The death of a loved one is a painful, and often overwhelming, experience at any age. Amidst coping with your own grief, you may be faced with talking to your child about death and dying, and might find that you struggle with the question, "Should my child attend the funeral?"
As a parent or caregiver, you may worry that your child is too young to care about, or understand, what happens during a funeral, or why we have them. You may wonder if your child will remember your loved one. Perhaps you believe that funerals are only intended for adults, and are too sad or traumatizing for children. Or, like many, you simply don’t want your child to see you cry.
But it is important to understand that your child will feel the death of a loved one intensely, and that he or she may feel forgotten if left out of such an important family event. Your child may feel resentful for many years if he or she didn’t get to say goodbye.
Exclusion from the memorialization process may lead your child to create fear-based fantasies far scarier than what actually takes place. He or she will also miss out on receiving the comfort and support that connects friends and family during a funeral.
So the answer is YES, it is appropriate for youth to attend a funeral.
Saying goodbye to a loved one who died is never easy, but experts agree that children should be given the choice to attend the funeral, and participate in the memorialization process, in ways that feel meaningful and important to them.
The information in the Youth & Funerals section of this website is available to read in an e-book format.