When a child dies, parents often have to make arrangements for a funeral or memorial service for that young person. Depending on your beliefs and the wishes of the deceased, these services can range from a full-blown funeral to just a small service at the graveside. Children will have to see the body during either the visitation period or the funeral, so it’s important to prepare them in advance. This is also a good time to discuss your religious beliefs with them.
You may have to remind them that people grieve differently and it’s okay for everyone to cry. You should also tell them that if they are not comfortable seeing their sibling in the casket or if they feel like they want to leave during the funeral, it’s okay to do so. You can also give them a specific adult they can go to for help if they need it during the services.
Unlike adults, who typically wear their emotions on their sleeve, kids tend to show their emotions in small doses. This is normal and will allow them to process the death at their own level. If they start to feel overwhelmed, it’s a good idea to activate your pre-arranged plan and have someone remove them from the situation until they are ready to return.
It’s a good idea to have your child attend the funeral services with a buddy, or you can designate another trusted adult to be in charge of helping them during the service. This way, if they begin to feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable, they will have an adult they can talk to who will be able to help them navigate through the service.
The decor at a child funeral is usually much different from that of an adult funeral. For example, many parents choose to celebrate the life of their child by decorating with their favorite teddy bears and balloons instead of flowers. This decor also allows your child to see their loved ones who came to the service celebrating their life as well.
A funeral or memorial service is a time for family and friends to come together to remember the deceased. This is a great time for you to talk to your children about their sibling and share memories you have with them. You can even consider allowing your child to participate in the ceremony in some way, such as reading a poem or saying goodbye in a special way.
Your child will likely have a lot of questions during this time. Be honest and straightforward with them and try to answer their questions as best you can. This is a difficult and sensitive time for all of you so it’s best to avoid giving them false information. Also, if they are exhibiting regressive behavior or a change in their attitude, it is important to seek professional help for them as soon as possible. Children who have a mental illness can have relapses after their loss and it’s vital to address those issues right away.