How To Prepare A Child For Their First Visit To A Mausoleum

The grief process for children can be even more complicated than what adults experience during periods of mourning. According to the National Alliance for Grieving Children, children need to know the truth during this difficult time. They need to be allowed to visit the grave or mausoleum of a loved one as a healthy way of mourning the loss. When preparing a child for their visit to a mausoleum, follow these tips to ensure that the visit best serves them, and that the cemetery and mausoleum are respected.

Ask a Child How They Are Feeling

In order to know that your child is ready for a visit to the mausoleum, you need to understand how they are feeling. You may want to schedule a trip to a family therapist where the three of you can discuss the situation before you take your child to visit the tribute to their lost loved one. Some open-ended questions you may ask your child to gain insights into how they are feeling include the following:

  • If what you were feeling inside was an animal, which animal would it be, and how would the animal express those emotions?
  • When did you last feel misunderstood when you tried to say or do something? Can you tell me more about that?
  • Do you any of your friends go to the cemetery to see lost loved ones?
  • What do you wish more people understood about how you are feeling?

How your child answers these questions can inspire greater questions and more in-depth discussions. Ultimately, trust yourself to know whether your child is ready for this visit.

Dress Up a Bit

While you don't have to wear formal wear to a mausoleum, you can help prepare a child for the fact that the visit is important when both you and the child dress up a bit for it. Clothes that one would wear to a work place gathering or an end-of-school-year party should do it. Hair should be fixed nicely so that there are no tangles or messy styles, and no summer footwear like flip flops or sandals should be worn no matter what the season.

Express the Importance of Respecting Graves and Mausoleums

Oftentimes mausoleums will be located side by side with a traditional cemetery. If this is the situation, your child may have lots of questions about one choice over the other. No matter whether you are walking through the graveyard or within the mausoleum, be sure that the child knows that a cemetery is a sacred place. Speak about the importance of not touching or removing any flowers or other gifts that people have left near mausoleums or on graves. You can check out for more information on mausoleums and etiquette.

Finally, keep in mind that a child may have mixed feelings about the visit. Upon seeing the deceased person's name on the mausoleum, the child may have an emotional outburst, or they may get upset at other times simply because of grief or being on the grounds of a cemetery. Try to provide understanding, compassion, and support whenever sad feelings come up. This is an ongoing process, and the mausoleum is just one stop on the journey of grief.