How to Arrange a Child Funeral

For parents who have suffered the loss of their infant, child or young adult, arranging a funeral can be one of the most difficult tasks they face. While there is no perfect way to plan a service, there are many things that can help alleviate the pressure for parents and their families.

The first step is to make sure that the family can receive a death certificate from the local vital statistics office. Then, the next step is to determine what type of service they wish to hold. Typically, families of young children who were stillborn or died in utero hold private services where family and friends can bid their farewells. School-age children tend to have funerals that are more public, allowing their classmates and teachers to pay their respects.

When talking to your child about their upcoming service, it is important to relate what they will experience. Start with what they can understand, such as what they will need to wear, where the service will take place and who will be there. It is helpful to remind them that they will need to be quiet and sit still for long stretches of time during the service.

It is also a good idea to have an adult who is known and trusted by the child to go with them during the funeral or memorial service. This person can distract them or take them out of the service if they get restless or bored. They can also reassure them that it is OK to cry and that it will help them heal.

Some children may want to attend their sibling’s funeral, while others will not. It is perfectly normal for children to not want to see their dead sibling and they should not be forced to do so. It is a difficult decision for all parents to make but it is always best to allow children the option to go and then to support them whatever their choice is.

If a casket is open, it will be important to talk with your child about what they will see. You can explain how their loved one will be dressed and in a box, but you can also reassure them that their sibling is not suffering or afraid. Explain that there are other ways to remember and say goodbye besides attending the funeral, such as visiting the graveside and lighting candles.

If a cremation is planned, it will be just as important to talk with your child about what they may see at the service. You can explain that their loved one will be in a special urn, which can be kept with them at home or displayed in a memorial room. You can also reassure them that their sibling does not feel cold or pain and encourage them to ask questions. You can also invite them to visit the crematorium or cemetery with you and their other family members. This can be a very moving and memorable experience.