Planning a Child Funeral

A child funeral is a special way for family and friends to honour the life of a baby or young child who has died. It is typically held in a church, place of worship or another special setting that has significant meaning to the family. Many families choose to have a memorial service afterwards, and some have the option to have their child’s remains cremated or buried.

While the choice is personal and will depend on a family’s beliefs and preferences, it is important to plan ahead in order to make the day as smooth as possible for everyone involved. It is recommended to create a list of things that need to be done and prioritize them. This will help to keep the mind busy and may alleviate stress and anxiety.

It is also helpful to talk with your child(ren) about what will happen and what they can expect. Many children have very real and valid questions when faced with the death of a loved one. Providing honest and straightforward answers will allow your child(ren) to feel prepared for what is to come.

Be sure to explain that while some people may be crying during the service, it is ok to laugh too. If your child is unsure about whether or not they want to attend the funeral it’s a good idea to have a point person for them to go to with any questions and concerns, preferably someone who knows the child well.

For children who wish to view their sibling’s body it is important to allow them a private viewing with a supportive adult present. Children have big imaginations and often imagine their sibling is cold or in pain when they are in the casket, which can be very frightening. Providing clear and honest information, encouraging them to ask questions and repeatedly reassuring them that their sibling can no longer feel cold or hurt will help to ease their fear.

Having a meaningful activity that they can participate in during the visitation or ceremony helps them to feel involved and included. Choosing a special photo to display, writing a poem or reading a prayer are just a few examples. It is also a great idea to provide them with a book, favourite toy or quiet game they can use when needed.

Some parents know in their heart that their child cannot handle a funeral and choose not to have one. This is completely normal and a personal decision that should be made in consultation with your family’s grief counselor or doctor. For those parents who require assistance with funeral costs our Tears Foundation provides compassionate support to families that have lost a child. We do not charge any fees for these services and are funded solely by donations. To learn more please visit our Help with Funeral Costs page. Our goal is to reach as many families as possible in this trying time. We are honoured to be a part of the journey with you.