Friday, October 7, 2016

Preparing Your Kids for a Funeral

"I AM the Resurrection and the Life" by Frank Holl (1872)

We have been walking through the "valley of the shadow of death" this week.  I wrote earlier this week about some books that we've been reading.  Today, I'm blogging about preparing your kids to attend a funeral.

1- Talk About It
From the announcement of the person's death to years from now, conversations about death need to be a normal part of your family life.  Kids need to know that they can ask you questions and that you're not afraid of their tears.

2- Read About It
Earlier this week, I posted a list of books for kids about death.  Our collection has been very helpful for addressing different aspects of death and mourning.  We've especially been enjoying Tear Soup and making up our own batches of pretend soup.

3- Prepare For It
As well as mentally and spiritually for the funeral, I think its also important to prepare your kids physically for the funeral.  I took the kids shopping for black clothes and explained to them how black is the color of mourning and respect in our culture.  The very act of buying new clothes can also help to set this time aside as special and different from the rest of life.  If you can afford it, it might be nice to have your kids buy flowers to place on the graveside or to put in the casket.

4- Have an Exit Plan
Little kids are unpredictable!  One day, they may behave like adults and sit through an event without a problem and some days they act like kids.  Some kids may be able to handle other people's emotions better than others.  I have one kid who will probably need a break from the funeral, which is why we've created an "exit plan" for him.  We have a room set up at the funeral with a few toys and activities, a place where he can be a little wild or loud or cry.

5- Follow Up
Grief is a long process, and it doesn't end at the funeral.  Be prepared to talk about death for many more months or even years.  Be open to their tears and questions.  Continue to bring out the books and the memories.  Welcome the process, and help your kids to embrace the end of life as part of life.

Let Evening Come
by Jane Kenyon

Let the light of late afternoon
Shine through the chinks of the barn.
Moving up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
As a woman takes up her needles
And her yarn.  Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
In the long grass.  Let the stars appear
And the moon disclose her sliver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den
Let the wind die down.  Let the shed
Go black inside.  Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch.  To the scoop
In the oats.  To the air
In the lung.  Let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don't
Be afraid.  God doesn't leave us
Comfortless, so let evening come.
(This poem was read at the funeral)


Additional Resources

- Books about Death for Kids

- Funeral Vocabulary 3-part Cards

- Why You Should've Taken Your Kids to that Funeral

- Workbooks for Kids about Death

- Little Kids and Death (attending a wake)

- Helping Your Preschooler Cope with Loss

- Best Funeral Foods

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