprised by how much comfort you can find for yourself by including them.