Helping a Child Grieve: Five Tips for Parents

If you are the parent of small children and you have lost a loved one, you have to help your child through the funeral services and through the grieving process. While that reality may look different for everyone, there are some tips that can help you through it. Keep these ideas in mind if you are helping a child grieve.

1. Let the kid decide if they want to attend the funeral

School-aged children and teens are old enough to know whether or not they want to attend a funeral. If the child is uncomfortable attending the services, honour those feelings and allow the child to stay at home.

However, if the child feels the opposite way and wants to attend the funeral, do not force them to stay home. Most kids instinctively know their comfort levels on this issue.

2. Arrange a separate area for the kids

If you are planning the funeral, keep in mind that kids may need a separate area during the service. If possible, try to hold the funeral in a church or another facility that has a built-in preschool or play room for kids.

That gives parents with crying babies or active toddlers a place to "hide," but it also gives older kids a place to retreat to if the emotions at the funeral get too intense.

3. Provide honest answers

In the days leading up to and following the funeral, kids are likely to have lots of questions. Answer them as honestly as you can.

Explain what is going to happen at the funeral to the inquisitive child, and be willing to answer questions about processes such as cremation or about different beliefs on what happens after death. It isn't necessary to shield kids from any of these issues.

4. Allow kids to express grief in their own ways

Kids, like adults, have a range of ways they need to express their grief. Allow your child to express grief in his or her own way. That could be drawing pictures about the deceased, talking about them (even when you are not in the mood) or even retreating from the issue to play videogames or do something that appears unrelated.

5. Bring distractions to the funeral

If you anticipate your child getting bored or overwhelmed at the funeral, let them bring a distraction. A handheld video game on silent or a book can help keep your child comfortable and distracted if the services get long.

As you're helping your child cope while also trying to oversee the funeral process, reach out to a local funeral home, like Tony Hollands Funerals, to see what services or help they can offer.