Should children come to funerals?

Taking a child to a funeral can be a helpful way to help them understand grief.

Should children go to funerals?

The most important thing to consider is – what does the child want?  Going to a funeral can help children understand the finality of death. Saying goodbye with family and friends may help them process their grief

There are some things you can do before the funeral to help prepare your child. By letting them know what to expect, it can help ease any anxiety they may feel.

How to prepare children for a funeral

  • Explain what the funeral is for and what will happen. 
  • Let them know that there are no set feelings they should have during the ceremony.
  • Don’t avoid talking about the funeral around your child. It may accidentally make them feel excluded.
  • Include them in planning the funeral. If they’d like to, find ways in which they can take part in the service. This can help them say goodbye. 
  • They may want to write something to be read out during the ceremony, put something in the coffin, or they may want to say something. However, it’s very important they do not feel any pressure to do this.
  • Let them know that they can change their mind, even at the last minute.
  • You may want to ask someone you both trust to help during the ceremony. They can explain to them what is happening, and take them out if they want to leave.

If your child doesn’t want to go to a funeral

If your child has said they don’t want to attend the ceremony, reassure them that this is okay. They are not being disrespectful and they won’t get in trouble.

You could try to find other ways to involve them:

  • Share photographs of the ceremony
  • Talk about what happened at the service 
  • Write a letter to the person who has died
  • Make a memory box. Gather letters, badges, photographs and keepsakes from their loved one. They can open this and remember them when they need to
  • Talk about some of the good times you all shared together
  • Visit the grave when they’re ready to

Find resources

Visit Hope Again, our website for children and young people and get resources for children struggling with grief.