Helping Your Kids Say Goodbye to a Grandparent
If your kids are lucky enough, they’ll get to spend several years enjoying their grandparents’ company. However, since their grandparents are probably the oldest family members in your children’s lives, it’s likely that they’ll have to say goodbye to these beloved family members sooner than they’d like.
For some kids, their grandparents’ deaths are the first they’ve experienced, which can make the funeral and the events leading up to it particularly rough. But if you’re dealing with the death of your own parent, you might have a hard time knowing how to comfort your kids and help them through this difficult time.
Below, we give parents a few key tips that can help them ease their kids through the death of a beloved grandparent. The experience will be challenging for your kids no matter what, but a few tips can help your children understand the grieving process and hang on to their favourite memories while they mourn the loss of their dear relative.
Explain What’s Happening
Younger kids’ first experiences with death can be hard for parents to navigate. You might struggle with what to tell your child and how to explain what happened.
Because every child is different, there’s no perfect answer to how to talk to your kids about their grandparent’s death. You’ll need to decide how much and what to say based on the child’s age and personality, but no matter what, you can follow a few key rules:
- Don’t lie. Instead, use straightforward language — “Grandma has passed away. That means you won’t see her anymore, but you can always remember her in your heart.”
- Explain what will happen with your parent’s remains. Children may be unnerved by the idea of cremating or burying their grandparent’s body, so discuss why we do this (“so we always have a space to visit her” or “so we can keep some of him with us always”).
- Understand that different children will react differently. One child might throw a tantrum, another could cry and another could act fine for several days and suddenly melt down a week later. Give your child time and space for them to process and react in their own way.
As long as you follow these tips, there isn’t a right or wrong way to talk about death with your kids — just stay attuned to their emotions as well as your own while you navigate this process together.
Involve Kids in the Funeral
This piece of advice might not work for everyone — a more introverted or traumatized child might prefer to sit quietly in the back of the room, keeping their mourning process to themselves. However, some children feel closer to their grandparents if they’re allowed to participate in the ceremony. Rituals like funerals also help kids feel a sense of closure.
Every funeral and family is different, but a few options for involving your children in the funeral can include:
- Having older grandchildren participate as pallbearers if you’re burying your parent
- Letting children help pick out sprays of flowers to decorate the coffin
- Encouraging younger children to create something — a simple flower arrangement, a piece of art or a small photo collection — that celebrates their grandparent and can be displayed at the funeral
Having some amount of responsibility in the funeral ceremony can make your children feel closer to their grandparent by letting them express their love in a tangible, helpful way.
Honour Your Parent With Burial or Cremation
Choosing a customised coffin or beautiful urn does more than honour your parent’s wishes and legacy. It also shows your child that their grandparent’s unique personality and care is something to celebrate, honour and remember, even in death.
If you’re looking for a way to honour your parent after their passing, Cremations Only is here to help. Get in touch today to learn more about our funeral services.