How To Comfort An Angry Child At A Funeral

Death can bring on a vast variety of emotions, and most people experience all possible emotions throughout the grieving process. It's hard enough for grown-ups who have had many years to develop coping skills and who may have experienced past losses. However, for children, it can seem like the end of the world, and they may be confused, afraid, and angry all at once. If you notice that a child in your life is angry at a funeral, you may feel helpless, but there are small things you can try that may be a big comfort to a sad and angry little one.

Engage a Child with Open-Ended Questions

Adults know that anger is a temporary emotion that will pass like any other emotion. However, for a child, it may seem like a permanent state of mind, and that can further frighten a child after a big loss. If an angry child can talk about their anger, they may be able to get rid of it more easily. Try to get an angry child to open up about their feelings by asking the following open-ended questions:

  • Would you like to talk about what your happiest memory of (the name of the deceased)?
  • What's the most comforting thing someone has said to you so far?
  • Do you want to talk about what this has been like for you?
  • What is something that could be done or said to make you feel better?

You can improvise and ask any open-ended questions that seem right for the child in your life. The question should be simple and thought-provoking. The questions may help get child's mind off their anger for a moment to let other emotions in as they discuss what's going on with them. Simply being able to talk things out can be comforting.

Offer Constructive Ways for a Child to Express Their Emotions

When a child is angry at the funeral they're attending, they may miss a lot of important things about the memorial service. If it is the funeral of a parent or someone significant in their life, this can be something that they regret later. Try to help the child before the funeral by allowing them to get out their anger and other emotions in constructive ways. Offer the follow things:

  • A guided art pad where the child can draw what they are feeling.
  • A completed scrapbook where the child can look at mementos of the lost loved one.
  • A book to help the child deal with grief such as "Goodnight Mister Tom" or "I Heard Your Daddy Died".

Finally, keep in mind that there are no miracle cures for anger, especially at a funeral. Simply try to comfort the child and extend your kindness. Beyond that, there is not much you can control at a funeral service. Extending kindness to a child in need can make a big difference, even if it may not be apparent at the time.