There comes a time in all of our lives when we must say goodbye to someone that we love very much. Most of us will remember the first funeral we went to for our entire lives. Although they never get easier, we learn how to deal with them more and more over time. Our kids however, have not had that time to learn to deal with these sad events. It can be hard for us to see our children deal with this, but there are ways we can make it easier for our kids to make it through.
1. If you are the parent of a younger child, go ahead and have the first of many difficult conversations. You will need to explain what exactly death is. Telling them that this is natural and letting them know what you believe after death can make all the difference.
2. Explain to your kids what a funeral is, what to expect, and what will happen overall. Tell them that there will probably be people they do not know or do not remember. Tell them that there might be an open casket for them to see the lost loved one, just one last time.
3. Tell them that it is ok to be sad, angry, and even confused. Let them know how you feel as well, but most importantly, talk to them. Ask how they feel and check in on them. Let your child know that you are there for them.
4. If they feel like they need a little bit of alone time give it to them. Or, if your child feels as if they need the opposite, being around family or friends, support that they do not want to feel alone right now.
5. Fully discuss how you feel about everything, whether it be the funeral, the person who has passed, or death in general. This will also help your child feel safe and supported enough to talk about it themselves.
6. Ask if there is some way they want to honor the person. Your child may want to give back a gift or picture of a memory. Maybe they want to wear a special color to the funeral or leave some kind of flowers to honor the memory of the now gone loved one.
7. Answer your child’s questions, they are bound to have more than one. They might ask what happens after you die or why people even die in the first place.
8. Perhaps most importantly, do not force anything that is having to do with the funeral onto your child. They might not want to go to a funeral, especially an open casket funeral. It’s best to follow the child’s lead to see what they feel most comfortable doing.
There’s one big thing you shouldn’t do. Do not ignore the significance of the event. Don’t assume your child is fine. Give this sad yet important life even the attention it deserves.