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Should 6 Year Old Go to the Funeral?

Hi, My friend had a question and i knew who to ask! She is a single mom to 3 kids one almost 7, 2, and 6 weeks. Her dad just passed away, he was a big part of the almost 7 year olds life, and her question is weither or not he should be at the funeral or showing? I am watching the other two but at 7 how much should he be involved? It is going to be open casket, then cremation. Any advice welcome. Just a little back ground her father got sick 6 months ago and went really quick. Thanks Also just to add this: He was told yesterday and explained to where grandpa went. And today asked if he could go see grandpa at the hospital. He also is in the process of being on adhd meds, very hyper active. Thanks

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Thanks for all the advice!! I talked to his mom and they are going early to the family viewing. They will see how he handles that, there will be a friend on stand by to get him out of there if he doesn't do well. Then if he wants to go back for the funeral he will be able to. They have the showing from 4-7 and funeral at 7. Thanks again, I always know who to ask when I or my friends have questions!!

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My first instinct is to say "yes" but the more I think about it, it really depends on how hyper active he is and if he will make the showing and/or funeral more difficult for his Mom. She needs to have the proper venue to grieve so that she can move on and help her own family move on. If he will make the situation more stressful for her then he should stay home. If he will be a welcomed distraction, then he should be allowed to go. I think it's important to celebrate life at all events and he should be allowed to do that, too.

I think that since it's a part of life, children should be included. My family has always included everyone, but I also try to look at more as a celebration of the persons life... if that makes sense. I hope this helps. I am very sorry for the loss.

I think sheltering children from life-cycle events like birth and death just leads to a fear of them. He's definitely old enough to go say goodbye to his grandfather. I think not taking him runs the risk of him thinking Grandpa is still in the hospital and might get better.

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This is a very hard topic and my condolences go to the family. I have lost numerous family members during my children's (son is 16 and daughter is 11) lives, including two of their sisters. When my second born passed away at 23 months my son was only 5 1/2 and my daughter was 3 1/2 months. My son was very close to her but she was sick from birth. We chose to take him to the funeral, my daughter stayed with friends. We felt he needed to be there and explained as best we could that his sister's body was in the casket, she was not sleeping as this can cause many problems for children fearing if they go to sleep they may pass as well. My daughter died at the hospital as well and we all said goodbyes including my son. We chose to tell him that his sissy was now in heaven as an angel and playing with other family members including a great grandfather that passed just a year before. I had many fears during the funeral, thinking he would try to wake her up or pick her up. But after explaining she was not sleeping and that was her sick body laying there, her healthy body was in heaven, he handled it better than I feared. He told her goodbye again and we make regular trips to the cemetery where still to this day he talks to her about everything. I hope this helps a little, but I feel it is best to explain as best you can about death to settle their possible fears and let them say goodbye in their own way. Again my condolences for your lost.

1 mom found this helpful

I think sheltering children from life-cycle events like birth and death just leads to a fear of them. He's definitely old enough to go say goodbye to his grandfather. I think not taking him runs the risk of him thinking Grandpa is still in the hospital and might get better.

Hi T.,
I'm so sorry to hear of your friend's loss ~ difficult time of year! I think it depends on the child. My mother-in-law passed away on Halloween (my husband was trick-or-treating w/ our girls). Anyway, we took our older daughter who just turned 8 on 12/5. It was a similar situation ~ my mother-in-law was sick since the beginning of June. We explained the situation to our daughter & she visited her in the hospital a couple of times. She was fine seeing Grandma in her open casket & OK at the funeral too. Out of all of the kids, my 11 y/o nephew had the hardest time (5 of the 8 grandkids went ~ the oldest is 11 & the youngest is 5). Again, I think it depends on the child.

