Home > Ask Our Experts > Child Attending Parent's Funeral: How to Handle This?

Child Attending Parent's Funeral: How to Handle This?

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 15 Jan 2015 | comments*Discuss
 
Death Death Of A Parent Father Funeral

Q.

My daughter has lost her father today and your website has helped me to tell her the devastating news.

Could you please advise me on what to do regarding a child going to the funeral of a parent?

(M.T, 22 April 2009)

A.

Whether or not a child attends a parent's funeral will likely depend on the age of the child as well as that particular child's personality and temperament. However, it is not generally helpful for a parent to make the decision without consulting their child, so asking your daughter about how much involvement she would like to have in the funeral is a good idea.

To begin, talk with your daughter about what happens at a funeral. Discuss where the funeral will take place, who will be there, the different parts of the service and why it is important to you to have the funeral. Make it clear that a funeral has a 'script' so to speak, and that for the most part she would be expected to follow it. Explain that her father will be in a casket and that he will not be able to move, speak or otherwise acknowledge her. If there is to be an open casket, discuss with her what she can expect when she sees her father. Also make it clear what the burial will entail, and that you will both ultimately have to leave the cemetery without her father.

It can be hard for children to know how to act at a funeral, particularly if they are not used to open displays of grief. Talk with your daughter about how she will feel if she cries, and how she will feel if she sees others cry. You may even want to role play with her simple ways she can answer people if they ask her questions or want to talk about her father.

Use this discussion too as an opportunity also to discuss what the two of you can do together to honour her father, whether it is at the funeral, burial or a later memorial service. If she has a concrete idea of what she can do to say goodbye to her father then your daughter might be more comfortable with the idea of going to the funeral or staying home but having her own ceremony at a later date.

If your daughter does decide to go to the funeral, ask a friend or relative to help you keep an eye on her so that you don't have the sole responsibility for it. You might also consider hiring a familiar babysitter to come along to tend to your daughter's needs. Similarly, if your daughter decides to stay home then try to have someone well known to her stay with her. Most of all, make it clear to your daughter that you support whatever she thinks is best. Make her feel comfortable and confident in her decision, and remember that a funeral is just one event. You and your daughter will have many opportunities to remember her father so don't put undue emphasis on the funeral itself.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
@helena. That's something you and son must discuss between you. Does he feel he should be there for his friend? Did he know his friend's father well? Does he want to do this to 'show his respects'? Will his friend expect him to be there? Explain what happens at a memorial service, how they can be extremely sad, but can also make people feel better as they are often a celebration of someone's life etc. Once you've discussed all these things you should be in position to make a information decision between you.
FacingBereavement - 19-Jan-15 @ 11:45 AM
Should I take my 8 year old son to his friends dad's Memorial Service?
Helena - 15-Jan-15 @ 6:30 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Jac
    Re: Questionnaire: Do You Need Bereavement Counselling?
    Hi. My mum got diagnosed sept 12th 2016 Acute myeloid leukaemia passed away 10th July 2017..im heart…
    22 November 2017
  • FacingBereavement
    Re: How Grief Affects Your Relationships
    Neil - Your Question:5 years ago my father passed away due to his long standing alcohol addiction it's something I have…
    22 November 2017
  • Steve
    Re: Inheriting Property
    Ny wifes mother left her and her sister the house. The will states that her unmarried partner is allowed to live in the house until he dies.…
    21 November 2017
  • FacingBereavement
    Re: What if There is No Will?
    ks - Your Question:Hi Im divorced for over 10 yrs, but I have children with my ex, he is living with someone else, but concerned his…
    21 November 2017
  • FacingBereavement
    Re: Coping with Multiple Deaths
    Sprout - Your Question:My only brother shot and killed my twin 16 Year old Nieces 4-days before their 17th, Birthday and then shot…
    20 November 2017
  • Sprout
    Re: Coping with Multiple Deaths
    My only brother shot and killed my twin 16 Year old Nieces 4-days before their 17th, Birthday and then shot and killed himself. One…
    19 November 2017
  • Anie
    Re: What if There is No Will?
    My dad who was a loner was diagnosed with dementia 1 1/2 years ago, my sister who didn't talk to him for years quickly took over POA…
    18 November 2017
  • Neil
    Re: How Grief Affects Your Relationships
    5 years ago my father passed away due to his long standing alcohol addiction it's something I have dealt with my whole…
    18 November 2017
  • FacingBereavement
    Re: What if There is No Will?
    hapla - Your Question:I have been paying back 7 different debt companies £1 month for years as I got myself in to trouble with a bad…
    17 November 2017
  • FacingBereavement
    Re: Questionnaire: Do You Need Bereavement Counselling?
    Annaboys3 - Your Question:My mom passed away February 22nd of this year the same day I gave birth to…
    17 November 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the FacingBereavement website. Please read our Disclaimer.