Helping children thru the funeral is essential.
The funeral ritual is important for children as well as adults. We parents or guardians have the natural tendency to protect children from any pain. However we must remember that even though a funeral is painful – there are important “ processes of mourning “ that take place for children as well as adults.
-It helps to make real for them that someone has actually died.
This is important. My friend, a funeral director’s wife, tells of a time when a child had been to the visitation and funeral of her grandfather. Within a year she was back for another funeral. She came in to the funeral home looking for grandpa. She thought that is where he lived now!
-It provides an opportunity for others to minister to them. Our pastor dropped by after my husband died. It meant so much to my daughter, then 7.
-They are participating with the group in the rituals of remembering and honoring the deceased.
Encourage children to come to the visitation and funeral, but don’t make them go if they absolutely don’t want to attend. In our case I knew my husband’s visitation was going to be very long. I brought in my 7-year-old daughter for her own private visitation, and then sent her home with my mother. That way she could go to this important event, but still get a break. She actually went home and played with the neighbor girl, which was a good way for her to burn off stress. The next day we both went to the funeral and cemetery.
Help your child know what to expect at a funeral. When they know what’s going to happen they are less apprehensive and afraid. Anticipate they will still be uncomfortable. Depending on their age, they may be especially clingy. Try to touch and hug them as much as possible to convey to them a sense of security.
Make them aware that there will be people at the funeral who are crying, laughing and showing all sorts of different emotions. All off which are okay. Just like how they feel is okay.
If the child is a close relative, they might like to make something or give an item to put inside the casket. I made teardrop bottles from the scripture Psalm 56:8 – one for each of us and one for my daughter to put in her dad’s casket.
Try to be attentive to the child’s needs; physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Oftentimes providing support and comfort is not difficult as far as just showing them love and support. The hard part is that you will be grieving too. Allow yourself to grieve in front of and with them.
As the grieving parent, you don’t have to do this alone. Engage the help of family members to be of assistance with the children.
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