A child funeral is a very difficult and emotional event to go through. It can feel overwhelming and confusing, as you are not able to prepare yourself for the experience. This is why it is important to take your time and think things through, but don’t rush it.
Putting together the service
The first thing that needs to be done is deciding what type of funeral you want for your baby. Some families opt for a traditional service where family and friends can attend, while others prefer a more private ceremony with only immediate family present. There is no right or wrong choice here, just the one that feels right for your family and your baby.
Explaining the funeral
After explaining the idea of death, parents can explain that after a person dies those who were close to them will gather to say goodbye and bury or cremate the body. This is the ritual that will help people to grieve and come to terms with the loss of their loved one.
Explaining the burial/cremation process
You may have to explain to a child that their beloved loved one’s body will no longer work and will not move, eat or breathe anymore. This can be frightening for children and they may be confused about the idea of a fire. It is best to explain this by talking about the body of a loved one in a way that is understandable and that is not scaring the child.
Ask them if they have any questions about the funeral and then try to answer these for them. Make sure you tell them that they can ask their questions whenever they like. This will make them feel included in the service and that you have their full attention and support.
If your child is still quite young, it may be a good idea to have someone with them at the service who can take them out of the room if they start to get upset or restless. This could be a trusted family member or friend, or even someone from the funeral home.
It is also a good idea to have someone with you at the service who can talk about your feelings and give you some support. If you don’t have a family member or friend who can be there for you, it may be helpful to book an appointment with a counsellor.
The order of service booklet
When you are making arrangements for your child’s funeral, it is a good idea to have a booklet created that explains what will happen at the service and gives everyone a chance to contribute to it. These can be simple documents written at home or professionally printed brochures with photographs and information.
Having a booklet for the service can help to keep everyone on track and can create a sense of momentum for those attending. It can also help to make the service more personal, incorporating wishes that your child might have had.