How to Honor a Child Who Has Died

child funeral

A child funeral is an event to remember the life of a child who has died. Whether the death occurred in utero, shortly after birth or at any age, it is often comforting to celebrate their unique life and say goodbye. While a child funeral is not easy, it can be an opportunity to give a meaningful service and provide closure for the entire family.

If your children will be attending the funeral, let them know in advance that it will be a time to honor their sibling’s life and share memories with their family and friends. They may have questions or ideas about the service and it is important to encourage them to express their thoughts and feelings. If they are comfortable, you can also invite them to participate in the funeral service, read a poem or story, or share a favorite memory during the service. Shyer children can honor their sibling in a private way by placing a small momento in the casket or urn.

During the visitation or funeral, be sure to explain what their sibling’s body will look like. If you plan to have the casket open, it is important for your children to see that their sibling is laying comfortably with their eyes closed and arms folded. If you are going to have a closed casket, you can describe the outfit your child will be wearing (including shoes and socks) and assure them that their sibling cannot feel cold or pain. Regardless of how you choose to honor your child, it is important that you tell them they can ask any questions at any time and that it is completely normal to cry.

When you are planning a ceremony for a child who has died, it is wise to plan ahead so that you can make arrangements for someone to be with your children during the service. Having someone they trust will allow them to focus on their emotions and help them to cope with the situation. This person does not have to be you, and it is even better if they are someone who has known your child for a long time or who knows the whole family.

After the service, it is a good idea to follow up with your children and listen to their thoughts and feelings about their experience. As they grow older, you can continue to talk about their sibling and encourage them to remember the happy times they shared. It is also a good idea to discuss your expectations of them as they grow up so that you are all on the same page regarding how they will honor their sibling’s life. This will help prevent conflict down the road. If you are concerned about your children’s well-being, it is a good idea to ask their teachers or daycare providers for advice. They will likely have a lot of experience dealing with bereaved parents and will be able to give you specific suggestions.