A child funeral can be a very difficult experience for all of the attendees. While it is not ideal, many parents choose to include their infants, toddlers and children in funeral services and memorialization ceremonies. If you plan to do this, be sure to ask friends and family members who are also attending to help support your child in a way that feels comfortable to them. This will help to ease their anxiety and give them a sense of belonging. You may also want to consider asking them to share a special memory or poem.
If your child has a specific wish or request for the service, listen carefully to them and make every effort to accommodate. This can include things like having their favorite color of flowers used, a special blanket or pillow used as casket lining or ceremonial shroud, having a favorite food served at the reception or even having them walk down the aisle themselves. Children often find comfort in having their favorite animal, cartoon character or sports team represented in the funeral ceremony and/or at the burial site.
It is not uncommon for some children to fear that they too will die or that they somehow caused the death of their sibling. If they express this concern, reassure them that it is not their fault and that other people do die. Reassure them that they will be loved forever and that you will always be there for them.
Depending on the age of your child, you may want to discuss with them what will happen at the visitation period and funeral. Explain that they can choose whether or not to attend and that it is OK if they decide not to go.
For older children who are feeling able to attend the funeral, you can consider inviting them to participate in some aspect of the service such as reading a poem, singing a song or delivering a eulogy. This can be a very powerful and healing experience for them.
If you are worried about how your children will manage at a funeral or memorial service, it might be a good idea to bring along a trusted friend who can play with them and keep them occupied during the event. This will allow you to focus on the service and not feel as if your children are being forgotten or ignored.
At the graveside, you can include fun activities for children such as a pi