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Taking Your Child to a Funeral

"There's no 'right' age when it's appropriate to bring a child to a funeral," says Donna Schuurman, national director of the Dougy Center for Grieving Children & Families, in Portland, OR. If you're struggling to decide, ask yourself:

Is he able to sit quietly? A funeral isn't the place for him to entertain himself with a book or a handheld video game.

Was he close to the person who died? Attending the funeral might help him better understand what's happened and say goodbye. Or there may be other reasons you want to bring your child. For instance, do you want him to hear about his uncle's accomplishments, or get to see extended family?

Does he want to go? Explain what will happen there and what you expect of him. When he understands who he'll see and how he'll need to behave, and is forewarned that people will likely be crying, he may feel less anxious about going. Let him make the final decision  -- and then make a plan so he can step outside (with you or a friend) if the proceedings turn out to be too much for him.