Child Funeral Supports and Guidance

A child funeral is an event that no one wants to have but is something that can happen to anyone. Having the right supports and guidance can make it a less stressful experience for everyone involved.

Children will have many questions and need reassurance that everything will be taken care of. It is important that the questions are answered calmly and honestly. This will help put them at ease and allow them to focus on the service rather than worry about what might happen.

Explain the logistics of the service to your child, including where they will be sitting and what will happen during the service. Be sure to include any special requirements like wearing dressier clothes or if a section of seats is reserved for immediate family members. You should also explain why they might need to be quiet and sit still for long stretches of time.

If your child is old enough to understand, ask them if they would like to participate in the service in some way. This could be a reading, singing a song or delivering a tribute speech. If they choose to do this, ask the person in charge of the ceremony if they can accommodate them and if there is a microphone available.

You may wish to talk to your children about their sibling who has died and what the funeral will be like. It can be helpful for children to have a physical reminder of their loved one and if they feel comfortable, they can touch their sibling’s arm or hair. However, if the body feels cold or looks different, it is a good idea to tell your children that their sibling has died and they cannot come back to life.

Depending on your child’s age, it can be helpful to have a trusted friend or relative keep watch over them during the service. This can be especially helpful if you need to leave them temporarily (to view the casket or make a speech for example).

It is also a good idea to bring some sort of book, favourite toy or quiet game for your child to use in case they get restless or overwhelmed during the ceremony. You can also ask a friend to stay after the funeral to spend some one-on-one time with your child.

Remember that your child is a person first and grieving is just as natural for them as it is for you. They will show their grief in their own way and it is important to allow them to do this, even if it means taking them outside for a while or giving them permission to play. It can be a good idea to take them to the funeral home and other locations in advance to familiarize them with what will happen. For further guidance, see our article about How to Comfort a Grieving Child.