If you have a child, attending a child funeral is a great way to make them feel included. Although children can’t understand all the details of the funeral, older ones will remember it fondly and appreciate the experience. If your child is young, consider having a caregiver attend the funeral with you to keep them entertained and occupied. Make sure to inform the funeral organizers of your child’s needs so that they can make necessary arrangements.
If you are not sure how to arrange the service, there are many resources to help you make your child’s funeral special. One resource is a booklet published by Red Nose Grief and Loss Services, which includes helpful ideas for the funeral service. You may wish to make your child’s headstone personal by choosing a poem or biblical verse for the memorial. Then, you may want to include an image of your child, if you have one. A headstone will usually take a couple of months to complete, so wait until the ground has thawed from the winter before you start making arrangements.
A baby memorial service is typically smaller and more private. The service can also include a graveside scattering ceremony. After the service, the family and friends can gather for a reception, fellowship meal, or meal at the graveside. The majority of child funerals take place in a church, but some families choose to hold a private service. For older children, a public service is more appropriate. So, be sure to discuss the options with your child’s family and the funeral director.
If you aren’t sure how to conduct the service, ask the parents what happened and how the child died. Make sure to acknowledge the child’s life and use their name as much as possible. If they had a name, encourage the family to do the same. They may want to actively participate in the ceremony. However, you must be respectful of their wishes. You don’t want to make them feel like they are being ignored. And while they will be grieving, it is important to remember to honor their wishes.
While a child’s behavior may be disruptive to a funeral service, parents need to remember that they are a different age than their parent. If your child is unable to focus for a long period of time, it may be a good idea to get a babysitter or leave the baby at home for the duration of the service. While some parents do not realize this, it may be in their best interests to leave the crying child at home while they attend the service.
Some families find it comforting to involve a child in the service planning process. After all, they may have very strong opinions or preferences about the type of service they want. And involving the child in the process of planning a child funeral may also remove some of the mystery and give them some control. They may even feel better about the entire process. So, consider all of these factors before you make any decisions. A child will be comforted by talking about the process of death and memorialization.