A child funeral is one of the most difficult and overwhelming experiences you will ever face as a parent. It’s no surprise that grieving parents often turn to friends and family for help and support during the days, weeks and months that follow their loss.
A funeral is a sacred ceremony that can be both painful and uplifting. It offers the opportunity for bereaved children to say goodbye in a way that is meaningful to them.
The decision about whether or not to let a child attend a funeral service is always up to the parents. However, if your child is too young or too frightened to go, it may be best to leave them at home.
Explaining what will happen at the funeral in a way that your child understands is important for them to feel safe and comfortable. This includes letting them know what they will see and hear.
Ask the person in charge of the funeral to discuss with your child what to expect, such as the music or readings that will be part of the ceremony. If they have a specific idea of what they would like, you can work with them to make the ceremony more meaningful.
In addition, it can be a good idea to bring toys or activities with you to keep your child occupied during the funeral ceremony. You can also take them to the crematorium or cemetery beforehand so they can familiarize themselves with the place and the ceremony.
If your child is old enough to participate in the ceremony, you can invite them to contribute something to the service, such as a prayer or poem. Or they might be able to offer a special remembrance card for the deceased’s loved ones.
You can also ask them to help decorate the venue or give out sympathy cards to guests. Involving your child in the planning of a funeral ceremony can be an especially comforting experience for them, and it will allow them to be more present during the actual event.
Consider a funeral buddy for your child to accompany them during the services and help with any of their needs. Choose someone who you trust, who won’t mind leaving the funeral ceremony, and who can be available for a few hours to support your child.
It’s important for the child’s safety that you select a buddy who can stay with them throughout the service and be available if they need to leave to go home or be picked up. This will provide the support they need during this time of grief while you can focus on attending to your own needs.
Another helpful strategy for supporting children who are grieving a sibling’s death is to prepare a memory box for them to put their sibling’s things in. This will give them a place to store their memories, and it will help them feel like they have something to hold onto in the years ahead.