Yes, he should go. Death is a part of life - children need to be included for funerals. All of my children have always gone to funerals, and I use it as a teaching moment. Yes, it's very sad, but shielding children from it doesn't help them. They need that closure to be able to sort the pieces later on when some time has passed.
I tell my children that the body they see at a wake is like an egg shell. The important part - the soul that was inside - already went to heaven the moment the person died. They don't need their egg shell body anymore, but we like to see it one last time so we can think about the person while we send a prayer of love and good-byes.
I remind them of this simple analogy a couple times a year if they are around when I'm cracking eggs for a recipe. I have them watch as the edible part of the egg stays and the egg shell is discarded. I stress that it's ok that I'm not saving the egg shell because it already served it purpose and now is no longer needed.

Absolutely! My kids are 11 and 9 and have been going to funerals since they were barely walking. Like one of the other responses said, it is a normal part of life. They can learn the proper way to pay their respects, and say goodbye as well. My son was almost 5 when his favorite great-aunt died; they were very close. Her funeral was the first one he really remembers. As with all kids, you can't freak out if their manners aren't adult-like. My son rushed into the funeral home and flew across the room to the casket, then loudly yelled out..it doesn't even look like her! (All the makeup) But he touched her and talked to her for a bit, and then told everyone not to be sad..cause she was in heaven and had her leg back (she'd had a leg amputated due to circulation problems). It really did make everyone feel so much better. He and the other children were also invited to ride to the cemetery in the "limo", which they thought was pretty cool. To this day he still talks about his aunt. And given the opportunity, your friend's son will hold those memories of his grandfather dear...including the funeral.

often times we try to shield children from any type of pain, but in the case of death, I have found it is a good way to help them work through their grief to attend the funeral. when my grandmother died, the kids all went (10, 7, and 6 at the time) and they had an easier time saying goodbye. Its what we do as adults, and do not underestimate children, they are very perceptive, and by not attending, they have no closure and no understanding of why the person has just disappeared from their lives. I would encourage your friend to allow her son to attend and say goodbye to his grandpa, it will be part of the healing process for him.

I would say, yes let him go. My great grandfather died when I was 4. He was a huge part of our lives because he lived with us. He and I would spend hours together watching Sesame Street, having picnics in our yard, going on walks, etc. I still remember when he died (I am 40 now) and I remember that I stayed with the family of my babysitter the day of his funeral. My mom says I have never let her forget that she didn't let me go. My own grandfather died 4 years ago and his entire family came. All my cousins and 26 of his great grandchildren ranging in age from 17 to 8 months old. My grandmother said it was wonderful having everyone who was so dear to him there. We had some volunteers from the church in the nursery to help with the babies but death shouldn't be a scary thing for kids, it's a part of life. At 6 or 7 they are understanding a lot more than we give them credit for. Kids are still people but in the small size variety. If grandpa was important to him, he should be able to say goodbye also. He may not do it like an adult, but at that age, I think it is good for them to be able to attend.

My thoughts:

He should be given time to see/ say goodbye to his grandfather without the hectic stress of a funeral. There should be a time before the showing that she could take him in, just the 2 of them. THen you could watch him with his siblings. That way he gets his time, and your friend doesn't have to stress over him while she is dealing with the showing.

Tell your friend - Sorry for her loss!

YES he should go I lost my step fater when I was 6 and wasn't allowed to go to the viewing or anything. My mom thought I was too young. For may years I resented not being able to go and say goodbye. It hurt me more not going that it would have seeing him lying there. I think a smart decision would be to have a close friend go too that dosn't feel the need to be there for the service incase the child does need to go outside, maybe a babysitter or someone like that, thatway the mother can stay if the need arises.

THis is completly up to her AND her 7 year old. I'm a little different than most parents, my kids have been to lots of funerals. In 1997, we had 9 family funerals; my kids went to all but one (for a baby). I usually had a friend at the viewing who was willing to keep the kids occupied (one funeral home even had a play room with kid friendly videos, and toys) and if the kids wanted to see the body, we let them. I would ask if he wants to go for a little while. If he does, have someone bring him up for a few minutes for the viewing and then take him home. Every kid is different. Just my thoughts.

