When a close family member dies, it's important for those left behind to go through a grieving process. Usually, this involves coming together to hold a funeral in memory of the deceased person. The funeral is an important time to share memories and say goodbye, but it can also be an upsetting and emotional experience. If your child doesn't want to attend the funeral of their parent, sibling, grandparent or other close relative, here are some ways to explore their feelings and help them grieve.

Don't Force Your Child to Attend

No child should ever be forced to attend a funeral. If you feel it's important for the child to attend, explain that the funeral is an opportunity for the family to come together to say goodbye and that you don't want your child to be left out. Avoid using guilt or anger to persuade the child to attend, as this can lead to resentment in the child.

Explain What to Expect

Sometimes, children are intimidated by the idea of attending a funeral because they don't know what to expect. Take the time to explain every step in the process to the child so there are no shocks or surprises in store. Explain that the funeral directors will pick up the body from the hospital and bring it to the funeral home, where it will be washed, dressed and placed in a casket. Describe the planned service in detail, letting the child know how long it will last, where it will be held and who will be speaking.

Give Your Child Options

Some children may be comfortable attending the memorial part of a funeral, but they may not want to view the body or gather around the grave for the burial. Other kids prefer to skip the service completely, but they may be open to attending a gathering after the funeral at a family member's home. If your child wants to attend only part of the funeral, allow them to do so without pressuring them into being present for the whole event.

If Your Child Refuses to Attend

If your child decides not to attend the funeral of a close relative, try to give them other opportunities to express their grief. This may involve visiting the grave to lay flowers or looking through photographs together to bring back happy memories of the deceased. Don't push your child into talking about their feelings if they are still too painful, but be prepared to listen when your child is ready to talk.

Try also talking with funeral directors about different options that could make your child feel more comfortable.