Children feel as many complex emotions after the loss of a loved one as adults do, and these emotions can be harder for them to deal with since most kids have not had a chance to develop many coping skills. They may feel pain they don't understand and even have many questions about what death truly is. However, going to the visitation before a cremation service can be a good way for children to be among those who are also experiencing the loss and receive both attention and solace from fellow mourners. Here are some tips for how to help children get the most out of a visitation.
Plan Age-Appropriate Distractions
Unlike funerals, visitations can sometimes go on for several hours. If you plan on staying at the visitation for a considerable amount of time, bring along distractions for children. No matter how bereaved kids may be, they are likely to have a hard time focusing on being quiet and well-behaved at the visitation without some planned activities. Considering bringing along the following things that can help children stay quiet and respectful without getting restless.
- Crayons and coloring books.
- Magazines for kids such as "Highlights".
- Tablet with the volume muted.
- Fill-in-the-blank journal or activity book.
- Cards and envelopes.
- Sketch book and pencil.
Talk to Kids About What to Expect
Talk to your children about what they can expect at a visitation. Kids may be very confused and can make some pretty broad assumptions if they are not familiar with the customs of grief. Talk to your kids about why people have a visitation after a death. Here are a few things you should be sure to discuss with them.
- Explain what behavior is necessary at a visitation. Also talk about the consequences of failing to behave. For example, if the child cannot be quiet and respectful during the visitation, they will have to leave. Talk about who will take them home and any other consequences for misbehaving at the visitation.
- Talk about what the children should say to those who were closest to the deceased. You may go over some simple sentences that they can say that would be appreciated and comforting. You may encourage them to simply say that they are sorry for the loss.
- Discuss what should never be done at a visitation. For example, they should not ask questions about how the person died. Go over what they may ask you and what isn't okay to ask someone else.
Finally, keep in mind that bringing kids to a visitation before a cremation service should be discussed with the family. Make sure that they are okay with having kids at the visitation. Many children can handle it well, but be prepared to leave early or have someone else take your kids home in case it becomes more than they can handle. For more information, consult with experts, like those at American Cremation Society.