A child funeral is a memorial service that honors your baby and brings family and friends together. It can take many forms, and can be as elaborate or simple as you wish. Many families choose to have a religious or spiritual element. This can be led by a religious leader, a celebrant, or even a friend or family member. Other families choose to have a secular service, with no religious element. You can also include a reading, songs and music, flowers, a memory table or display, and even a video slideshow. You can even ask family and friends to write messages to your baby or sign a message board or matted picture frame.
If your children are attending, it is important to talk with them before the ceremony and to prepare them for what they will experience. Children of all ages will react differently to this event, and it is important that they are fully prepared to understand the situation.
For younger children, a child funeral may be their first experience with death and mortality. It is a time to explain that everyone is born into this life and that it is finite. They can also discuss their beliefs about what happens after death. For older children, it can be a time to come to terms with their own mortality as well.
It is important to listen to your children, as they will tell you what they need and want. If they express a desire to not attend the funeral, respect that decision. It is better that they do not attend the funeral and regret it later than to go, only to have them wish they had not. If they do decide to attend, it is helpful to bring a support person to help them manage the setting and take them out for breaks. It is also helpful to have snacks, drinks, and comfort objects on hand for them.
A lot of parents like to have a small casket or urn at the funeral and want their other children to be able to view it during the service. It is important to have a discussion with them and help them understand that their sibling is not present in the casket. If a closed casket is the chosen option, it can be explained in detail that their sibling is laying there dressed and with their arms folded and their eyes closed. They can be reassured that their sibling cannot feel cold, pain or fear.
Often, older siblings want to be involved in the process by carrying the coffin into the funeral service or by helping to bury their sibling. They can be a wonderful source of support for their grieving parents and can help them navigate this difficult situation. Siblings may want to write a letter or story to their brother or sister, or they might want to engrave a small plaque on the side of the coffin or urn.