Funerals and other memorials
From our conversations with bereaved children and young people, we know that they value the chance to choose. We have spoken to many children who are really pleased that they did manage to attend the funeral and we have spoken to many others who did not go and later deeply regretted it. In order to make a sensible choice about going or not, they need to know what is involved.
Probably the biggest factor that will affect a younger child’s attendance at a funeral is if they feel their presence is welcome there. If there is going to be tension (as opposed to sadness) they will pick this up and feel more distressed by the atmosphere than by what is happening. Many children understand and appreciate sharing in other people's sadness- after all it is what they are feeling too. It's your family. You know them best.
If it will not be possible or appropriate for your children to attend the funeral, for whatever reason, there are other positive ways in which they can be involved. (please click here for information on alternative goodbyes). Or if the funeral happened a while ago and your children have regrets that they did not attend, it is never too late to have a memorial or other ceremony that includes them saying 'goodbye'.
Call the Helpline (08452 03 04 05) if you would like to talk about your children attending a funeral or viewing the body.
Why it can help to see the body and attend the funeral
Families will have different cultural and religious beliefs about seeing the person who has died and attending the funeral, but it can help a child to:
- begin to say goodbye
- begin to accept the reality and finality of the death
- begin to understand what has happened
- be less scared
- feel part of what is happening
- share with others an important last memory about the person who died
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