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One year later ... helping kids remember

Funerals can be confusing for children. They have lots of questions and - very often - unspoken fears. "Where's grandma?" "Why can't I see grandpa?" "Why is mommy crying?" 
How parents/grownups respond can make all the difference to a child and help grownups heal.

I was recently asked if it's appropriate to bring a child to the cemetery for an unveiling (the dedication of a headstone, usually one year after the burial). 

Here's my answer:

While there are no proscriptions against children going to a cemetery for a funeral - it all depends on the maturity of the child - most parents prefer to let kids stay elsewhere or with someone else during burials.

But an unveiling is a more benign and frequently less-traumatic experience for immediate mourners. A year or so has passed, emotions are less raw, and there's a certain sense of loving resignation.

With all that, the answer is "it's up to you." The questions to ponder are:

1. Can the child understand that mom/dad may feel sadness because someone has died?
2. Can the child express her/his own confusion?
3. Can mom/dad (more important) understand that the child might be confused and potentially frightened?
4. Can mom/dad feel comfortable talking to their child about the loss of someone they loved?

If the answers to the questions indicate that all will be uncomfortable but OK and not traumatic, then there's no reason not to take a child to the cemetery for an unveiling. 

May the memories of our loved ones be a blessing.


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