When someone you love dies, it has an impact on the whole family. If you have children, it adds an additional level of pain to the loss, because you have to explain it to your kids and help them to deal with their grief while you’re coping with yours. A question that often arises is that of children and funerals: should you bring your kids to the funeral?
Often, people worry about kids being traumatized by the experience of seeing a loved one in a casket or being present while the death is discussed. Is this a valid concern? The answer to this question is subjective and varies among individual children.
- Give your children the opportunity to attend- or not. Don’t force them either way or project your feelings about what they will feel about it. Some children will want to be there, but won’t want to see the person in the casket, and this should be respected. Other children might feel overwhelmed by the idea of attending any part of the funeral, and if this is the case, give the freedom to decline, and make other arrangements for their care.
- Talk to your children about the death. It’s important to be straightforward with children about what has happened, avoiding euphemisms like “sleeping” or “going on a trip” in favor of just explaining that the person has died and is not coming back. Explain that when people die, their bodies stop working and cannot be fixed. People often try to soften the language of death when speaking to children, but you may be surprised at how much your child is able to understand.
- Tell your children enough about what happens at funerals to allow them to make an informed decision. If there’s a part of the service in which they can be involved, let them know that. Explain about the viewing, the burial, who will be there, and what goes on during the funeral service itself, so that they’ll have enough information to decide whether they want to participate
- As a Catholic, there are specific things you can talk to your kids about regarding death and funerals. For one thing, you can talk about how people have souls, and that your loved one’s soul is no longer in his or her body. You can explain to the children that the funeral mass is an important Catholic rite, and how being there for other people who are grieving is important. As a community, we come together in times of grief and loss; as members of the community, children should be allowed the opportunity to find a way to support and be supported.
- Don’t assume you know how it will go if you bring your child. Of course, you know your children and can make an educated guess about their behavior and reactions at a funeral. That being said, their attendance may be important in myriad ways. Being allowed to be present for the funeral of a close family member, for instance, can bring a child some closure. By the same token, the presence of children at a funeral is often uplifting, providing a feeling of hope to the community that has suffered a loss.
The Catholic Cemeteries of the Diocese of San Jose is proud to be a part of the Catholic Community in San Jose, California. Committed to providing a sacred place where families can remember loved ones in a peaceful and hope-filled setting, we welcome you and your family to visit our properties and experience the peace of these prayerful places. If you have questions, we’re happy to answer them. We have three locations: Calvary Catholic Cemetery in San Jose, Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Los Altos, and St. John the Baptist Cemetery in Milpitas. If you’d like to know more about our properties, or you need to know where to send flowers, you can contact us through our website, or call Calvary at 833-428-0379, Gate of Heaven at 833-304-0763, or St. John the Baptist at 833-428-0379.