Planning a Child Funeral

A child funeral is an opportunity for families to say goodbye in a way that feels right. It can be a private ceremony where they are alone with the baby or child’s remains or a larger public event. This choice is based on what will feel most respectful for the family and what will help them cope with the grief.

Whatever decision you make it is important to prepare your children in advance about what will happen. Using simple language and reassuring them that their sibling or loved one is going to be placed in a casket or urn it is possible to allay their anxieties. Depending on the situation some families also choose to bury or cremate other special items such as a blanket, teddy bear, a book or letters to their baby or child.

It is also important to give your children the option of leaving if they become too upset. They need to be able to have some freedom to process the events of the day and this will also help them to manage their behaviour. You may want to designate a friend or relative who can take them outside or for a walk if they need a break. This should not be the child’s mother or father, but a person they know well who will be respectful of their feelings.

If you decide to have a funeral service for your baby or child it is helpful to plan ahead to ensure that you have plenty of support from other adults who can watch over the children. This will help them to cope better and may also prevent other grieving relatives being made uncomfortable by your child’s difficult behaviour. It is also a good idea to have some snacks and drinks on hand for the children and a place that they can run around or sit if they get bored or rowdy.

Children need to be able to cry and play and it is important that their needs are met. It is a big event for them to take in and they may need to move in and out of grief as they cope with the different elements of the ceremony. This is normal and just like when they were babies or toddlers they managed to cope with other large events such as their first day of school or starting nursery. As they grow older they will be able to learn how to manage big ceremonies and funerals more effectively. Eventually they will be able to go by themselves and make their own choices about whether to attend or not. As parents it will be important to trust their ability to behave in a respectful manner.