8 Ways to Help Families Include Children in Services
Parents often wonder if their children should attend services after the death of a loved one. If they choose to, we've provided 8 ways you can suggest to families to include them.
Should children attend funerals?
Parents and caregivers often turn to you to decide if it is appropriate to include their children in the services following the death of a loved one. Some family members may think that funeral services are only meant for adults, or that attending the services may be very sad or upsetting for a child. Still, others may think it is necessary for children to attend, regardless of their age or desire to participate.
Being included in the services, if they choose to do so, can give children an opportunity to feel comforted and supported by their family and friends. This can also help children to feel included and connected at a time it matters most. Giving children the ability to participate in a way that feels comfortable for them can help to promote feelings of empowerment and resilience through the grieving process.
3 Ways to Support Children During The Service
There are many different ways children can be included in the services, through attendance, participation, and other age-appropriate activities designed to help memorialize their loved one. As you make suggestions to the family, the most important thing is to give children options about how they would like to be involved. Supporting children through this choice can empower them to find a way to participate that feels most meaningful for them. It is equally important to encourage the family to let the child know that they can change their decision about their involvement at any point and time.
There are three helpful steps families can take to support a child and to help him or her to navigate through the services:
Before the services begin, encourage families to talk with children about what they can expect to see and hear. It can be very helpful to offer a time for the children to walk through the location where services will be held beforehand if this can be arranged.
8 Ways to Include Children in the Service
There are many ways children can be included in the services and you may wish to have a conversation with the family about which ideas will work best for them. Remembering A Life is an organization that offers resources to help families create meaningful services, including many different considerations for children and funerals.
Here is an overview of different ways to include children in services, and a family may choose one or many of these ways, based on what their own child is most drawn towards:
Talk to the family about who can help support their child during the services if the parent or caregiver is occupied (delivering a eulogy, having a private conversation, etc.). Identifying and enlisting a close friend, neighbor, or another trusted adult to help care for and support their child during the services can give the entire family added comfort and support.
After the services have ended, encourage the family to set aside time to talk about any questions that may have come up for the child. There may be new questions that their child didn’t know they had before, and this can be an opportunity to have a conversation with their child about the passing.
1. Make a card, draw a picture, or write a letter to place inside the casket or next to the urn
2. Choose meaningful items (photographs, mementos, keepsakes) to display during the visitation and/or services. This is a great opportunity to remember favorite memories together with your child.
Give your child an opportunity to choose a role to participate during the services:
3. Hand out funeral brochures or memorial cards
4. Share a special memory, poem, reading or song during the service
5. Join as a junior pallbearer
If your child is not able to attend the services, there are other things you can do to include him or her:
6. Watch a video recording of the services together with your child
7. Share the funeral brochure or memorial card
8. Share the script or speeches that were given during the services
You may wish to provide your families with the article, Supporting Children at Each Stage of Development, for ways to support a grieving child or teen at each stage of development.
For additional resources on supporting children and teens after a loss, you and your client families can visit the following organizations. They provide helpful insight, suggestions, and resources for children and families who are navigating life after a loss.
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