Planning a Child Funeral

The loss of a child can be especially difficult for many families. It can be difficult to know what to do or say in the face of such a terrible tragedy. It is important to remember that a child funeral can be done in a way that allows children to participate in the memorial service and process their grief. It can also be a way to honor the deceased and make them a part of your family’s legacy.

Discuss with your child what will happen at the funeral before the service. Explain in an age appropriate way that there will be singing, people might talk about them, there may be a casket or urn and religious rituals. You should also tell them that people might cry at the service and that is ok. You should also ask your child if they want to go or if they would prefer not to. Do not force your child to attend a funeral if they do not want to.

When the day of the funeral arrives, plan activities that will be fun for your child and give them the opportunity to say goodbye. For example, pass a microphone and invite friends and family members to share their favorite memories of the deceased; or have a slideshow of photos or video that they can watch together. You can also set up stations where guests can write messages on a message board or matted picture frame, sign a balloon, paste a photo on a lantern and watch it float away into the sky or bake cupcakes with their loved one’s favorite frosting recipe.

During the ceremony, be prepared to remove your child if they become overwhelmed and cannot cope with the situation. This might be because they are having a hard time processing the event or if they are making too much noise. It is helpful to have a support person designated for this purpose so that they can take the child from the setting and return them when they are ready to continue with the service.

If the funeral is at a cemetery, have fun activities for the child to do while there. For example, if there is an open casket, have your child tell their story to other people who are visiting the body. You can also ask guests to sprinkle glitter or scatter flower petals on the grave. Some parents also choose to have their children escorted to the grave by fire trucks or police cars, which they find comforting.

In addition, prepare your child in advance for what they might see at the graveside. They might have to walk a long distance, and it is possible they might be surrounded by other grieving adults. You should also help them understand what happens after death and what your beliefs are about this. You should also talk about any rumors they might have heard so that they are better equipped to handle them.