Child Funerals for Children

Child funerals are a special way to celebrate and remember a child who has died. They allow family members and friends to say goodbye in a meaningful and appropriate way. For children, this can be a very healing experience. However, for some children it may be too difficult and they may choose not to attend the funeral. When this happens, it is important to give the child a choice and to explain what will happen in language they understand. It is also important to provide reassurance that there are other ways to remember and say goodbye besides attending the funeral.

For children who will be attending the funeral, it is a good idea to visit the funeral home before the service. This gives children the opportunity to see their sibling and to ask questions. It is also helpful to prepare a written statement about the child, which can be read at the service. It is often helpful to include a photograph of the child as well.

Explain to your child that their sibling will be lying in a casket, fully dressed and with their eyes closed. Some children may be more comfortable if you describe the entire outfit, including shoes and socks.

Children will be curious about their sibling’s body and may want to touch it. It is important to reassure your children that touching their sibling is a normal part of grieving, but it is a choice that each child will make for themselves. Some children may prefer not to touch the body, while others will want to gently stroke their sibling’s arm or hair. If your children are not sure whether they will be able to handle the experience of visiting their sibling’s body, consider assigning a friend or relative to be their buddy throughout the day. This person can be a source of comfort and support for them, especially if you are not able to be with them.

You can use decorations that reflect your child’s life and personality. For example, a photo collage of their favorite places and events can be a beautiful tribute. You might also use things that they liked such as teddy bears, balloons or ribbons to decorate the funeral home and memorial ceremony site. You might include a personalized order of ceremony booklet that lists the events and people to be honored at the service. These can be handwritten at home or professionally printed brochures.

Many families find that talking to their children about their deceased sibling’s death and planning the funeral is a comforting way to cope. If you need help to talk with your children, there are many books and professionals available who can help. In addition, some hospices and hospitals offer sibling grief support groups. It is important to give your children a chance to express their feelings. If they become overwhelmed, it is a good idea to have a safe place for them, such as a hallway or backyard, where they can escape to when necessary.