How to Hold a Child Funeral

The decision to hold a child funeral may be painful, but many parents find comfort in creating a special ceremony that honors their baby. Some families choose to include a religious element while others choose a non-religious celebration. Whether you want to include a naming ceremony, family photos, music, or other mementos, there are countless ways to create a unique and cherished event.

It is important to prepare children for what they can expect at a funeral or memorial service, especially if it will be the first time they have been to one. It is a good idea to help them understand that people will be crying, some uncontrollably, and that it’s OK to cry, too. A clear description of the services can also allay any anxieties and worries they might have, like why the casket is covered and what it will look like.

Depending on the age of your child and their level of emotional maturity, you might want to consider assigning a trusted friend or family member to be their companion during the visitation, wake, funeral, or burial services. This person can be there to answer their questions, reassure them, and give them extra attention if they need it. They can even offer structure and activities if the child’s attention span begins to waiver.

At the funeral, children can often become distracted by what is happening around them or by the presence of adults who are crying. It is a good idea to provide them with a booklet that lists what’s happening during the services so they have a visual to refer to if they become disengaged. You might also want to consider having a lullaby or soothing song played in the background to calm the child or give them something to focus on other than the grief-stricken adults around them.

During the burial service, you might want to invite children to scatter flower petals or teddy bears over the grave site. You can have a special photo displayed at the graveside that they can identify and touch as a way to make them feel included. You might also want to include a prayer or poem that your child wrote for their sibling.

You might consider inviting a close friend or family member who shares your child’s interests or background to lead the service. This can help them connect to your child’s memory in a personal way that feels meaningful to you and your entire community of loved ones. It is also a good idea to designate someone who can take over communications with the public if you are feeling overwhelmed or exhausted.