Funerals are difficult experiences for most people, particularly children. During the service, it can be challenging for children to follow etiquette, which can sometimes lead to disruptions for others. If you are planning to take your child to a funeral, here are some tips for preparing him or her for the experience.
Talk to Your Child About Death
In the days leading up to the funeral, it is important that you talk to your child about death. By doing this, you are helping your child to set the expectations for what he or she will witness during the service.
Knowing what to say can be difficult. Many parents struggle to find the right words to convey what death is. One thing to remember is that it is important to be honest with your child. For instance, instead of telling your child that the deceased is asleep, explain to him or her that the deceased's body stopped working.
You also need to let your child know that death is part of the life cycle and it is fine to be upset or cry. You can even express to your child how the loss has impacted you. Children are intelligent and understanding and can process more than you might think.
Visit the Funeral Home
If possible, take your child to view the deceased before the funeral at the funeral home. If your family is holding a wake for visitors prior to the service, it is a good time for your child to see the deceased and his or her casket. Explain beforehand that the deceased will look different.
Your child also has an opportunity to observe the chapel where the service is held. If the funeral is being held at a church, take your child to the church before the service so that he or she is familiar with the setting. You can take the added step of showing your child where to find the bathroom in case he or she needs it during the service.
Discuss the Rituals
Before the service, talk to your child about what he or she can expect to see during the actual service. If there are special rituals that occur during the service, explain them. If your child knows what to expect, he or she is less likely to react negatively when certain events occur.
Be sure to answer any additional questions that the child might have before the service. Also let him or her know that you can further discuss what occurred after the service to avoid questions during the service.