Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Should children attend funerals?

IT'S the question on everyone's lips right now.

Should a grieving child be allowed to attend their parent's funeral?

Eleven-year-old Paris Jackson's heartfelt message to her father proved the most memorable part of Michael Jackson's memorial on Tuesday.

But was it right to put her through such a traumatic experience?

Children's bereavement charity, Winston's Wish, believes that children should be given an informed choice - and not be forced into attending or staying at home.

"There's no right or wrong answer to whether a child should attend a funeral," says Brendan McIntyre, Family Services Manager at the charity.

"What is important is that they have information that helps them decide - but our 16 years of experience shows most children do choose to go.

"A child's vivid imagination often makes up what they don't know.

"Including and talking to children allows them to feel in control of something that can be very scary."

For younger children, Winston's Wish suggests using toys and play to help explain what a funeral means and how people are buried.

Through this play children feel more able to make the decision about attending their mum or dad's funeral.

If a child says they'd like to go to the funeral, check again nearer the time that they still want to go and make sure that someone, such as a relative or family friend, is there to keep a special eye on them.

Click here to find out more!

Brendan adds: "The death of a parent or sibling is one of the most fundamental losses a child will ever face. Involving children in saying goodbye is important in helping them to grieve and begin to rebuild their lives."

Do YOU think children should attend a parent's funeral? Tell us your opinion.

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