Everyone will experience another person’s death at one point or another in their life. Usually, this won’t happen until someone is a bit older, has gained some knowledge about life and death, and can find ways to cope on their own. But sometimes, a death will happen that will have an impact on the life of a child.
If someone that you and your child knows has recently died, here are three tips for preparing your child to attend a funeral.
Explain Why We Have Funerals
For many young children, the concept of death is something that’s very foreign and not easy to grasp. Because of this, your child will likely need for you to explain what a funeral is and why we have them
When speaking about this to your child, the American Cancer Society recommends that you convey to your child that a funeral is where you get to say goodbye to the person who’s died. As part of this, you might want to encourage your child to come up with a way that they can say goodbye at the funeral. This could include drawing a picture, singing a song, or writing a letter. You can also help your child to celebrate and remember the life of the person who’s died by reflecting on times they spent together and sharing memories you cherish of that person.
Go Over The Event With Your Child
Many children find the idea of death or dying to be scary. In addition to this, anything that’s unknown to your child can also be very scary. Because of this, funerals can be a very fearful experience for your child.
To calm some of these fears, the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide shares that you should sit down with your child prior to the funeral and explain what’s going to happen at the event. By sharing what they’ll see, hear, and experience at the funeral, they may feel less scared about going to this event.
Validate Their Feelings
Funerals can be a very draining experience, even for children that may not have a full understanding of what’s going on. So to help your child be more comfortable and not feel any shame at the funeral, FuneralBasics.org recommends that you tell your child that anything they’re feeling on that day is okay and completely normal. You may also want to share with them that they’ll likely see people crying at the funeral as well as some people laughing as they share funny memories.
If your child will be attending a funeral for the first time, consider using the tips mentioned above to prepare them for this experience.