When a loved one passes away, parents often struggle with the decision of whether or not their children should attend the funeral. They fear that the kids may be traumatized by an experience that pushes them to confront death head on, and they want to spare their children from the grieving process as much as possible.
However, children are very perceptive, often more so than adults, and putting up a shield as a means of protection may actually be harmful. They can tell when something is wrong, and when they lose a loved one, such as a grandparent, they feel the loss regardless of whether they attend the funeral or not. But when parents try to build up a wall between their children and their grief, they can end up denying the child access to proper grieving channels.
It is often said that the funeral is not for the dead but for the living, that it is part of the long process of grieving and healing from loss. Parents can do a great disservice to their children by not allowing them to learn that process early in life. Kids who do not know how to properly deal with their feelings are more likely to internalize them, which often leads to destructive behavior later in life.
Furthermore, children need to know that what they feel matters and is acknowledged. Allowing them to attend funerals for lost loved ones is a great first step in teaching them that it is okay to grieve openly and that their grief is just as important as that of the adults.
For more information on helping children deal with death, check out this Huff Post video, which provides insight on how to prepare children for loss and help them through it.