How to Honor a Child Funeral

child funeral

When a child dies, the loss is deeply painful for family members of all ages. Many children will attend a funeral service to pay their respects and to help support the bereaved parents. Often, families ask about ways to honor the life of their child. It is important to prepare children for what they may experience at the service and to give them choices that allow them to participate in a way that is meaningful to them.

For younger children, a private viewing may be appropriate. If this is the case, it’s important to explain what they will see and to reassure them that their sibling does not feel cold or pain. Using pictures to demonstrate this is helpful, as are casual and matter-of-fact conversations. Providing clear and honest information, encouraging questions and repeatedly reaffirming that their sibling is not in pain or afraid will help them to make an informed decision. Some families decide to wait until their older children are at least seven years old or older before allowing them to view their sibling’s casket.

The choice of whether or not to include a funeral ceremony is entirely up to the family, but it is recommended that all children, no matter what age, are present for their loved one’s memorial service. During the service, the child may cry or not cry; however, it is important to provide extra attention and affection so that they do not feel neglected or abandoned. If the child feels overwhelmed, a trusted adult should be available to help them leave the service at any time.

Providing children with the opportunity to express their feelings is healthy and allows them to find their own way to cope with the loss. For this reason, some families choose to offer their children the opportunity to speak during a funeral or memorial service. This can be anything from a personal anecdote to a reading of a poem or song that reflects the child’s personality and interests. The decision to involve children in this way is always a personal one and should be made with the support of a grief counselor, if necessary.

It is also common for families to incorporate a personal touch at the funeral or memorial service, which celebrates the unique qualities of their child. Families are often encouraged to bring decorations that reflect the life of their child, such as flowers, teddy bears or special stuffed animals. They may also wish to add a tree seedling, candle or other symbolic item to the proceedings. It is also a great time to ask significant people in the child’s life to share their reflections and memories or read a letter or poem on their behalf. Some families also have a room set up at the venue for kids to play games, color and write. Guests are also often asked to sign an order of service booklet that lists what’s happening during the service and includes photographs.