Grief is something we all must deal with at some point in our lives.
For families with children, funeral services and the mourning process can be difficult to navigate. Being aware of your child’s maturity and grasp of what death truly means is important.
Keep reading for a breakdown of how the grieving process should be faced according to age. This solemn time should be respected by all ages and just because kids may not grasp it with utter maturity doesn’t mean they can’t be involved in the grief process.
Infants and Toddlers
Babies may not have the language skills to fully express loss, but they can still feel it. The absence of a loved one can be felt immediately. If you have toddlers, be sure to hold them and allow them to cuddle with you.
Physical affection and comfort will help them through their grief and tell them they are safe and loved.
Children of all ages should be allowed to attend a funeral service. Be prepared for tears and sniffles though if your child is young. Many funeral homes and chapels will have spaces for parents to retreat to should it become too overwhelming for toddlers.
When it comes to talking about death with a 5-year-old, it’s important to use concrete terms.
Young children have beautiful imaginations and may have trouble grasping vague descriptions. Sit them down and explain as simply as you can what has happened to their loved one. Explain what the funeral is going to be like.
Allowing your child to grieve is important. However, don’t let them get overwhelmed by the entire process. If you sense a meltdown at the funeral, be sure to take them somewhere safe and quiet.
Sitting down with them and letting them express what is upsetting them or worrying them will allow you to explain further why death is just a natural process of life.
Pre-teens will naturally have a better grasp of death and the mourning process.
Children this age will be more able to express their loss and what it feels like. Allowing them to fully express their feelings and reflect on the person they have lost will help them mourn.
They may even have a good grasp of human anatomy and be able to explain the death process to you. This may seem morbid but it is good for them to understand the reality of death.
Allow them to talk about their feelings and keep them busy. Routine will help them stay focused.
It is common knowledge that teenagers can be emotional and allow their feelings to get a bit out of control.
Teens express themselves more like adults. They experience grief via anger and sadness. They may wish to spend more time with their friends than with their families during a grief process.
Sometimes talking to someone their own age about death and what they are feeling is a better way to grasp the loss they’ve just experienced. The recovery process for a teenager may take longer.
If you notice this, be sure to sit down with them. Talking to them about their feelings may be awkward. Because teens are evolving into adults, they must understand that communication is essential to handling difficult feelings.
Contacting a grief counselor may help them process their loss.
Funeral Services are a Time of Reflection
Dealing with a sudden death can be a traumatizing experience for families.
For those with children who have never experienced funeral services though, it can be doubly trying. How do you explain to a child what death may mean for the future of your family?
There are no easy answers, unfortunately.
Death affects all of us in different ways. Therefore, with children of all ages, it needs to be navigated carefully. Do not be afraid to get experts involved if you think it may be too overwhelming for you and your child.
Additionally, planning the actual funeral can be an exhausting process. Take some of the stress out by contacting our professional staff for help.
As a private and family-owned funeral provider, Mile High Mortuary & Cremation Service offers traditional funeral and cremation services with over 30 years experience in assisting families during their time of need.