Deciding whether to include children at funerals can be a difficult choice at a time when emotions are running high and answers seem unavailable. There are no clear cut answers to whether children should be included or what age a child might appropriately attend a funeral, but there are some guidelines.
Very young children won’t have enough awareness to be upset by the deceased or the grief of attendees. From that standpoint, a child needn’t be excluded, however, a young child may not have the patience of a wake or a funeral service and may be disruptive. Their needs may prevent a parent from participating. Elementary-aged children often have enough self-control to limit their needs and distraction, but have a greater awareness of their surroundings. Children this age may have a strong emotional response to viewing the deceased or being around mourners.
At this age, and for middle schoolers, many recommend taking the child’s preference into account. It is appropriate to discuss proceedings at an age-appropriate level and be responsive to a child’s fears and desire to stay away, or their need to say goodbye and be a part of funeral proceedings. Parents may also want to take into account the child’s relationship with the deceased and whether he or she will be confused without a chance to view the deceased and say goodbye.
For additional considerations, check out this article on grieving children.