I've personally never been to a cremation. I can say that I would definitly take the child to the open casket. If the cremation can be explained to the child, then possibly he can also go there.
I have taken my 5 year old to relatives he has known, but not as close, to their open casket and then brial but it was mostly just a prayer service at the grounds.

absolutely and someone should be there to explain that heisnt coming home.he is eternally asleep.be honest and straitforward with him

I would say YES. I think being up front about death, especially a loved one, is the best way to handle it. The child may grow up and resent he didn't get to be part of it.

Good luck.

My first instinct is to say "yes" but the more I think about it, it really depends on how hyper active he is and if he will make the showing and/or funeral more difficult for his Mom. She needs to have the proper venue to grieve so that she can move on and help her own family move on. If he will make the situation more stressful for her then he should stay home. If he will be a welcomed distraction, then he should be allowed to go. I think it's important to celebrate life at all events and he should be allowed to do that, too.

Yes, I think he should go. Especially since he was close to him and has asked to go back and see him. He needs closure like everyone else and to understand(as best he can) that his grandpa is not coming back.

Yes, this child should be allowed to attend her grandfather's funeral if he wants to, especially if they were close. Of course it will be a sad occasion, but children need that closure as well as adults. It's important not to hide anything, and to explain things as much as possible to the extent that he can understand. It's possible that the pastor (or whoever is officiating the service) will be able to help answer questions and give advice on what to tell this child. My oldest son was 6 when we lost his baby brother, and he did attend the funeral because we felt it was important. Kids understand so much more than we realize, and we need to acknowledge what they are feeling.

YES, he should definitely go! When my father-n-law passed away 2 years ago, my 3 & 5 yr old were only 1 & 3 at the time, and they both went to the all day showings and the funeral itself. They need to understand where their loved one has gone and why they are not going to see this loved one anymore. We had them give PaPa a kiss and tell him good-bye before we they closed the casket. If you shield him from this now, he will never understand and will not feel comfortable with the issue of dying and funerals. I will keep your friend and her family in my prayers.


It depends on the child, and since your friend is emotionally unable to think this through clearly it is up to you to step up and help.I recently lost a child in the family, I did not take his cousin who is 5. I went to a funeral last week and there were 2 children sitting next to me and 3 sitting in front of me. I am sure there are alot of different opinions on this, but ask this, will it benefit the child to see a very close person in a casket?
Will it emotionally scar the child , or help the child cope with the loss with a closing? Maybe a visit to the graveyard, to visit grandpa would be more appropriate. Very sorry for your friends loss.Leave the newborn and two year at home, or leave the 2 year old at home and let her take the baby because holding on to the baby may help her stay calm. I can't honestly say what to do with the 7 year old. Use your knowledge of the child, the maturity, the depth of loss, and what has the child asked to do? And maybe have an adult be there who would be willing to take him home or stay by his side as needed. The recent loss of his father , and then his grandfather may be too much for him emotionally, and make him think he will die to or make him very fearful of losing his mother.

I think he should go and say good bye to his Grandpa. Dealth is a part of life at any age. If she didn't let him go, or lied to him it could create problems for him about dealth later on in life.

If he wants to go, he should be allowed to go. It is good for closure. But if he doesn't want to, that should be respected too.

Death is a reality of life. It is not hidden in other cultures, so why ours? If the child was close to grandpa and currently missing him, it will be best to let him go to the funeral. He needs to understand the reality and have closure. I'm sure it will help with healing and understanding in the long run. I lost friends, who were at the time children and youths before I lost an older relative. Those children's and youths family members, including brothers and sisters were at their funerals, and so was I with my parents. My daughter lost a friend at a very early age, he was nine and she was ten. We can't ignore these people existed in our lives, so why not respect them and say a farewell? I firmly believe it is helpful and loving and a part of life.

