I think that kids should come to a funeral. We need to find a way of including them in this funeral or memorial or a celebration of life – whatever we want to call it. Because children need to understand what death is.
There is an age appropriateness, I think, that needs to be considered. Rule of thumb, if you are old enough to love, you are old enough to grieve. You can teach your children so much by bringing them to a funeral.
There are ways of addressing children and talking to them about death at their level. But a loved one really shouldn’t just disappear on a child. Because that really confuses them. Children are little people, and we should treat them as such. And that is, find a way to explain what’s happened so that they get it.
We actually have a fantastic gentlemen on staff who will coach parents through best practices, what to say, what not to say. Be honest with your emotions, be upfront with them. Whatever you explain to a child will probably be simpler than what they are imagining. When a child isn’t allowed to come to the service, they are gonna fill in the blanks with probably some amazing or horrific or some story that is beyond what really is the truth.
A child has a profound ability to imagine things incorrectly. And so to take things from the imaginary and to make them real and to be there, to embrace and to allow our own presence to help children understand the meaning of life, the preciousness of love and life – in the context of death – is an opportunity that really shouldn’t be missed. And we encourage it and we help families do that.