Comprehending the loss and coming to terms with the death of an infant or young person is an incredibly difficult experience for any parent. Here we offer advice on making funeral arrangements for a child.
A child’s funeral is a hugely emotional experience for all involved but, with the support of those around you and an experienced funeral director, it can also be an opportunity to celebrate their short life with an intimate and personalised ceremony.
Celebrating a short life
We tend to think of funerals as serious occasions that are for adults only. However, there are a number of ways to personalise the proceedings. You could cover the coffin with pastel-coloured cloth, decorate the service venue with toys and balloons as opposed to flowers, and play the child’s favourite songs. And instead of wearing traditional dark-coloured funeral attire, you could request people wear the child’s favourite colour or something that symbolises something that was special to them – for example, a much-loved football team, cartoon or activity. You might also want to consider playing photos or a video of the child as people arrive or depart from the ceremony.
What will you say?
At such an emotional time, it might be too hard to write a eulogy, but if you are able to say a few words at the ceremony, it’s a good time to share some happy memories. Talk about the things that made them laugh, the things you learnt about them in the short time that you knew them, and perhaps things they said that you will always remember.
Everyone present will be very aware that dealing with the death of a child is an experience no parent should have to encounter, so try to avoid dwelling on the pain you are feeling and instead focus on the child you have all gathered to remember. If you prefer, you could write the eulogy and ask a close family member or friend to read it on your behalf, or prepare a reading from the child’s favourite story book.
Ways of remembering
Your departed baby or child will always be in your mind and your heart, but there are a number of ways to physically memorialise their short life. Some people have small plaster casts made of their baby’s hands or feet, or commission a specialist photographer to take photos of their infant. Planting a tree or donating a bench to a local park, or even sponsoring equipment at a local nursery or playground, are all generous ways of remembering your child and recognising your loss. You could also request family and friends make a donation to a children’s charity or create a personalised website to collect money on behalf of a good cause.
Extra support is available
Coming to terms with the death of a child can be a slow and painful process, but there are organisations that can help. If you need some extra support, it’s worth contacting Child Bereavement UK or Sands, a charity that helps parents when a baby dies before, during or shortly after birth.
Many funeral directors charge a reduced rate or nothing at all for a baby’s funeral, other than the charges that they have to pay to the cemetery or crematorium. Our online service can help you identify and compare quotes from local funeral directors, who will be able to offer advice and support during this difficult time.