Yes, children should attend funerals (and weddings and other big life events). In my family and the small town where I grew up it wasn't even a question... I never knew there was a "debate" about it until I was adult and my sister married into a family who believe not even older children/teens should go to funerals "because they are too sad". Anyways... the child needs closure. Children need to know about death and that's why some people in their lives go away - it's not their choice. They need to say goodbye. They need to see and experience how the adults in their life handle this situation... do they cry or freak out or withdraw or get angry? Or do they cry and lean on each other for support and exchange the happy memories. I grew up in a family (and very large extended family) in which funerals are more to celebrate the person's life - not feel sorry for the living who now have to live without them. If they don't as children (by watching the adults at these events) how to handle death, then how do they know how to react as adults? I can see this in my brother-in-law's family... no one in the family handles death well, they avoid funerals, don't talk about people once they are dead and they refuse to celebrate the person's life and remember the good times.

I think that since it's a part of life, children should be included. My family has always included everyone, but I also try to look at more as a celebration of the persons life... if that makes sense. I hope this helps. I am very sorry for the loss.

hi, i am very sorry to hear about your friends dad. my dad passed away when my nephew was only three, and they were very close. my sister let him go to the funeral and i think it helped him understand what happened. so that grandpa wasnt just there one day and gone the next.

Yes, I believe the young man is old enough to go to the funeral and be allowed to participate it will give him closing on it and probably help him understand death better.My youngest sister at 3 went to our grandmothers funeral and she did very well through the whole thing.It kind of flipped me out though when she wanted to kiss Grandma good bye, my step mother allowed it.
I'm almost 50 now and haven't been to a funeral since, that was 24 years ago. I have already told all my friends and family I won't attend any more open casket funerals , I just want to remember them the way they were. And that they should know that I will always carry them with me in my heart.

I think he should go- my 5 and 9 year olds went to my grandmothers. I made sure to prepare them before hand about what they would see/ what would go on. I also made sure they understood appropriate behavior (after all boys will be boys) They both did just fine, it was kind of boring for the little one though through the calling hours- it might be a good idea to have a plan for someone to pick him up if he gets bored.

Yes, he should go.
I always included my children as my mother did me.
And 2 years ago when my mother died at home here at the age of 102, my husband went to the school to pick up my 5 year old granddaughter who was living with us at the time and saw us and the hospice nurse care for Great-Grandma.
He brought her home so that she could see Grandma lying peacefully in her bed before they took her away.
Many of our family gathered here at that time too to say good-by.
Two days later we all gathered at her calling at our church, the next day the 2 teenage great granddaughters read at her funeral and 3 or 4 of the younger ones ages 4, 5, and 7 brought up gifts at her funeral.
Death is part of life, and children are part of life and death, as are we.
It might help her children if she would get some books at the library about this and read to them.

Yes, by all means. they should all go. I was raised going to funerals as a infant. It was a natural part of life. A part of the cycle of life. My cousins never went to funerals. As adults my cousin is terrified of funerals. I doubt she will be able to arrange for her own parents funeral. It is a perfect time to teach your children. Respect, appropriate ways to say goodbye.
It also shows the child that grandpa did not desert them.
There are wonderful books avaialble as well to help teach children at their level.

I think he should go. My daughter in law was 6 when her mom died. They did not let her go to funeral or veiwing. It took her 25 yr. to deal with it. My grandaughter has been to several funerals of close relatives and has handled it well.

This is a part of life. Some kids have to deal with it earlier than six. I say.....take him, PARTICULARLY if he was a big part of his life. The one thing I can say for sure....learned the hard way.....you HAVE TO HAVE CLOSURE!!! Even at that age, it will help with that, regardless of how much he does or doesn't understand.

DONT keep him from a situation where he might be able to bring some joy & smiles to people by talking about the special things they did, etc. admidst all the sadness. LET HIM TALK about those memorable things. Help him make a scrapbook or something like that. Something he can keep and look back on and will help bring closure,too.

