Before funerals at funeral homes in Sterling Heights, MI, children who are old enough to comprehend – children under five years of age are probably too young – the death and loss of a loved one should know what has happened, know what is going to happen, and be included in the entire process that accompanies the death of someone we love.
While children don’t have the emotional maturity or the complexity of emotions that adults may experience when someone they love has died, it’s important to know that children can still grieve the loss more intensely than you might expect, especially if they were very close to the person who has died.
First, you should explain to your children that death is part of life and that the grief that comes with death is normal. You should also explain to your children that grief varies from person to person, even within the same immediate family, so they know to expect that grief will have different faces. By explaining how grief works, you can help your children know that how they grieve and express that grief is normal and nothing to be ashamed of.
Next, you should explain the funeral process to your children. Be sure to be specific. Let them know what to expect at the visitation. It can be very shocking – and perhaps even scary – for children to see someone they love lying in a casket, motionless, with their eyes closed, and their hands folded over each other, and almost looking like the person did when they were alive. It can also be surprising for children to touch their loved one’s body and discover that it is very cold.
You should explain visitation protocol to your children. Explain to them that they’ll be up front in the funeral home beside you and the rest of the family and people will come by and express their condolences. You need to make sure that you also prepare your children for the kinds of grief they might see, because they will likely see a range of emotions they have not experienced before.
Then, you should explain the funeral service to your children. Often, older children in the immediate family of the loved one who died may be asked to do readings as part of the funeral service.
Go through the order of the funeral service with your children so they know what to expect and so that they understand the purpose of each part of the service, both as a matter of tribute to your deceased love one, and as a source of comfort for everyone who is mourning their loss.
Finally, you should explain the graveside service to your children. Tell them what its purpose is and how it’s different from the funeral service. Let them know that the casket will be sitting above the cemetery plot where your loved one will be buried, because they’ll see the dirt that has been dug out around it.
The first few days between the death of a loved one and their burial are often so busy that they’re a blur and the reality of them being permanently gone doesn’t fully sink in. However, once the funeral process is over, the real grieving often begins. Discuss the grief process openly with your children and encourage them to talk about how they’re feeling with you. Watch for signs of withdrawal and depression and consider grief counseling if these become protracted.
For more information about grief resources at funeral homes in Sterling Heights, MI, our compassionate and experienced staff at Lee-Ellena Funeral Home can help.