Chapter 3: Funerals, memorials, and other rituals
Viewing the body
I heard Thomas tell his friends that your legs are cut off when you die. When I asked him about this, he said: "Yeah, Mum, when I saw Uncle Brad in the casket they'd only put in the top half."
If it’s possible, children benefit when they’re given the option to view the body one last time.
- They often imagine the body to look far scarier than it does.
- Viewing the body in a safe and supportive environment can help them understand the concept of death by making it more real.
If a child would rather not see the body, they should never be forced.
Preparing your child to see the body
If the body will be at the service, clearly explain this is the last time they’ll be with the body. If the casket is closed or not at the service, most funeral homes are more than willing to provide a private viewing at the request of immediate family.
- Let your child know that the body doesn’t work anymore and will never work again.
- Let them know that the face and the body may look different than they’re used to. The skin may be lighter, and may have make-up on.
The body and the head
When adults talk about the body, some children take this to mean there is no head. Be sure to explain that the head is part of the body.