In our experience as a service, we have discovered that when a child has all the information necessary to prepare them for a funeral, they are usually very eager to attend and take part. As long as the information is factual and simple, a child can experience a very meaningful ritual around their loved one which leaves them able to process the loss more effectively. If a child is disallowed, there can be a measure of anger, resentment and a feeling of exclusion which is sometimes difficult for them to move away from. Adults are often fearful of the sadness of a funeral overwhelming children. It must be remembered that the child is already very sad and the funeral affords them an opportunity to express this sadness, which may include many tears.

Some of the benefits of a child attending a funeral can be:

• Opportunity to say goodbye and ‘re-locate’ the person
• Opportunity to be involved in the process and ritual of mourning
• Give expression to their own grief
• To be ‘family’ in this shared experience
• Opportunity to receive comfort from others
• Have a good model for future losses
• Sense of completion of a life – death being the inevitable that greets us all
• Builder of resilience
• Resisting avoidance
• Opportunity to remember and feel sense of belonging to a bigger picture
• Celebrate and learn more about the person
• Gives them a sense of the value of the person who has died
• Gives them opportunity to see others joining in with the ritual, imbuing value and meaning
• Reinforces the connection/bonding with important ‘others’