A child funeral is one of the most difficult situations to experience as a parent. Not only do parents have to deal with their own grief, they have to find the strength to set funeral plans in motion. Then they have to explain to their children what will happen.
If you are having trouble coping, it is a good idea to delegate some of the work and tasks to someone else. It can be a family member or close friend to handle the communications, send out invitations and so on. You may also want to have this person be the point of contact for anyone who has questions or needs. During this stressful time it is important to make sure that you get enough rest and eat well. It is also a good idea to be aware that the grief process can be exhausting.
Some children have no choice about attending a funeral. However, if a child does not have to go, they should be given the option of not going. This will help them to understand that they are allowed to have their own feelings about this loss and that it is okay to cry or not cry. It will also help them to come to terms with the death as it will be less traumatic for them to see their loved one at a later date.
Many children have a hard time understanding the concept of death and what happens at a funeral. It is a good idea to talk to your children about the funeral service ahead of time and explain what it will be like. If you are having a burial, you can talk to them about what the casket or urn will look like and that their deceased loved one is not in pain. If you are having a cremation, it is also important to discuss this with your child and to explain that the ashes will be put in a special urn.
Children often feel that they do not belong at a funeral service, especially if they are the only ones there who are not adults. It can be comforting to have a friend or family member sit with them. If they begin to feel overwhelmed, they can ask this person to take them to the lobby or somewhere else for a break. Having a book, favourite toy or quiet game to keep them occupied can also help them feel more comfortable.
It is also helpful to let a child know that there will be a variety of emotions at a funeral service. People will be crying, laughing and even screaming. It is also a good idea to prepare them in advance for the possibility of seeing their deceased loved one being carried into or out of the funeral service, particularly if you are having a viewing and funeral service at the same time. It can be very traumatic for a child to see their deceased loved one being wheeled away and then being buried or placed into an urn.