Death can be a difficult subject for children to grapple with and, as parents, it’s important to support them when attending the funeral of a loved one. 90% of funeral services held today have loved ones who cannot attend. If your family is able to go, and your children will be accompanying you, here are some tips to consider.

1. Prepare Your Children for the Funeral

Before heading to the funeral, it’s important to have a talk with them about death. Regardless of your child’s age, it’s important to be gentle but frank about this reality. Try using age-appropriate terms, and be gentle but make it clear that your loved one is not returning. Emphasizing that the deceased is in a better place or without any pain can also make the process easier.

If your child has already experienced the passing of a pet, you can explain it along the lines of “They’ve gone off to play with Spot and keep him company.” Using examples like this can make it easier for children to understand and feel okay with their loved one’s passing.

2. Provide Information, Love, and Support

Be open to any questions your child may have and be there for them if they are grieving. Older kids may want to understand more about how their loved one died, and presenting them with honest facts can help them understand the situation better. For instance, if your loved one died from complications due to Legionnaires’ disease, you can explain to them what it is and how many people are affected every year. Between 8,000 and 18,000 people are hospitalized with Legionnaires’ disease yearly in the U.S., and in many cases it is fatal.

You can then use information like this to better inform your children. If your loved one died of a disease like this, you may even talk to your children about volunteering or donating to a charity that works towards cures or treatments. This can be a good way to let them focus on helping others through their grief and turning a negative into something positive.

3. Answer Your Children’s Questions

Your children may have questions as how to how a loved one passed away. For instance, if your loved one died of a medical condition that runs in the family, older kids and teens may benefit from an honest discussion about the importance of screenings and early treatment. In the case of breast cancer, you can emphasis how check-ups are important and instruct them on how to perform self-checks as they get older. Use this opportunity to grow together, not just emotionally or spiritually, but also through education.

4. Take Breaks During Your Trip

If you’re traveling for the funeral, make sure to take lots of breaks to keep your kids motivated. Most break periods when driving long distances last about 30 minutes. Use this as an opportunity to see new places, stretch your legs, and just talk outside of the car. You may even want to share light-hearted stories of your loved one along the way to emphasize the importance of keeping them alive in your memory.

Death can be difficult for everyone, especially kids who may not understand what’s going on. Remember that the most important thing to do is communicate with them and be open. Don’t shut down the conversation or brush off their grief. With this in mind, you can help them grow to understand and feel better about the passing of their loved one.