Deciding whether your child should attend a funeral is ultimately up to you. If you decide to have your child attend a funeral, make sure to prepare them. Involving family members of all ages in funeral planning gives them a chance to grieve as well as say goodbye to their loved one which is often a beloved grandparent.
If you decide to have your child attend a funeral, here are some ways to prepare your child:
- Tell your child what they can expect. It is important to explain to them what a Jewish funeral is all about. This can include information on why we hold funerals, how long they are, who attends and what events take place at them.
- Assign a trusted loved one. Ask a trusted family friend or family member to be the child’s buddy for the funeral. This can help the child feel secure and enable them to ask questions.
- Involve your child in the service. They could write a poem to be read or draw a picture to be placed in the casket. If the child is old enough, they may want to say a few words at the service.
- Prepare them for what they could see. You could show them photos online of the funeral home and describe what casket looks like.
- Help them understand it’s an emotional event. They may see both children and grownups crying and may feel like crying themselves, and this is perfectly okay. Let them know it’s a good thing to express emotions, even sad ones, and sometimes being sad and talking about it can help you feel better.
- It’s okay if they choose not to attend. Some children can feel strongly about not attending a funeral. Don’t force them, but do ask them if there is anything they would like to do on their own to say goodbye to the deceased.
Enabling a child to say goodbye to a loved one who has died, is a wonderful way to help them grieve and move on.