What are your thoughts on children attending funerals?

August 9, 2018   //   No Comments

In this month’s blog, SAIF’s Paul Allcock explores the issue of how to involve children in a funeral.

I am frequently asked if a child should be allowed to see the deceased in the chapel of rest or attend the funeral. In my personal opinion, children, along with any other family member should be involved as much as possible in what is happening around them, regardless of their age.  If they are too young to fully understand, then very often the innocence of a child can be a great comfort to others. If they are in their formative years, then to deny a child the opportunity to share in the grief of their own family can have disastrous results. In effect, you are teaching them that when they have a loss of their own, they should not share it. Imagine how insular a child could become if you don’t share the family grief with them.

There is a natural tendency to protect children from the things which we as adults have difficulty in confronting. But a child who has not had so many influences from society in general, is likely to have a much more practical view of what has happened than the adults around them.  Most children are told that when someone dies, they go to Heaven. Unlike many adults, who would question this in their own mind, children tend to believe what they are told. Subsequently they tend to deal with the reality of the situation in a very sensible and in their eyes, realistic way. If you take into account what I have stated above, then in my opinion there is no reason for denying a child the opportunity to attend a funeral if it is something that they wish to do.

Many children may prefer to visit a friend than go to a funeral. This is fine provided the options are discussed with them and they are given a free choice. I would never tell a parent how they should treat their own child. But I would always advise them to talk to their child clearly about what has happened and how they can be involved if they wish to be. The imagination, especially that of a child, is far worse than the reality.

This blog is based purely on my own experiences, and I am always interested to hear others views on any subject I raise.

Paul Allcock