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On the last track we discussed involving children in funerals. The four topics we discussed are how funerals help children accept the reality of death, what if the body isn’t presentable, preparing a child for a funeral, and when not to take a child to a funeral.
On this track we will discuss burials and cremation. Three challenges we will discuss are how to explain a burial, how to explain a cremation, and spending time with a body prior to cremation. As we discuss these three topics, you can decide if the information is applicable to clients you are treating.
#1 How to Explain a Burial
Merle stated, "Justin wants to take the casket home, so he can check on his granddad from time to time." I stated, "Consider reminding Justin what happens to animals when they die. Let Justin know that decay spreads disease. In talking to Justin, you can remind him that putting a body in a pretty satin lined casket is not enough."
When Merle spoke with Justin, he stated, "We have to do more than put granddad in a casket. We’re going to take good care of him. To do that we need to close his casket and seal it. Then, we’ll take it to the place where they keep dead bodies. Do you know what that place is called, Justin?" Justin knew that the place bodies were kept was called a cemetery. Merle then stated, "At the cemetery, they will put granddad in a grave dug out of the ground. They’ll bury granddad in a nice spot where we can visit as often as we like."
Are you treating a grieving child like Justin who could benefit from having the purpose of a burial explained to them?
#2 How to Explain Cremation
I stated to Joan, "First, consider explaining to Jordan and Miranda that cremation is not the burning of a body in a fire. Rather, the body is put through heat intense enough to turn the body to ash." Joan stated to Jordan, "The flames won’t actually touch daddy."
Next I stated, "You may find it productive to inform Jordan about what is done with the ashes. He may want to see them. If so, decide if it is okay for Jordan to see the ashes. Consider looking at the ashes yourself first. Periodically, bone fragments will be visible."
At a later session, Joan stated, "I felt that Jordan could see the ashes. After he looked at them, he asked what we were going to do with them. I had planned on keeping them, but Miranda brought up scattering the ashes. Jordan decided the ashes should be scattered at his dad’s favorite fishing spot."
Do you agree that helping grieving children understand cremation can help them to better accept the reality of death?
#3 Spending Time with a Body Prior to Cremation
Would you agree that spending time with a body prior to cremation can help confirm the reality of the death for a grieving child?
On this track we have discussed burials and cremation. Three topics we discussed are how to explain a burial, how to explain a cremation, and spending time with a body prior to cremation.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Schonfeld, D. J., & Demaria, T. P. (2018). The role of school psychologists in the support of grieving children. School Psychology Quarterly, 33(3), 361–362.
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