When a child falls and scuffs a knee, we kiss the boo-boo. A boo-boo kiss doesn’t really make the injury “all better” but, it is an important first step. It acknowledges the injury. The child is comforted that an adult is in charge. They know they are not alone. The hurt knee might need stitches, or it might just need some soap and water and a super hero bandage. Either way, the boo-boo kiss is the first step to things falling into order.
A funeral is like a boo-boo kiss. Everyone needs to start somewhere when someone in the family dies. The funeral, regardless of its form, acknowledges that life has changed for everyone. Gathering together provides an opportunity to give and receive comfort. It provides an opportunity to share memories. The child can see that he is not alone in his feelings of sadness. The funeral is for all family, friends, and, yes, the kids.
Kenneth J Doku Ph.D., author of Good Mourning psychocologytoday.com, suggests that children be asked if they wish to attend the funeral. The child chooses. This means an adult should be able to tell the child what she can expect so the choice is an informed one.
When children are a part of the family experiencing loss, they should be considered from the very beginning of funeral preparations. Those family members making arrangements, should ask the funeral director about how children will be accommodated. Ask about a family lounge where kids may take a break. Ask if you can bring snacks for the younger ones.
The adults in charge should be sure they have all the information needed so they can properly prepare the children in the family. A funeral isn’t easy, it does not make the loss less acute, and nothing can make it “all better.” A funeral is an important first step to a healthy adjustment to loss. Kids should be included to the extent they wish to be.