Taking my child to the cemetery: at what age, how do I prepare?

On the occasion of All Saints' Day in particular, families go to cemeteries to pay homage to their deceased loved ones. At what age can you go to a cemetery with children? At what age can they attend a funeral? Answers and advice from Sophie Millot, psychologist.

  Taking my child to the cemetery: at what age, how do I prepare?

Traditionally celebrated on November 2, the Day of the Dead takes place the day after All Saints Day, and is an opportunity for Catholics to put flowers on the graves of their loved ones. Do you want to go there with your family? Know that a cemetery has nothing to worry about for a child but that it is necessary to explain to him what this place represents and how one should behave there.

How do you prepare a child to go to the cemetery?

You can tell him, if he is old enough to understand that it is a place where the bodies of the deceased rest but also that it is a place of memory which allows you to gather while thinking of the missing people. You can also explain to him that you can go to a cemetery on the occasion of the feast of the dead, a notion that will speak to him, or freely when you simply want to think of a deceased loved one. You can also explain to him that he can meditate there as he wishes: by simply thinking of the missing person, by remembering memories in common or by saying a prayer if he has faith.

Is death really foreign to children?

' It all depends on age. Until about age 5, children do not have an accurate understanding of death. The fact that death is irreversible that it concerns all living beings and therefore that it is part of life, does not really occur until around 8 or 9 years old “, explains Sophie Millot, psychologist.

And yet...

From an early age, children are confronted with the notion of death. The playful and entertaining world of childhood is not lacking in direct or indirect references, and from an early age, for example, toddlers learn to speak with the dead candle of In the moonlight . And of all motherless princesses , Passing by all the wicked who perish in the end , not to mention the disastrous story of The little girl with matches , allusions to death are legion and children are not spared from this reality. A familiar notion, but not necessarily concrete. Failing to understand it, they thus assimilate that it signifies an absence, most of the time sad, but sometimes also wholesome....

At what age should a child be taken to a cemetery?

There is no real age and it is necessary to take more into account the character and the desires of the child , which must however be accompanied. A small child will not necessarily understand what a cemetery is, but he will be happy to accompany his parents there because he will perceive this as a mark of trust. Conversely, he risks resenting them if they systematically go there without him. Whatever the child's age, an adult must be present to answer the child's questions about death, deal with his emotions or go home if he feels uncomfortable or finds the time too long.

There isn't really an age to take a child to the cemetery or have them attend a funeral. It depends on his character, his maturity, and his desire.

At what age should a child be taken to a funeral?

' There is no age limit for attending funerals. It all depends on the relationship the child has with the deceased. , but it is always preferable to integrate a child by asking him whether or not he wishes to come. Then you have to explain to him how this moment will unfold. ', explains Sophie Millot. If your child refuses to attend the funeral of a loved one, do not force him to do so and help him say goodbye to the deceased, by placing a letter or a drawing on his grave a few days after the ceremony.

How do you explain a funeral to a child?

No need to go into details. Explain to your child simply that a burial is a moment that is certainly sad but allows us to say goodbye to the loved one, to reunite and remember. Also tell him that you can express your sorrow but that he should not worry about it because it is a natural step of the grief . Do not hesitate to explain to him that everyone expresses their sadness in their own way and that you will not blame him if he does not show emotion.

What rules of behavior to tell him to follow in a cemetery?

A child naturally adopts a respectful behavior in a cemetery because he is aware of the solemnity of the place . However, you can remind the youngest that obviously you shouldn't run in a cemetery, stay calm and don't talk too much. You can also explain to them that it is necessary to respect the deceased who rest there and therefore not to walk on their graves.

Source journaldesfemmes.fr