A child funeral is a time of grief, sadness and loss for a parent, but also a chance to say goodbye. This can be an emotional and stressful time for children, and it is important to be able to include them in the planning.
Explain the funeral in a way that is age-appropriate and encourages them to ask questions, even when it’s hard. The key is to explain what will happen so that your child understands and can choose whether or not they want to attend.
Talk about the different things that will happen and how long they will be at each location. Let them know that everyone is going to be sad and that they will see many people crying, but this is normal and a part of the grief process.
If a closed casket is your preference, explain that their sibling will be laying inside it fully dressed and with their arms folded and their eyes shut. Reassure them that their sibling can no longer feel cold, pain or fear and that they are not scared. Be aware that some children may want to view the body of their sibling and this is a decision they will need to make with guidance from adults present (if there are any).
Discuss what you’ll do at the service and the reception/gathering, including the order of events and how long each will last. If they were involved in the planning or decision-making, consider what they wanted to do as a memorial for their loved one. It could be a photo board, a special memento or something else that is familiar and comforting for them.
Have a trusted adult sit with your child during the funeral or memorial service and tell them that it is OK to get up and walk to another room if they need to take a break. This person can help them to calm down if they are feeling restless, and can bring a book or other entertainment for them to keep them busy during this time.
A child’s funeral should be meaningful and a time for them to remember the life of their loved one in a way that feels right to them. You can choose a traditional funeral or a more intimate, private memorial service, either of which will be meaningful for your child.
It is important to remember that your child will be attending a funeral or memorial service for the first time, and it will be a big event for them. This is a new experience for them and they will need support from you.
Prepare your child for the funeral and memorial service, and let them know that they will be surrounded by other children who are also feeling very sad. This is a normal reaction, and children will find it comforting to be surrounded by other people who are sharing this experience.
The funeral can be a very powerful experience for a child, and they will likely have many questions about what is happening, where it is going and who will be at the service. It is important to explain what will happen and to allow your child to ask their own questions, as this can help them deal with their emotions in a healthy way.