Healthy Kids    

Too young to attend a funeral?

How to prepare your child for what to expect after the death of a loved one

What about the funeral – should your child attend? Experts agree that if possible, it’s important for a child to be included in the wake, funeral or any other religious or cultural rituals your family may practice.

Here are some things to consider. Do you think your child will understand it? Age may make a difference, but it also depends on the situation. Will they be able to sit through the service? Will the funeral give them nightmares? Will others be so distraught that your child may be upset by it?


If your child does attend, prepare them for what to expect. Explain that people will be crying because they are sad. If your child needs to leave, take them outside without making them feel embarrassed or ashamed. Emotions can run high for everyone. For an older child, attending the funeral may be a good way for them to better accept the reality of the death while surrounded by the love of family and friends. You know your child best, so don’t be afraid to trust your instincts.


To guide my daughter, I followed not just my instincts but my spiritual beliefs as well. We relied on our faith and talked about God and heaven. We talked about grandma’s spirit always being with us. She understood that grandma was gone, and that she wouldn’t be at my daughter’s birthday party that year. To my surprise my daughter pointed out seeing her living in a cloud. I must admit, even I found that image comforting.


Jean Campbell Galli is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mom living in Orange County.

From It's not uncommon for a child's first experience with death to involve a family pet.  This is often a valuable learning experience...If you'd like to be eligible to receive a resource on teaching children about this sensitive topic, click here.