Very young children won't know what's going on at a funeral while older children and teenagers are more likely to understand death and the loss of a loved one. Ultimately, it's your call whether you take your child to a funeral, but there are a few questions you can ask yourself if you're waffling back and forth between called a babysitter or not:
Does Your Child Understand What Death Means?
Before making your decision, ask yourself if your child has been exposed to death before. Children who understand that everyone dies, and have had some experience with losing loved ones, are more likely to follow funeral etiquette than a child who has never attended a funeral or who has been sheltered from what death really means.
If you're determined that your child will attend the funeral, consider having a discussion about death ahead of time.
Was Your Child Close to the Deceased?
If you're attending a funeral for someone your child didn't know or wasn't close to, he probably won't get anything out of the funeral service. If the services are for a beloved grandparent or a close family friend, your child will get much more out of the service.
Will Your Child Be Nervous or Scared?
Think about what type of service the funeral will be and what type of personality your child has. Consider whether there will be an open casket and whether your child will be scared or upset by seeing the dead body of a loved one. Also, think about whether your child tends to get nervous around a large group of grown-ups, many of which are likely to be strangers.
Can Your Child Sit Still and Quiet?
Funeral services are reverent and it's expected that guests will sit quietly and listen to the pastor or priest deliver a message and eulogy. Think about times you've taken your child to church, to the movies or other places where silence is expected. If your child was able to sit still and remain quiet, chances are a repeat performance at the funeral is likely.
If, however, your child wasn't able to stay seated and keep quiet, it's probably better to find a babysitter.
Does Your Child Want to Go?
While young children probably won't care one way or the other, older children might have strong feelings about whether they want to attend the funeral or not. A teenager who had a very close relationship with a grandparent, aunt or uncle will probably want to attend the services to get closure and say final goodbyes. Some children might not want to attend the funeral because they are not ready to say goodbye. Respect your child's wishes either way because everyone grieves differently.