Planning a Child Funeral

As a parent, arranging the funeral of your child is one of the most difficult and heartbreaking things you may ever have to do. This is especially true when you lose your child as a result of miscarriage or stillbirth, as the grief can be overwhelming. The TEARS Foundation has a compassionate policy of waiving many or all funeral expenses for tiny babies up to children aged 18. This includes the funeral service itself, cremation or burial fees and even flowers. For more information visit our FAQs page.

When a child is involved in the planning of a funeral, it can help them to cope with the event and begin the grieving process sooner. They may want to participate in readings or hymns, choose their favourite flowers and have their name printed on the order of service booklet. They may also wish to take part in other family rituals such as placing flowers on the casket, giving out the memorial cards or lighting a candle.

If the funeral is to be public, it is helpful for a point person to be assigned to look after any children who might need to be taken away or distracted during parts of the ceremony. This can be a member of the clergy, a close friend or a trusted family member who will be familiar with your child. This person can also be the contact to respond to any questions from the guests.

Explaining what they will see and hear at the funeral or viewing is important. This can be done in a way that is age appropriate and that is respectful to their decision not to go. For example, if a closed casket is chosen, it might be helpful to discuss the fact that their sibling’s body will be laying in a box but that they cannot feel cold or pain and are not afraid. It is also important to repeat this information and encourage questions at every opportunity.

Whether or not they attend the funeral, it is important for them to understand that there are many different ways to remember and say goodbye and that their choice is not a reflection on their level of understanding or how much they love their sibling. Forcing a child to go through the funeral process can be more distressing than not going and may lead to lasting anxiety or resentment.