Deciding whether to take children to a funeral can be difficult, and there is no right or wrong decision as to whether they should attend.
If you are struggling to make this decision, you are not alone. Many people worry that a funeral may cause a child great sadness or distress, or that they may disrupt the service, and it is normal to have concerns.
Ask them what they want to do
Providing the child is old enough to know what is going on, you should explain the purpose of a funeral and what usually happens at one, then ask what they would like to do.
You should explain simply and honestly to ensure they understand as best as possible, so they have an idea of what they can expect if they do choose to go.
Consider the age of the child
If you have a young child that is unable to make that decision for themselves, you may be concerned that they may be noisy or disruptive. Families often decide not to take children under the age of three to funerals because of this but it is ultimately your choice.
Ask for someone to help
You could leave the child with someone they know and trust whilst you are at the ceremony, but have them at the reception, wake, or gathering that takes place afterward, where you do not need to worry about them making noise and it is usually a little less tense.
If you do decide to bring children to a funeral, it might be a good idea to plan for someone who is happy to do so to take the child out of the funeral and accompany them if they do become distressed or disruptive, or if you are struggling with your own grief and need support.
You could even bring a book or quiet toy to help keep them distracted and entertained during what may be a long ceremony.
Going to a funeral at a young age can help children to realise it is not just a sad event or something to be scared of going to in the future.
A chance to say goodbye
It can also provide them with the opportunity to say goodbye and come to terms with what has happened. They may even want to contribute in some way, whether that be by reading a poem or prayer or helping with choosing the music.
If a child does not want to go or you feel they shouldn’t attend, then you could arrange for them to say goodbye in their own way or do something special to remember the person that has passed away.
Children can also bring some light relief to others on what is typically a sad day. They are a reminder of new life and hope for the future and often bring joy.
If you are unsure what would be best for you and your children, you can seek advice from your funeral director.
Craven Funeral Directors is an experienced family-run business that has been delivering funeral services since the early 1920s. If you need advice or to arrange a funeral, please get in touch with a member of our team on 01512 283900.
If you are struggling to help a bereaved child or have any concerns, there is support available. Marie Curie has curated a list of books for and about grieving children which can help a child to understand death and realise they are not alone. Child Bereavement UK supports children and young people who are facing bereavement. For confidential support, information, and guidance, speak to a Child Bereavement UK professional by calling their helpline on 0800 02 888 40.