Should a Child Attend a Funeral?

By: Shama Rhoden
Friday, March 11, 2016

A funeral is an essential rite that marks life’s final passage. The service, however, isn’t important for the deceased, but rather for those left behind, and this includes children. Funerals help with mourning and allow the grieving process to begin, and being allowed to say a final goodbye is an important part of accepting that your loved one is gone; again, this applies to children as well as adults.

Choosing whether to have a child attend a funeral is a difficult decision—and one you shouldn’t make lightly—but there is no right or wrong answer. Every child is different, every family is unique, and no two situations are alike, so you must consider what's right for your child, your family, and the situation when making this decision. 

Children Attending Funerals: To Go or Not To Go

Most children don’t regret attending a funeral; instead, there are many more children out there who are hurt or angry because they weren’t allowed to go to one. Moreover, adults who weren’t allowed to attend an important funeral as a child sometimes find that it affected their ability to mourn properly.

On the one hand, a child at a funeral may be scared or confused, but on the other hand, the funeral gives children a valuable opportunity to see how much the deceased meant to other people. Many parenting and bereavement experts agree that children of any age can attend a funeral, so long as they want to. The point to take away from this is the importance of allowing the child to decide. As a parent, you should explain what the funeral is all about by telling your child:

  • What the funeral is for and why it’s an important rite
  • Who will be attending the funeral and whose life will be celebrated
  • When and where it will happen

Once the child has all the information necessary to make a decision, you should allow him to choose for himself—without pressuring him either way—whether or not he would like to attend. Death can be just as difficult for children as it can for adults, especially because kids don’t necessarily fully understand what death means. You can make this time easier for them by respecting their opinions, giving them a say in what happens, and allowing them to choose how to participate in the grieving process. 

Preparing a Child for a Funeral

For a child who decides to attend a funeral, you must help prepare him for what will happen. The first and most important element is explaining exactly what death is and what it means.

For younger children especially, you can help them understand this by explaining that death means the body stops working, that you no longer need to eat, breathe, or sleep, and that you no longer feel pain or happiness. It’s also important to avoid euphemisms because children have been known to interpret things literally.

You can also prepare your child by explaining what will happen at the funeral service, and that it’s a time to say goodbye, celebrate and honor the dead, share memories and stories, and provide support and be comforted. Since children may not be accustomed to seeing adults crying and sharing emotions so openly, you can also prepare them by telling them about the different behaviors they may witness.

As long as your child has been properly informed and prepared, there is no reason he can't be allowed to mourn with everyone else at the funeral if he so chooses. However, if your child decides against attending the funeral, there are other ways he can participate, such as attending the memorial service or celebration of life, being part of the interment or ash scattering, or by taking part in a private service with your immediate family.


Leave a comment
Please enter the numbers and letters you see in the image. Note that the case of the letters entered matters.


Please wait

Previous Posts

Some Tips for Coping with Grief During the Holiday Season

We all know that coping with grief and loss during the holidays can be extremely difficult for most families.  It is even extremely more difficult when the loss is sudden or recent.  It c...

When Choosing a Funeral Home

There are many things to consider when choosing a funeral home to meet your specific needs. Upon the passing of a loved one, most family members have difficulty planning the funeral arrangements of...

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Funeral Home for Cremation Services

Direct or Simple Cremation Service When looking for a funeral home and cremation service, there are various types of service options or alternatives. Some families are only familiar with direct cr...

Top Funeral Personalization Options to Incorporate Into the Service

It’s becoming increasingly common for people to customize traditional funeral services, and there are many fun and memorable ways that you can honor your deceased loved one in a personalized way. I...

Why are Flowers the Common Choice to Send for Funerals?

Archeologists have found evidence of flowers arranged around many ancient burial sites,  meaning that the practice of using flowers to commemorate the dead and comfort the grieving  can...

Tips for Letting Go Of a Loved One While Keeping Them Close To Your Heart

The loss of a loved one is a traumatic event in anyone's life. After it has happened, many people feel as though their life will never return to normal and find it very difficult to carry on. Some ...

Is It Important to Have a Public Viewing Before the Funeral?

Every culture and religion has its own views on death and burial rituals. In Islam, for instance, the body must be buried as soon as possible, making it difficult or impossible to hold a public vie...

What to Say to Someone Who Has Experienced the Loss of a Loved One

It can be difficult to find the words to say when a person in your life has experienced the loss of someone very important in their life. We want to offer help, let them know we are there for them...

The Importance of Honoring Your Loved One's Funeral Wishes

Dealing with a loss is hard for anyone. For many, a funeral can be seen as a final goodbye or as a celebration of life. In some cases, however, the deceased may have left specific instructions rega...

Coping with Loss During the Holidays

For each of us, at different times in our lives, the loss of a loved one will affect us differently. Yet, it is commonly one of the hardest things we will go through, with grief and change being a...