Yes, IF the child wants to attend the funeral. Depending on the interest and age of the child, he or she may even want to participate in honoring a beloved grandparent by participating in some part of the service.
No, IF the child does not want to attend or if there are no adults available or in a position to attend to the child during the service hours.
Children who will attend a service should be told what to expect. If the casket will be open, they should be told in simple factual terms what their grandparent will look and feel like. They should know what adults will do and should be given the choice to approach the casket or know what they may do if they choose not to approach the casket. Before going to the funeral home children should be given an opportunity to ask any questions they have about the service or what will take place.
Very young children may be in attendance, not because they wish to attend, but because the adults in the family are all in attendance and there is no one to mind the children. In this case parents should talk with their funeral director in advance about what facilities are available for children. Many funeral homes provide play space, a video area or a break room where the younger children may be taken and entertained during the service. Parents should work out child minder duties among themselves well ahead of the service. Children should not be left unattended in the funeral home.
It is also important to consider how long the children will be in attendance and to bring quiet entertainment or snacks if they will be needed. Children should be assigned a go-to person so they know who can help them find a restroom or answer a question should they need help.
The adult who will be responsible for answering a child’s questions should be prepared to answer in the simplest of terms and then ask if the information provided has answered the question. You want to give just the right amount of information, not too much or too little. It’s a bit like the old story of the older brother who when his new sibling is brought home from the hospital asks, “Where did the baby come from?” The child in the story was looking for a location answer (the hospital) not a reproductive lesson.
Death is a part of life, all living beings eventually die. Regardless of if a child attends a grandparent’s funeral or not, the child should be told of the death and have an opportunity to ask questions. When asked and provided with the information they need to decide, children will let you know if they wish to attend a funeral.