Being at a funeral can be difficult for kids. They may not understand why someone they loved has died, and other kids may be in the same situation. A funeral may also be a time of sadness and mourning, so some children may not be ready to deal with those emotions. They must experience a funeral to be appropriately equipped to grieve like adults.
Here are some helpful tips for bringing kids to a funeral.
What Should Kids Wear to a Funeral?
As an adult, we generally wear black to a funeral. However, feel free to dress your children in any muted, solid colors appropriate for the solemn occasion. Babies and toddlers won’t be expected to be in anything special, but children over the age of three should be dressed comfortably and respectable.
Of course, if you have it, kids can be dressed in shades of black for a funeral. While a suit is usually reserved for special occasions, a funeral is an excellent opportunity for a child to wear a suit or a dress to honor their loved ones.
You want your child to be comfortable as this could be a very emotional experience for them. It’s also a good idea to pack an extra change of clothes in a small bag.
Talking to Kids About a Funeral
This may be your child’s first experience with death. Kids may not understand why someone dies, so it’s essential to be patient and explain why someone dies, how the body works, and what happens at a funeral. Warn them ahead of time that the body of the loved one will be inside the box, and while it looks like they’re asleep, it’s crucial we don’t try to wake them.
Be as truthful as possible when talking to kids about a funeral so that you’re helping to develop their emotions around death.
Allow Kids to Ask Questions About the Funeral
Kids are curious by nature, and they may have many questions about a funeral and death in general. It’s best to be patient, allow the questions, and answer them as truthfully as possible. This is an excellent time to remind them of any religious beliefs around death and show them pictures or videos of what they might expect during the service.
How Long is a Funeral?
Funeral durations vary greatly depending on the type of service, religious beliefs, and drive-time. They can range from anywhere from 1 hour to most of the day. Plan and get as much information as possible when deciding whether to bring your kids to a funeral. Kids are not always known for patience, and a funeral will require it.
In some cases, the timing of the service may be necessary for the mourning process, so it’s a good idea to check with the attending pastor or funeral home ahead of time.
Kids Crying at a Funeral
Crying is a normal part of grieving, and it’s normal for children to cry at a funeral. While some may feel embarrassed, it is essential to let them call.
Do not try to stifle or hold back their tears. Instead, acknowledge that they’re sad and let them cry until they’re ready to be comforted. If a funeral is incredibly stressful for your child, you can give them a hug or a soft tissue to cry on.
How to Get Through a Funeral
It’s normal for kids to feel overwhelmed and sad after losing a loved one. Grieving is a process that takes time, and it’s normal to feel sad, empty, and lost for a while.
Keep in mind that this too shall pass. As with adults, grieving for children doesn’t just happen overnight; it happens over a few months or years. Be patient with your kids and know that the variety of emotions they’re feeling is entirely normal.
Kids’ Emotions During a Funeral
Kids, like adults, go through many different emotions while at a funeral. They may feel sadness, frustration, anger, confusion, or fear.
It’s normal for kids to feel these emotions at a funeral, but it’s important to remember that kids don’t know why someone is sad or dead. They may not understand that the person who died is no longer alive. Instead, they may think the person is just sick or asleep.
It’s important to show them the same things that you let adults know: they’re sad, and the person who died was special to them. You can also point out that the person who died is now in a better place, watching over them.
Caring for kids after a loss can be challenging, but there are ways to make the experience more accessible. Knowing what to wear and how to talk to them about a funeral is the first step to helping your kids cope with this challenging situation.
Remember, a funeral is a time to remember and celebrate a person’s life who has died. Kids need to be seen in mourning, but it is also essential to respect the family and friends attending the service.