Many factors must be considered when determining if your child is ready to attend a funeral or burial.
Losing a loved one can significantly impact you and your family, from the youngest to the eldest member. Besides the anguish and pain of dealing with the loss, there may be stress associated with handling the events that follow the initial news. First, it needs to be communicated to the family that the death occurred. Next, adults may face a difficult decision about whether or not children should attend the funeral and participate in the memorial services.
There is no set funeral rule or direction according to Jewish traditions. As a parent, you inevitably want to protect your children from sadness. So, this may bring you to the dilemma of whether or not you should have your children be a part of saying a final goodbye. You are not alone, and this can guide you through making the funeral attendance decision that is right for you and your family members.
Many factors must be considered when determining if your child is ready to attend a funeral or burial. Among these include age, maturity, and the ability to understand the concept of loss. First and foremost, remember that as much as you can influence your child’s decision, it ultimately comes down to them. Suppose they feel that participating in the memorial rituals will provide them with closure. In that case, all you can do from there is support and prepare them for the event. Your child may want to learn about the funeral process or ask questions that may be difficult for you to answer. Curiosity is natural, and your only job is to make them feel safe and comfortable in their decision.
Some children may automatically want to go to the funeral or burial to celebrate the life of a loved one or gain a sense of closure. In contrast, others may have some hesitations or feel that they are not emotionally ready. Never force your child to attend a memorial service if they are not comfortable with it. While this is a rule of thumb, it is still appropriate for you to ask the child questions to understand their fears and hesitations. Ask your child what they are afraid of, how they think they might feel at the service, or if they have any procedural questions to help give them an understanding of traditions surrounding death.
If your child chooses to attend, prepare them for what will happen. By describing the funeral process step-by-step and going over some of the things they may see or feel, their anxieties will be subsided. Remind your child that however they handle grief is more than okay; whether they cry tears of sadness or prefer to reflect on happier times, their response is heard and respected. Make sure to keep an extra eye on your child during the service and make arrangements with a trusted adult so a child can leave early if they wish.
All children are different, so there is no specific age where going to funerals is standard. Rather than focusing so much on age, realize the maturity of your child and use this as a barometer to make a decision. There is no wrong answer for bringing your children to a funeral. If you make sure to respect their wishes, answer their questions, and properly educate them for the event, you have done your part in making them feel validated and included in the service.
At Star of David Memorial Chapels in Long Island, New York, our funeral directors can provide additional guidance about burials, funeral, and cremation services. Please get in touch with us at 631-454-9600.