Big questions surround exposing a child to grief or allowing them to participate in a funeral. Old school values say no, but new bereavement science states that is the worst thing to do for a child. Children need to express themselves and over protective shielding is not healthy long term for a child.
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The article, Is it OK to take a young child to a funeral?, by
“Seeing the distress on her 10-year-old daughter Charlotte’s face as her mother-in-law’s coffin was carried into church, Katherine Nicholson instantly regretted allowing her child to attend a funeral so young. “She was distraught,” says Katherine. “She couldn’t take her eyes off the coffin and was sobbing as she gripped my hand.
“Charlotte’s weeping continued throughout the service, but when I offered to step outside with her she smiled, shook her head, and insisted she wanted to stay.”
Charlotte and her grandmother, who died last year aged 84, were extremely close. But when funeral arrangements were discussed, Katherine, a publisher from Ipswich, presumed her daughter wouldn’t attend. She says: “I thought 10 was too young to be exposed to the grief of a funeral. They’re emotionally draining, and the idea of my child experiencing something so harrowing seemed cruel.
“Her grandmother dying was her first experience of death. I thought that was enough for her to have to deal with at that age.”
But Charlotte, and Katherine’s husband, Nick, a college lecturer, were adamant she should attend. “Charlotte wanted to say a proper goodbye, and Nick felt it wrong to skirt around the fact that death and the rituals surrounding it are a part of life,” says Katherine.”
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