Children – Should children attend a funeral?

We all grieve in our own way. Though we will all experience the various stages of grief, our personal experience is unique, and a funeral is an important part of the grieving process that aids understanding, drawing a line that defines a loss and so can be a starting point in acceptance.

Children grieve, and that grief can be just as soul defining as it is for an adult.

The level of comprehension however depends on cognitive and emotional maturity.

To some, a viewing or funeral may be perceived as a game where the loved one inexplicably doesn’t move while another who has already experienced behavioural issues, might be wracked by the guilt of disobeying the guidance of a loved one, such as a father, and the realisation that there will never be an opportunity of forgiveness.

Age, maturity, education, beliefs (if formed), relationships, and life experience, therefore, all have an impact.

A child, like many adults will have a very limited ability to understand, to comprehend, and express their emotions, memories, and the pain of loss, and so may ‘act out’ grief in a variety of behaviours.

Some will understand that death is a part of the life cycle, but others may be traumatised by the realisation that a loved one is in a shiny big box with a sealed lid or lays still in the open coffin without a response.

In her article published on 29th January 2018, entitled How To Include Young Children In Funerals; Rosalie Kuyvenhoven wrote that educational psychologist John Holland, who has researched the impact of grief and funerals on children, concluded that a funeral is a family rite of passage and important in the grieving process. John Holland was quoted:

“Don’t force them, but it’s important for children to feel involved. The golden rule is to explain what it’s about, in terms they can understand – and give them the choice.”


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