Last week I witnessed five children saying goodbye to their grandpa. One of them read a poem at the graveside, and a speaker at the funeral shared their memories of their grandfather. This occasion was especially poignant for me as we said goodbye to my father last year. His grandchildren and his great-grandchildren took his loss hard, but one thing that helped was letting the great-grandchildren put something in the casket. Mostly they put pictures they had drawn. My grandson put a piece of his origami, and my youngest granddaughter made a whole book, because her great-grandfather liked books. Above you see one of the pages of the book. My favorite page said that Big Paw "was soft and gave good hugs."
Many children first experience death when they lose a grandparent or a great-grandparent. Some observers may feel that placing mementos in a casket is a silly or even slightly barbaric practice, but many people -- not just children -- find consolation in doing so. Many caskets now come with a discreet little drawer for items to be placed in. When a grandparent's death is anticipated rather than sudden, creating artwork can help children be better prepared for the death when it comes.
How do you feel about including children in funerals? What activities do you recommend for helping children deal with grief? Leave a comment below.
Photo © S. Adcox
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