If you’re arranging a funeral for a child, it’s a good idea to get support from family members, friends and bereavement charities who can help you through this difficult time. You’ll find a list of child bereavement charities at the bottom of this article.
You might also want to ask a funeral director for help. They’ll deal with the paperwork and help you arrange the funeral. This means you can focus on celebrating your child’s life the best way you can.
Depending on the type of funeral you want, you may be able to customise the service to fit your child’s personality. This article should help you come up with some ideas.
Ideas for a child’s funeral
Remember that funerals don’t have to be sombre and serious. You might feel that it’s better to focus on happy memories instead.
For example, you could cover the coffin with pastel-coloured cloth and decorate the venue with toys and balloons. And instead of wearing dark clothing, you could ask people to wear your child’s favourite colour or something that celebrates a cartoon or activity they liked.
Or how about playing videos as people enter or exit the venue? These could be home movies or photo montages. You could also play some of your child’s favourite songs during the ceremony.
These are just ideas. Unless you want a very traditional funeral, you’re free to choose almost any elements you like. Ask your funeral director if you’re not sure what’s allowed.
What to say at the funeral
Most funerals in the UK include a eulogy. This is a formal spoken tribute to the person who has died.
If you don’t feel up to writing a eulogy, you could share a few quick thoughts or memories instead. For instance, you could talk about things that made your child laugh, their favourite hobbies or something they said that you’ll always remember. It doesn’t have to be a carefully written speech – you can just speak from the heart.
If you prefer, you could write a eulogy and ask a close family member or friend to read it on your behalf. Or you could prepare a reading from your child’s favourite storybook.
Ways of remembering
Many people choose to remember their child with a special keepsake, which can they cherish long after the funeral is over.
If you’ve lost a baby, you could have small plaster casts made of their hands or feet. Or you could ask a specialist photographer to take photos of them. There’s a charity called Remember My Baby that offers this service for free in the UK.
Would you like to give something back to your community? You could plant a tree, donate a bench to a local park or sponsor equipment at a nursery or playground. You could also ask family and friends to donate to a children’s charity, or you could raise money through a website like JustGiving or GoFundMe.
If you’re planning a burial, many cemeteries and burial grounds have sections dedicated to babies and children. The charity Sands also has memorial gardens at locations across the UK. These are spaces specifically dedicated to remembering babies who have died before, during or after birth. Some gardens allow you to place your own memorial plaque. Contact your local branch of Sands to find out more.
Get help paying for the funeral
If you live in the UK, you can access a special fund to help pay some or all of the funeral costs. These funds have different rules and work in different ways, so be sure to check the details.
- England: Children’s Funeral Fund for England
- Scotland: Funeral Support Payment
- Wales: Child Funeral Contribution
- Northern Ireland: The Child Funeral Fund
Many funeral directors charge a reduced rate or nothing at all for a child’s funeral. You might want to talk to several funeral directors to find one that suits you financially and personally. Our search tool can help you find funeral directors in your area.
If you’re on benefits and you live in England or Wales, you may also be eligible for a Funeral Expenses Payment. This can help cover some costs that aren’t covered by the special funds.
Child bereavement charities
Several UK charities offer free support to grieving parents and their families. Here are a few of them:
- Child Bereavement UK supports families that have lost a child and helps children when someone close to them dies.
- Sands supports families when a baby dies before, during or after birth.
- Winston’s Wish specialises in supporting children who have lost a parent or sibling.
For more support, you can see this list of UK bereavement charities.
Funeral Choice helps people find and compare local funeral directors. For more funeral planning support, visit our advice centre.