The death of a child is a devastating loss. The thought of a funeral is a daunting task that no parent wants to undertake, but it can be an important part of the grieving process and help a family find closure and healing.
Children often have special wishes, so it is a good idea to ask them what they would like at the funeral service or reception. They may want certain music played, or they might prefer a certain type of food to be served at the reception.
When talking to your child about the funeral, discuss as much as possible in terms they can understand. This means letting them know what will happen, who will be there and how long everyone will be there. It is also a good idea to let them know that they can change their mind at any time and it is up to them whether they decide to attend or not.
It is a good idea to take along a favorite toy or book to occupy your child so they aren’t bored during the service. You could also ask someone who is close to your child to keep an eye on them so they don’t get overwhelmed and upset.
You might want to invite a friend or relative to sit with your child during the ceremony and read their favorite story, book, poem, lullaby or song. These readings can help them feel involved in the proceedings and offer a chance to talk about their feelings.
Have a child-friendly order of service booklet available at the funeral so everyone knows what’s happening and has something to hold on to. This can be a simple document that you’ve created at home or a professionally-printed one.
If you’re a parent, don’t forget to take your own copy so that you can refer back to it for support. You may also want to include some pictures of your child and their siblings so that everyone can remember them.
Your child’s funeral is just the beginning of the grieving process, and the experience will need to be repeated over and over. If your child feels comfortable with the funeral, it can help them to process their grief in the months and years that follow.
Make sure that your child knows it is okay to cry and that their feelings are normal. Grieving can be a confusing and scary time, and they might have trouble understanding that it’s not always a bad thing to feel sad or scared.
They might be afraid that they will die or that they might have caused the person to die, so you should reassure them that they will not. This will help them to focus on their loved one and the good times that they had together.
You might consider a private viewing for your child, which gives them a chance to look at their sibling’s body without others in the room. If you’re hesitant to allow them to view their sibling’s body, you can ask a professional counselor or a trusted family member to be there and support your child.