Thursday, May 23, 2024

Guide Your Child Through Their First Funeral...


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When it comes to parenthood, there’s not always a guide, there’s no handbook, and sometimes it’s about using your best judgment. Even when preparing for parenthood, it’s just something you’ll have to accept and struggle with. You just can’t always keep your kid safe. One of the most challenging ones would be grieving, not just you are grieving, but managing your child's grieving, too. It’s hard when tragedy strikes like this. So, throw a funeral into the mix too. Now, as a parent, you can’t always protect your child to prevent certain things from happening; sometimes, there’s the inevitable, such as death. 

Sometimes, this could be a pet, and other times, a family member like a grandparent or even a close friend. It’s never ideal to share awful news, but how do you do it? Better yet, how can you prepare your child for their first-ever funeral? Well, here’s what you need to know. 

You’ll Need Open and Honest Communication

So, you need to keep in mind that the foundation of preparing your child for a funeral begins with open and honest communication. This means that you’ll need to start by explaining, in age-appropriate language, what a funeral is and why it’s happening. Emphasize that it’s a time for people to come together to remember and honor the person who has passed away. But on top of that, you’ll have to encourage your child to ask questions, express their feelings, and be prepared to offer simple, straightforward answers.

Are You Having to Prepare the Funeral?

Was it someone that you were close to, like your parent or another close loved one? It can be hard having to manage funeral planning while trying to help your child with their first time having to mourn. They need as much support as they can, but you need it too. It’s going to be hard to help them if you don’t help yourself first. Just think about it: you have to choose the casket, you’ll have to be the one to look into upright grave markers that the deceased would prefer, the right flowers, the music, the events, and so on. 

You’re overwhelmed, you have to mourn, you have this, you still have a routine, and you have your child. So, just keep in mind that you need to focus on yourself and take care of yourself because that’s the only way to properly help your child and guide them with mourning and their first-ever funeral. 

Before attending the funeral, it’s essential to manage your child’s expectations and prepare them for what they might see and experience. They need to understand the reality of all of this. So let them know that people may be sad and crying but that it’s okay to feel whatever emotions they’re feeling. 

Offer Your Reassurance

It’s going to feel more and more uncomfortable the closer it gets to this big day. So, as the funeral approaches, be sure to provide your child with plenty of reassurance and support.

Encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings with you and remind them that they are loved and safe.

Validate Their Feelings

One of the most important things you can do for your child at a funeral is to validate their feelings. Let them know that it’s okay to feel whatever emotions they’re experiencing, whether it’s sadness, anger, or even moments of joy, as they remember happier times with their loved ones. This might be obvious, but it’s still best to highlight this; just be sure to avoid dismissing or minimizing their emotions and instead offer empathy and understanding. They might cry at the funeral, and they might not show any emotion, but regardless, it needs to be validated. 

Encourage Expresssion

They don’t have to express anything during the funeral if they don’t want to; some people do, and some people don’t. So, with that said, just encourage your child to express their emotions in whatever way feels natural to them. Everyone has their own way of expressing this. Maybe this could be through tears, artwork, journaling, or simply talking with you or a trusted adult. Remind them that there are no right or wrong ways to grieve and that expressing their feelings is an essential part of the healing process.

Follow Up with Your Child

Once the funeral is over, maybe later that day or the next day, just follow up with them. You need to check in with your child regularly and provide continued support as they navigate their feelings of grief and loss. Again, this is their first time, so they probably still don’t know how to feel or how to manage any of this. Also, a good time to talk about religious beliefs etc. 

You can remind them that it’s normal to feel a range of emotions and that there is no right or wrong way to grieve.

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