How to Arrange a Child Funeral

Arranging a child funeral can be an extremely emotional and traumatic experience. It is understandable that parents feel under enormous pressure to get everything right as it may be the only chance they have to say goodbye. The process can also be overwhelming as many parents feel emotionally and physically exhausted from the sheer amount of work involved in organising and attending funeral services. For this reason, some choose to leave the funeral services early or opt for a memorial service afterwards rather than a wake or reception at home or a hotel.

It is important to discuss the differences between a funeral service and memorial service with your children in advance. Although these ceremonies are similar, the difference is that a funeral service takes place before burial or cremation and has the body present at the ceremony while a memorial service can take place any time after death. This is important as the choice of whether or not to have an open casket is a key decision to make when arranging a funeral for your child.

For older children, it is a good idea to give them the option of choosing whether or not to attend the funeral. However, it is important to explain what will happen at the service and that they are free to change their mind later if they choose not to go.

The best way to do this is to answer their questions honestly but sensitively. If you are unsure about what to say, consider using a child-friendly book or talking to a bereavement counsellor.

It can be helpful to explain that the body will not look like it did when the person was alive and that they will probably see marks, scars or swelling. Depending on your child’s age, you can also help them understand that their sibling’s body will no longer work and cannot move, eat or talk anymore. It is also important to let them know that they are welcome to touch their sibling’s body but if they choose not to, it is perfectly okay.

Likewise, you should explain to your child that they will see people experiencing a wide variety of emotions at the funeral. This is normal and it is important to help your child understand that it’s okay to cry and that it’s also okay to laugh.

You can also discuss what will happen to their sibling’s body after the ceremony. If they are buried, you can discuss the possibility of them having their own gravestone or a headstone placed in a special place at the cemetery. If they are cremated, you can also talk about how the ashes will be handled. This could include burying the ashes, scattering them or keeping a small urn at home.

It is also important to tell your child that they will not be forced to attend the funeral and that they can stay with a family member or friend if they decide they do not want to go. This will ensure they feel supported in their decision and that they do not resent being made to attend.