I went around to my cousins at my grandmother's funeral and asked them what they would remember most about her. I got up & spoke at her funeral using those things. People laughed, people cried, but it HELPED remind us of who she was and why we loved her so much. DONT hinder him from speaking out about his relationship with him.....encourage it! It's one of the best things for healing & closure you can do!!!

Kids tend to handle death WWWWAAAAY better than adults! Again, from personal experience, I KNOW! My fiance' died when I was 25. My four year old niece began telling me about angels and why people die, etc. I felt like I knew NOTHING compared to her. She was very close to him. This was within about six weeks of his death. She told me that people shouldn't be sad when people die because they will always be with us. We just can't always hear or see them, but they can hear & see us. Again, how stupid did I feel?? My brother had SUCH a hard time telling her and kept trying to avoid it. She just told him not to cry and that it was okay because he was one of God's messengers now. How stupid did my brother feel? Kids can HELP the healing and hurt! Don't deny him the opportunity to heal and help others do the same!

One of the responders said "they have never been to a cremation". I don't think people go to those??? Just an FYI.

I think 7 is OK to go to the funeral. Ask questions before you go and make sure you explain everything and ask for questions.

Good Luck!

Much like everyone else said I think he should go to the viewing but maybe a little early where it is just him and mom. He can say good bye without any distractions then she will be free to explain things to him and hold him if he cries. Without some strangers telling him that they are sorry and trying to make him feel better and more scared. I would then have her bring him to your house while she goes back if that is an option. I would not however make him sit through a long funeral service and see him after he is cremated, that may be just too much knowing that they put Grandpa in a fire. Maybe better to leave that part out I could imagine that causing bad thoughts and dreams.

Good luck :)

I send my condolences to that family. To answere the question - most defineately! My five year old son who is legally blind went to his grandpa's funeral this July - it gave him closure. Then in August his brother died, it helped him out a lot. I think it's very important to allow the child to say goodbye and to have the closure. My son touched both his grandpa's and brother's hands and he still asks a lot of questions. Visit your local hospice and pick up their brochure on explaining death of grandparents to young children. It was helpful. Good luck.

My aunt, who I loved dearly, passed away when I was 6 and I wasn't allowed to go to the funeral. I had a hard time dealing with her death for many years and my mom always believed that it was because I wasn't given the chance to grieve at the funeral like everyone else.

Our rituals are created to help us deal with the passing, and there's no reason why the young one should not be given a chance for formalized grieving. He is in mourning like everyone else. I think she should take him.

One piece of advice... she should make sure that he's sitting with her and with someone who he trusts and loves and who can stay strong and explain things on the other side of him. She should also be prepared for unusual questions and comments-- at my uncle's funeral, my son walked up to my aunt and started explaining the decay process of the human body. (Um, yeah, inappropriate.) So, you never know what will happen, and it would be good, if possible, to have someone who is not in full fledged grieving to be standing by him.

Yes, he should go to the funeral. Children need closure too.

Yes, the little boy should go and everyone should be honest with him about death. We try to protect our children from the realities of death and then expect them to understand and cope as adults. It is not the right way to do things. Take him to the funeral, explain what happened and why and then find the grieving books for children by Ben Keckler, and help him through the process.
Even suggest support groups for children who have lost parents or grandparents, local hospitals usually have those programs, just check with the chaplaincy departments

Mt five-year-old went to my Grandmother's viewing and funeral and did just fine. I told him ahead of time that the meeting was for people to be sad together and remember our Grandma who had gone to heaven. Then when we got to the funeral home, he got a new toy Transformer to play with while everyone visited. Some funeral homes have a room with a TV and snacks and a few toys so the kids can take breaks and go play but are still there. Have your friend call the funeral home and see what is available.

Kids are a great source of comfort during a sad time. Plus I think they should be allowed to pay their respects to the people they love just like we are. Preparation is what is important so they know what to expect. Also, I thnk it depends on the child's level of behavior and for how long they can focus. It might be a good idea to have someone be a "handler" like an older kid cousin, who can take him out and walk around when he needs a break.

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