In short, yes.

  • Children can often bring a sense of levity and joy to a shiva or visitation. Seeing a baby smile and talking with a child can momentarily ease the family’s pain. Be aware though that if your child becomes fussy, do not overstay your welcome.
  • Simply showing up is often the hardest for adults. Give kids the practice and get them comfortable with showing compassion and not fearing uncomfortable situations.
  • A shiva or visitation, unlike a funeral, is less formal and is a good opportunity to show children that death is a reality of life. It is not something to hide from but with time, we must get comfortable with.
  • It is important to stress to kids that going to a shiva or visitation is not about them. It is not a time to ask for a snack or let you know that they are tired. It is about the mourners and being there for them.
  • At the same time don’t knock them over the head with your well-intended messages. Don’t make them do something you see is really hard for them. Simply showing up with you to make a condolence call is a great start.  If you see that they are terribly uncomfortable, make it a brief visit and ensure to tell your child/children when you leave the house that you are proud of them for doing a nice thing for someone else.
  • The best way to teach empathy is by practicing it. A visit to a shiva or visitation is the perfect opportunity to teach this valuable lesson. Compassionate parents ultimately raise compassionate children. It is as simple as that.
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